Love Thy Nerd
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Reflections from Fan Expo Denver 2021

The last 18 months have torn us apart in many ways. At this point, we all know how much the COVID pandemic separated us, forcing us to remain socially distant. On top of that, our nation and our world has been divided over multiple issues. Meanwhile, our souls long for connection. We yearn to be together, especially with those who have similar interests. And as I reunited with my fellow nerds at Fan Expo Denver this year, I found something I had been missing for a while–companionship and camaraderie around a love for nerd culture and fellow humans. We needed this opportunity to mingle, and we needed to hear various nerd celebrities encourage us.

The expo, like other similar events, gave fans of comics, anime, cosplay, gaming, and more a place to connect and hear from actors, authors, and more. Over the weekend, I had the privilege of seeing Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Felicia Day, Jon Lovitz, Giancarlo Esposito, Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, Ray Fisher, Michael Rooker, Zachary Quinto, Rob Paulsen, and Paige O’Hara. And while it was fun to see them in person and hear their many stories, it was also interesting to hear a common mantra from most of them: be present and take care of each other.

Giancarlo Esposito

Esposito specifically stated that when we are present, we see and hear those around us. It allows us to be spontaneous and simply be with others in order to care for them. He shared that when we are present, we can actually feel something else–a connection to other human beings. And I heard very similar statements at many of the other panels I attended.

If you have ever watched the credits at the end of a movie or read through the names in a comic, you realize that these amazing works are not completed in a vacuum all alone. It takes a team. Many of these actors have also performed within an ensemble cast as a part of a superhero team or a space adventure team. So they continually spoke about the importance of lifting each other up and helping each other. I frequently heard them talk about other actors, directors, or writers in a way that pointed out their gifts rather than selfishly talking about their own accolades.

Zachary Quinto

Quinto talked at length about his friendship with the first Spock, Leonard Nimoy. He spoke about how nervous he was to first interact with him but also how Nimoy became a great friend and mentor for him both inside and outside of Star Trek. He also mentioned that Nimoy’s wife has continued to be there for him, and he is very grateful for both of them.

Several of the celebrities also talked about the significance of standing up for what you believe, especially when it comes to looking out for others. In our broken world, this is even more important than ever. One after another, I heard actors and authors encourage us to speak up for others who are often overlooked and discounted by society. Fisher, in particular, made this point incredibly clear in his panel, drawing attention to how he voiced his opinions on the Justice League reshoots. He pointed out the gaslighting and other ways actors were mistreated on set and made it clear that should not happen. 

Ray Fisher

Even though several of the panelists do not claim to follow Jesus, I could not help but hear His words echo throughout the convention center when they spoke. In John 15:12-13, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In fact, those words are what we are all about here at Love Thy Nerd

It went beyond the celebrities, though. Whether I was standing in line for a panel, walking around the booths, discussing a movie with another expo attendee, waiting in line for lunch, or talking to a vendor as I bought yet another item for my game room, I realized the joy in unity. We were there to celebrate nerdom, and that brought us together. After a lengthy departure from expos and conventions, nerds of all ages and fandoms have begun uniting again. And we need it. Events like Fan Expo and LTN’s own convention help us realize how much we need each other. They show us that we have far more in common than things that divide us. And they give us an opportunity to hear from others we respect as they encourage us to love one another.

Steve is a Youth Pastor in Colorado. In addition to writing for LoveThyNerd, he is also the senior editor and podcast host for NintendoFuse.com. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @stevecullum

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