I just spent the past three hours reading through the entirety of this masterpost. I’ve done my best to form my own objective opinion on the matter–although when it comes to matters of emotional abuse and sexual assault, it’s rather difficult to remain objective.
However, my intention here is not to preach about my opinion. The masterpost has a link to a particularly insightful post by Hank Green, which addresses the important matter of one interpreting the evidence for one’s self, and I wholeheartedly believe that to be the case, so I am not going to champion any one perspective (although I’m sure it will be clear in this post how I feel).
I simply feel the need to discuss how difficult this is for me to wrap my mind around. I had no relationship with any of those accused. I was a fan, I idolized them, and I met both Alex Carpenter and Luke Conard when they did shows in Chicago. But these interactions were brief. I certainly never had any reason to imagine that they were bad people. But my middle school and early high school years are, in my mind, very much defined by my attachment to these and other men; some of whom, it has now come out, did some very bad things.
And for that reason, I am profoundly disappointed. I became a fan of Luke merely as an extension of his connection to Ministry of Magic, which was one of my absolute favorite wizard rock bands. I found them fairly early–I’d say I began to listen to them in 2007, around the time or shortly after I entered 7th grade. As soon as Luke started to become a YouTube personality, my admiration for the band extended to him. I thought he was cute and charming and, when he was dating Kristina, I thought they seemed so sweet together (I had also thought the same of Kristina and Alex Day). I fell for his facade entirely and, although my attachment to him was eventually replaced by others, Luke in particular held a soft spot in my heart and even in recent months, I have sometimes gone back and listened to All Caps and Ministry of Magic, and watched his older videos.
Unlike most of my Harry Potter fandom friends, I was never particularly infatuated with Alex Carpenter. Something about him rubbed me the wrong way. Don’t interpret that as me pretending that I somehow knew about these evident manipulative tendencies. Of course I didn’t. All I knew was that this guy was considered eye candy, and I never really got it. (I never thought his voice was that great, either.) The matter actually led to an argument between me and my best friend at the time.
During the period in question, the Harry Potter fandom was my life. All I ever listened to was wrock and MuggleCast, and nearly all of my friends were from an online MuggleCast fan forum. Without going into too much detail, I wasn’t particularly happy in middle school, although I didn’t realize it at the time. But this first foray into fandom was probably the main thing that kept me from feeling alone, and a lot of that is due to the people who I thought were admirable role models.
This information that has come to light is so very distressing to me because I feel that it has tainted some of the only fond memories that I have of that time in my life. I am immensely disappointed to learn that these men, whom I looked up to, have been consistently manipulative and hurtful. And I also feel wronged–nowhere near to the same extent, but Luke Conard and Alex Day fooled their viewership, of which I was a part. I ate up their respective romances with Kristina and I feel so naive because of it. It leaves me with a lingering feeling of mistrust towards… everyone. Because I invested my complete faith in these people and they betrayed it. Thankfully, not when it would have had its greatest impact; if this news had broken in 2009, when I was a freshman in high school, I would have been absolutely devastated. But learning of all of this, even now, hurts me and makes me second-guess essentially everyone.
And for that reason, I want to thank Maureen Johnson for what she says here. Specifically, “I love your enthusiasm and I love your fandoms and I love how you embrace all of these new, great things—these songs and stories and people. There is no reason to give up. None at all. NOT EVERYONE IS BAD.” I forget that sometimes, particularly after incidents like this.
When similar stories came out about Mike Lombardo in 2012, I was appalled, but it bore no effect on me, as I had never really been a fan. These men now… Some of them meant quite a lot to me, once upon a time, and I don’t think I will ever be able to look back on that time in my life the same way. And I am so deeply saddened by that.