At one house that we stopped at, the woman who lived there started telling us about an event coming up with various musical artists to support working rights in the state. Normally, these local events bring artists only well-known within the community, the state or maybe the region. No one really famous. The guy I was canvassing with mentioned about how he would like to see Pete Seeger come to town. (Pete Seeger is pretty famous when it comes to the worker rights movement, by the way.) The voter we were talking to said that she would prefer Bruce Springsteen. I found myself tuning out a bit. I can’t say that I’m a Bruce fan despite him having political ideas that I generally agree with. Musically, he doesn’t do much for me. Did I think her idea of having him come to town was out of the range of possibility? I don’t know. I can’t see him coming for a small event held at one of the local theaters but I saw him when he was playing at Kerry/Edwards rallies during the 2004 political campaign season. Anyway, that really isn’t the point of sharing this story. Let me continue. My canvass partner agreed that he would be great to get. Then, the next thing I knew the two of them started comparing how many times they had seen him in concert, including when and where. When she said that she had seen him in New York City, clearly, she wanted the fan prize of being bigger and better than the other guy. This competition of sorts continued as he said that he saw some special acoustic show. She responded with how her son works at a venue in Milwaukee and that she tried to get a note to Bruce through her son. The note was going to be about how much she absolutely loved him and that she would still be willing to marry him. I was not contributing to the conversation at all. Instead, I stood silently, blinking furiously. Should I laugh or cry? Is this what I seem like when I am talking about Duran?
Obviously, there was so much to that conversation that I could relate to. I, too, have found myself talking about how many concerts I have been to, which usually does include when and where. Goodness knows that I want to tell everyone and anyone who will listen about how excited I am to be seeing them in their hometown, in their home country!! I might have said once or twice in my lifetime, too, about how much I love John Taylor. I might have even said that I would be willing to marry him. I’m also sure that I would use a connection like she had with her son. I can’t say that I would tell John how much I loved him in a note like that as I would probably be more likely to give him setlist recommendations. (Have I mentioned how much Rhonda and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear Late Bar?!) Despite all that I could relate to, I still found myself having mixed feelings. I was slightly embarrassed for this woman. I’m not sure why. Obviously, I think going to shows is great. I think it is wonderful to travel to see shows as I do it all the time. Was it that she was expressing her inner fangirl to us, people who were random strangers? Was it because she didn’t seem embarrassed about it that caught my attention as it isn’t typical for adults to talk about being an intense fan of something?
After we left that woman’s house, my canvass partner continued to talk about how great Bruce is live. Okay. I had the chance to jump in and tell him either about seeing Bruce at the Kerry rally in 2004 or tell him that I could relate because I feel the exact same way about Duran. I didn’t, though. I still don’t know why really. I have been in many situations where I have blabbed about my love for Duran. In many of these situations, the people are new people to me. I wonder if it had to do with the fact that when I am going on and on about that British band we love, it is usually with a crowd of women. I have shared things about Duran with men that I know before, though, so that can’t be it. I admit that I don’t know my canvass partner well. I had only met him a couple of weeks earlier but he has volunteered a lot for my team and I suspect that he will stay involved. Is it because these two worlds of politics and fandom are usually so separated that I didn’t know how to respond? I wondered if it could be the stigma of fandom that I was worried about? Let’s be honest here. Most people think that fans are crazy. Maybe they don’t think we are mental hospital type of crazy but they might think that there are so many more important things that we should be doing with our time. Perhaps, they think that we haven’t grown up quite yet. I think being a Duranie usually gives that stigma and more since Duran isn’t so respected, especially here in the States. Was I too busy worrying about being respected by this new canvasser that I didn’t want to risk having myself labeled with the fandom stigma? After all, I want this guy to join my team and when I mean my team, it literally is my team. I’m the leader. I am the one who communicates with the actual campaigns and provides direction, organization and more to the team. I do think that my members need to see me as a leader and that might not happen if all they can see is that I’m a Duranie. I don’t know. I don’t have any answers.
I doubt that I’m the only one out there who has held back the fact about being a Duranie, about being a fan. While I don’t know for sure why I held back, I do know that I believe the stigma of being a fan, of being a Duranie is real. I’m not sure what to do about it exactly, but I know that acknowledging it is the first step in ending it. Then, I believe that I need to be prepared to actually say it no matter the people around, myself obviously included. It shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about. Frankly, it should be something to be proud of. After all, I believe that the band is good, really good. I should be proud to be their fan. I should be proud to write this blog and to write the book. Maybe if all of us came out of the fandom closet, the stigma would lessen.