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Kindness Is Contagious

At ClexaCon, we partnered up with others in the Wynonna Earp fandom to present a panel about the fandom, how it came about, and why we think it’s special. You can get the audio podcast of the panel plus several Periscope recordings from our ClexaCon 2017 roundup blog post.

One of the things we discussed during the panel was the “contagious nature of kindness,” and afterward, we decided to do a special shirt for the Earpers to commemorate it. A portion of the proceeds from Kindness Is Contagious will go directly to The Kind Campaign, working to combat girl-against-girl bullying.

We did a followup interview with the panelists. Let’s get to it!

Panelists/Interviewees are in alphabetical order, with their twitter handles and their websites. Give ’em a follow!

FGS: How did you start watching Wynonna Earp?

Bonnie: I started watching Wynonna Earp because I was a Fandras! I followed Emily Andras and got interested in this new show she was making, so I was always on board since day one! I just knew it was going to be good because I loved her work and her sense of humor and how she created badass female characters.

Bridget: Since I cover Canadian TV I had heard about the project pretty early on. I knew Emily Andras was attached to lead it and that she had written some of my very favorite episodes on shows such as Lost Girl and Killjoys. I also knew she knew how to write complex, interesting, funny, smart but flawed women and that Wynonna sounded very much in that same vein. The fact that Emily had other writers like Alexandra Zarowny and Brendon Yorke on staff for Wynonna, giving the show a strong writing room, got me super excited as well because I’m a TV nerd like that. As soon as I got screeners and checked out the first two episodes I knew my instincts were right and I was going to be all in on this one.

Kevin: I’ve been a fan of Emily’s since her Lost Girl days so I was keeping an eye on the development of the show and thanks to our access to press screeners of most Syfy shows I was able to watch the first two episodes about 10 days before the show premiered.

Rebecca:  Emily wrote all of my favourite episodes of Lost Girl, so I knew that any project she was involved with was going to be something that I’d want to watch. She teased on twitter that her new super secret “mystery project” was going to have queer representation in it, and from that moment I knew I was all in.

Sally: I was a huge Lost Girl fan and kept checking Twitter every day to find out what Emily Andras would do next, because I knew that whatever it was, I wanted to watch it.

Valerie Anne: I saw the promos on Syfy and saw that it was quippy with a badass female lead and punched the air. Then a few people asked me if I’d be watching since Emily Andras had promised it was going to “get gay” and even though I was already in, I was suddenly ALL IN knowing Andras was behind the wheel. I have no regrets.

FGS: How and why did you become involved in the fandom?

Bonnie: I started the Wynonna Fans twitter account as a fun place to gather a few fans together to discuss the show and because I was getting excited about it! I hadn’t even seen the show yet, but I just knew it was going to be good. Immediately fans began flocking to the twitter account and the cast followed me, so I just decided to run with it and actively promote the show in hopes of generating enough buzz to help get a Season 2.

Bridget: I never intended to get pulled into the fandom this deep and yet, here I am. I really started to get pulled into fandom events through working with Bonnie and Kevin. They had me on their podcast early on in the show’s run and then publicized a lot of my articles, especially the weekly postmortem interviews with Emily. We three started working on ideas for the fandom, organizing events, twitter campaigns and running ideas past each other a lot. I just got deeper and deeper into the fandom over time, especially after I met so many Earpers at events and realized what wonderful people we have in the Wynonna Earp fandom.

Kevin: I LOVED the first two episodes and knew this was going to be a show that I and other people would want to talk about so I decided to start the Tales of the Black Badge podcast and it all snowballed from there.

Rebecca:  So many of my friends from the Lost Girl fandom jumped on board right away with Wynonna Earp, so it was like a big fandom family right from the start. Sally and I knew from the beginning that Fangirl Shirts would be making Wynonna-inspired designs, and involved in spreading the word about this awesome show. But I had no idea what an incredible, wild and exciting ride it was going to be!

Sally: Fangirl Shirts was pretty certain (99.9999999999999%) that we would like Wynonna Earp, so we followed the cast and the fan accounts, and as soon as we had ideas, we made T-shirts! In 2016 we were invited to attend San Diego Comic-Con as panelists for the “Fangirls Lead The Way” panel that our friend Ed Catto organized, and we got to meet tons of Earpers in person. The Whiskey & Doughnuts video hangouts after the shows aired during Season 1 were also a fun way we met other Earpers virtually.

Valerie Anne: The night of the premiere! I was watching and livetweeting and everyone watching “with” me was so hilarious and fun – we were already latching onto certain lines (stupid Carl!) and bonding over our love of these characters we just met. Then I started recapping Wynonna Earp and through that found more and more Earpers. Earpers, by nature, have no chill, as you all know, and the tweets, art, fics, jokes, theories, and entire twitter accounts based on body parts and inanimate objects Earpers create on a daily basis never cease to amaze me.

FGS: The fandom has a reputation for being a welcoming, supportive place. How did it get that way? What keeps it going?

Bonnie: From the beginning, I would comb Twitter and look for fans interested in the show and who were tweeting about the show in a positive manner. I found that there were so many fans who were disillusioned with fandoms and with other shows and who were looking for a community and a safe place to land. I wanted to help create an atmosphere on Twitter where everyone could feel safe to just fangirl and fanboy out and connect with others. It helped so much that Emily and the writers created a show that didn’t pit fans against each other from the start. I think we were all just destined to be here as fans of this wonderful show.

Bridget: I think it starts at the top with Emily Andras and the Wynonna Earp cast. The show itself is positive and inclusive and Emily and the cast interact that way on social media as well. In some ways we were very lucky that the show was so small the first couple of weeks because it really helped solidify the core group of Earpers that were there at the start. Those Earpers took the cast/crew’s lead of being a welcoming and positive place and that knowledge and those values just continue to be spread throughout the fandom.

Kevin: I think those of us who were involved early got to see that Emily and the cast members were VERY interactive and approachable on Twitter so it created a very special feeling that we were all part of something special so we appreciated it and therefore felt we were a part of that and we wanted to see an environment that we were proud to be a part of so therefore we were very conscious of the people themselves. We identified with them as much as the show so we were genuinely concerned with doing what was best for all.

Rebecca:  Positive energy feeds off of positive energy, and this fandom has tons of it going around. There was so much excitement and hope within the early stages of the fandom, and I think that it had a contagious effect. That, and the fact that the creators, writers, and cast are all very present and positive on social media, has helped created this amazing atmosphere of support and inclusion. Everyone knows what it’s like to not fit in somewhere, and it’s been wonderful to see this fandom promote the message that everyone who loves the show belongs here. 

Sally: I think the people who were early adopters of the show led by example, being welcoming and nice and uplifting new people who started to engage with the community that had formed. These things tend to snowball, and the values that get promoted and encouraged from the beginning often stick. As well, there were relatively few plot situations in Wynonna Earp Season 1 that pitted fans on opposite sides of an issue or relationship. We were all rooting for every character. (Well, maybe not Stupid Carl.)

Valerie Anne: I think it’s a combination of things; it’s the show being the kind of show that appeals to smart, funny people who appreciate a well-told story with complex characters. It’s people who love seeing a reluctant hero kick ass, her little sister fall in love with the new girl in town, a legendary gunslinger come to life. The show has so much heart, and the people who love it the most do, too. I think part of the reason it has managed to stay so positive is that the leaders of it are so positive and kind and welcoming. From Emily Andras and the official Wynonna Earp twitter account, to Bonnie and Kevin, no one has tried to pit “ships” or “faves” against each other, everything is celebrated, everyone is seen and heard.

FGS: Tell us a specific story about kindness in this fandom that has especially stuck with you.

Bonnie: There was a fan who was really nervous about watching the show with her parents and how they would react to WayHaught. She sought help and advice from the fandom and I watched as dozens and dozens of Earpers came to her aide and messaged her with words of encouragement and help. It was so heartwarming to see how many people cared – even though they’d never met her at all. It was then that I knew we had an incredible special fandom here.

Bridget: There are so many stories that it’s hard to pick just one, and that’s just going on my own personal experiences alone with other fans. However, I will say that one in particular I witnessed at ClexaCon, a convention attended by many, many Earpers, stands out to me. There was an Earper who attended that was disabled and had worries about attending a convention and how she was going to get around to see panels, get autographs and attend photo ops. I witnessed not only one, but several Earpers, helping her throughout the con to make sure she could do everything she wanted to do. They didn’t need to do that. No one was requiring it of them. They just did it out of the goodness of their hearts to make sure a fellow Earper go to experience the con to the fullest just as they were. It was awesome.

Kevin: Because of the popularity of the podcast and the podcast Twitter account folks share SO many great stories that it’s impossible to pick only one. One thing that many Earpers are doing is to offer things such as comic books, posters, etc. that they may haven’t gotten signed themselves to other folks who haven’t been able to attend one of the conventions where the cast has been a guest. They want to see others who may not have the financial means to attend be able to experience the fun that they did.

Rebecca:  It’s so hard to pick just one story, but I think one of my very favourite things to see in this fandom is the outpouring of love, acceptance and support that you’ll see on social media any time anyone mentions they’re having a bad day or going through a rough time. Whether it’s losing a job, health problems, relationship issues, losing a loved one, coming out of the closet, or anything else someone might be struggling with, the Earpers are always there to help you through it. 

Sally: When Fangirl Shirts ran conducted a raffle to award two Peace Maker shirts signed by the Earp cast (the “raffle tickets” were actually donations to Everytown for Gun Safety), we had so many people who donated to the raffle but told us privately that they didn’t want to win the shirts, and if they did win, could we choose another Earper who hadn’t had a chance to go to conventions or meet the cast. They simply wanted to support the cause and the effort, and give someone else a chance. So generous! You know who you are – thank you!

Valerie Anne: Gosh there are too many to count. Aside from the extreme kindness and support Emily Andras has shown me, one of the first times I TRULY felt how special and wonderful this fandom is was during NYCC 2016. One night, we had a little Earper meetup, and everyone who showed up was unbelievably kind and smart and fun. And then I called into the Whiskey and Doughnuts chat to give everyone an update from the bar and everyone THERE was so kind and smart and fun. And though that’s one of my favorite nights, I’ll also never forget our panel at ClexaCon, where they had to move us to a new room because so many people showed up, and how everyone in the audience was so thoughtful and supportive, and everyone on the panel made me so proud and honored to be moderating such wonderful humans.

FGS: What if strife develops in the fandom – as visible people who contribute to the fandom, how will you handle it?

Bonnie: I have always tried to lead by example and will continue to do so. Strife is not always bad and can be a good learning experience for everyone involved if handled correctly. I think though that there are enough fans in the fandom who have experienced the benefit of being a part of such a loving and inclusive and positive fandom that everyone will work together like a family to keep it that way.

Bridget: I think one of the biggest ways is to lead by example and continue to treat others the way I want to be treated – with kindness and respect. There are bound to be disagreements in Season 2, whether it’s over a particular storyline or a direction one of our beloved characters are being taken in, but I’m also sure that there’s going to be plenty that we’re all going to love about the show. That’s what we can focus on. Also disagreements aren’t bad, and can even be constructive, but we just need to make sure that they are happening in a way that isn’t hurtful or disrespectful.

Kevin: As the show’s popularity grows there are going to be more fandom members who may not share the same morals or values that the early adopters do. That’s a natural thing and all we can do is to treat people the way we would want to be treat and accept how other people choose to react to that. We can’t control other people. We can only control our reactions to them. Be respectful and accept differing opinions. Always try to do what’s best for the show. It’s about us and not about me.

Rebecca:  After only one season so far, the solidarity of the Earper fandom hasn’t really been tested yet in terms of storylines or character development that could potentially cause tension or division. I believe that the positive, constructive voices need to be supported and echoed, and the more people we have within the fandom that are doing just that, the better we’ll be able to handle any negativity that might try and creep in.

Sally: If the strife is about storyline, then it’s important to model respectful dialogue that acknowledges other people’s points of view even if you don’t share it. Social media doesn’t always lend itself well to that type of discussion – but it can, sometimes. If the strife is about shirts, of course, then we’ll handle it. 😉

Valerie Anne: Gosh I wish I could promise I’d wave a magic wand and ban all strife from the Wynonna Earp fandom, but unfortunately as the fanbase grows (which is a good thing!) and the seasons go on (also good!), we’re bound to run into a hiccup or two. My goal in situations like that is to lift up the positive voices. Let them drown out the negative – I know we’ll outnumber them. Address any major issues the best we can, but mostly just keep reminding each other what makes our fandom special, and focusing on the things about the show (and each other!) we love the most.

FGS: What super special fun stuff will you be doing in the fandom as Season 2 premieres?

Bonnie: More of everything!!! More giveaways, more games, more live tweeting, more Whiskey & Doughnuts hangouts, MORE MORE MORE!

Bridget: In Season 2 I’ll be continuing my weekly episode interviews with Emily Andras. In addition to that I’ll continue to have interviews with the cast, writers and other people involved with the show for readers at The TV Junkies. Since I can never seem to write about Wynonna Earp enough I’m sure I’ll have some other opinion pieces or fun pieces sprinkled in there along the way as well.

Kevin: Aside from appreciating the wonderful community and TV show that we’ve been blessed with I think I’m going to just enjoy the ride and look forward to welcoming new members of the fandom family and get to know some of the existing members a bit more. Life is too short not to live in the moment and appreciate how good we have it.

Rebecca:  We’re looking forward to many new shirt designs as season 2 progresses! We’re always looking for fun ways to promote the show to new viewers, and fan gear is a great way to be able to do that. We also love creating designs that are a subtle shout out to the fandom, filled with in-jokes and stuff you need to be an Earper to appreciate fully. There are also a few cons that Fangirl Shirts has its eye on, coming up. Getting to travel, attend conventions and meet other fans is so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again.

Sally: We are constantly brainstorming what cool shirt designs we could come up with, and talking with designers in the fandom about collaborations. We’ll probably do more fun giveaways and fundraisers as the year goes on. And puns! Lots of puns. Puns are fun. Right? Right? Hey, is this thing on?

Valerie Anne: I’ll be recapping Wynonna Earp this season over at Autostraddle.com, and even though I wrote a piece when Season 1 went up on Netflix, I surely won’t be able to wait until June to write something else about this fabulous show. And of course, tweeting until my fingers fall off like I’m some kind of revenant.

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