About a decade ago, I wrote an essay that I jokingly titled “What I did over my summer vacation AKA How I became a donor”. Things have changed drastically in the community since I wrote that, let alone since I first found the community roughly 20 years ago. Heck, I’m on the third computer since that essay and my 5th hard drive. I might have the essay somewhere on a hard drive that isn’t dead. There’s likely a version floating around the internet somewhere, but it’s really out of date, so, this is a take on that, but more updated to fit today’s community and how we interact now.
I’ve sat on a precarious perch, one foot in the vampiric community, one foot out. I am not a vampire, though I have family, friends, and loved ones who are. I am not a “normal human”, “mundane”, “vanilla”, “nil”, or whatever colorful term people use these days to describe those who are not other. I’m otherkin (fae class, to be precise) so I can empathize, to a point, what vampires go through, feeling different in society. The road that I took for me to accept that part of me was rocky, to say the least. I can’t even imagine how much harder it is/was for vampiric people. So, as the kids these days say, story time.
I became actively aware that the vampire community was a thing when I was a young teen (around the age of 14, when I was able to access the internet without parental supervision), and it kept figuratively hitting me upside the head until I became an active member. I can honestly say, save for family, at first, I thought it was (pardon my language) a crock of shit. It was the late 90’s, Vampire: The Masquerade was not only a popular role-playing game but a show on television. All the kids in my circle of friends were into role-playing games, and V:tM was the newest cool thing. My character was a Toreador (almost always, if I have the choice, I’ll lean bard with the occasional dabble in Ranger/Cleric classes). I wanted to flesh out my character a bit, but since my father wouldn’t buy me the player manual I got on the internet, back BG, “Before Google”, and innocently searched for vampires. One of the first pages to come up was Sanguinarius’s site: http://www.sanguinarius.org. Honestly? At first, I thought it was, pardon my language, a crock of shit. “Someone’s going way too far down the rabbit hole” kind of thoughts. I refined my search, got the information I needed to fill out my character sheet and bio, and went on my merry way. Then I needed to look up some information about paganism. For some odd reason, up again came Sangi’s site. An online pagan radio station (we would call it a podcast these days since it was prerecorded, and you downloaded the mp3 to listen on your computer at your leisure) mentioned her site in the show. A website I wrote silly stories on had an article about vampirism that sourced her site. It was like the universe was trying to hit me upside the head with “Oi! Vampires! They’re important to you!”
My brother came out to me as being a psychic vampire during that time period. I eventually figured out that I was otherkin. The pieces all started to fall into place. I became a donor for my brother and a friend, another psychic vampire. We experimented with energy work. The fun thing we used to do to practice was energy ball hacky sack. (Like I said, it was the late 90’s. Hacky sacks were popular.) We did what we could to survive high school, and moved on to adulthood as we gradually graduated, myself being the youngest of the bunch. After graduation, my brother and I founded a House for our friends to find shelter and share ideas, help each other, what have you. It’s what a House does. By this point, my brother had joined the military, and through an internet chatroom, we found others like us scattered across the world (mostly also in the military, but some of us weren’t). This led me back to scrolling through the internet, looking for resources for our House and educating myself further, bringing me back full circle to Sangi and her website. A few years later, forums were super popular, so I joined hers.
If you haven’t looked at her forum through the years, hers was divided up into groups, like all were. There was the introduction area, the news area the silly area, then she and her moderators divided up the different members by what they were in the community. Sang, psy, donors, we all had segments. One public (everyone from the different groups could see the posts there), and one private (members of that classification and moderators only could see). I eventually graduated up to being a moderator there, myself. Thanks to those privileges, I could see a little deeper into the minds of vampires, since I could see into the private areas. This both fascinated and horrified me. I wasn’t a vampire. Part of me wished that they (the vampires) could feel comfortable to post these thoughts in the public area, but the other part of me was like “I’m not one of them, I shouldn’t be seeing this. The other mods aren’t like me, so should they be seeing our private area?” This spurred me to create my own website and forum (now defunct, though I still own the URL), and Sangi, who by then was my dear friend, christened it her sister site and forum, the donor version of her vampire site.
This had it’s own ups and downs. Some people in the community loved the idea. A safe place for donors to discuss things about being a donor, without the prying eyes of non-donors, it was new. And, yes, we had a segment for the vampires, and they had their private subforums. But the thing that stuck in people’s proverbial craws was that there were no vampire moderators or administrators. All four of us original founders and therefore mods and admins were donors. Not vampiric in any way (other than my energy signature can confuse people at times). They had this idea that my website, my forum (my name is the one on the bills), was a vampire site and therefore a vampire should be in charge. The fact that we refused more than annoyed people. Thankfully, we had people who cheered us on.
Eventually, through my work at Sangi’s and my own forums, plus some other locations, I was nominated and accepted as a member of the Voices of the Vampiric Community aka VVC. Since then, I’ve spoken at the New Orleans Vampire Association (NOVA)’s Cirque Du Nuit and at the House Kheperu Gather about being a donor and our side of the vampiric equation. I’ve had the list of vampires that I donate to change, some of whom are no longer a part of my life, though I wish them well. I’ve had a fairly lucky life when it comes to being a member of this great community. It’s had its fair share of ups and downs. I’ve had death threats, I’ve had stalkers, I’ve had my inbox inundated with “Can you find me the Edward to my Bella?” and “How do you become a vampire?”. I’ve also had “You helped me realize who I am, thank you,” and “Thank you for the inspiration, I want to change our community for the better like you did”. You have to take the bad with the good, but, as the Doctor said, “The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
People will always find things to harp on, poke at, until someone turns into a grumpy bear and roars. Not everyone operates in the community in the same way, and that’s okay. As long as no one is coming to harm in any way through what is done, my thoughts are “Whatever floats your boat.” I’m not saying I’m perfect, that I don’t have a temper, or that I don’t have opinions that cross others opinions, but I try my best, and that’s honestly all that we can expect from one another. A common thing said is that trying to get the vampiric community to agree on anything is like herding cats. For example, we, as a community, have never fully glommed onto the idea of using the term vampire. There are segments of the community who would say that those like me, non-vampiric people, shouldn’t have access to any part of it. Obviously, I don’t agree with that, but I’ll just tell people why. We all, vampires, otherkin, donors, “none of the above” but are pulled into the community through ties to any of the former… We are a community, for better or for worse. In the past 20 odd years that I’ve known that this was a thing, I’ve seen it grow, change, evolve… From ads and articles in goth ‘zines, to flashy blinky sites with a scrolling marquee, to forums, to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I remember the “kindervamps” (what Sangi used to call the under 21 crowd in the community) being all obsessed with the Twilight franchise, Vampire Freaks, and having “raccoon tails” dyed into their emo styled hair. I remember fights with my brother over the color scheme for our first House website because he might have better fashion sense when it comes to clothes, his color sense when it comes to web design is horrific. AIM chats with friends in the community over the latest news/gossip have now evolved into DM’s on Twitter or Facebook messenger.
The one thing about us as a community is that we are adaptable. We tend to go with the flow, no matter what new thing is thrown at us. Some groups are reverting back to how it was before the internet and social media became what they are, and going back to being a purely offline thing, with meetings and social gatherings. Some groups still use the feudal system of governance: Kings, Queens, Regents, etc., and that works for them. Other groups are more of a democracy, with elected officers that change on a set basis, and that works for them. Some have never associated with an organized group and never will. Cool.
That’s not to say that we are perfect. We are a highly defensive group of people. If someone says something that goes against our personal worldview, quite often our first response is lash out and think that whatever was said is a personal attack against us. It’s always been like that, unfortunately, and we’ve never, as a whole, learned how to get past this flaw. In the preface to this article, I said that its inspiration was written about a decade ago, so I posit this challenge for our community for the next decade: ease down your defenses and don’t be so quick to lash out at opinions that differ from yours. Again, I don’t think we’re perfect. We’ll have upsets and squabbles. But we, as a people, can focus on improving ourselves. I look forward to the next decade with my friends and family in this big crazy community.