3 Things I Learned at Gallifrey One

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to be back at work the Monday after Gallifrey One. Sunday I was in a crowded hotel halfway across the country surrounded by Doctor Who fans like myself. We’re talking t-shirts, ribbons, and cosplay, celebrity guests in the halls and at the breakfast table a few seats away, and all of us united—celebrating our love for Doctor Who and the deep roots and connections this program has to our lives. 

But today I’m at my desk eating a sandwich and looking at some of the photo ops I propped on the shelf a few feet away and the Rock Candy 13th Doctor on my filing cabinet that somehow got knocked over while I was away. A little of the elation is still here, but also a kind of mourning. Maybe this is because for me, a lot of my fan love, at least the public side of it, goes dormant the rest of the year. Without my tribe, I tend to keep it to myself, quietly watching Jodie Whittaker’s new Who episodes with my family, or sneaking in some classic Who here and there on Britbox when I have the time and no one else has claimed the TV.

With all of this floating around in my mind, I want to tell you a few things I learned this year in the wake of Gallifrey One 2019. I’ve got to put it down before it tries to hide again.

1. Ribbon quest is the perfect ice-breaker.

I have always been grateful when someone has offered me a ribbon at Gally, but I’ve never brought my own. Every year, I said to myself, next year! And then life happened and I never remembered in time to sort something out before February rolled around again. This time I remembered with about a month to spare. I cobbled something together on my laptop. Ribbons Galore, the vendor I chose, was fantastic. The ribbons showed up with a couple weeks to spare and they looked awesome. So this was the first year I got to participate in the whole ritual of trading and collecting ribbons. What I observed, which I’m sure all of you have known all along, is that ribbons are the perfect ice-breaker. Even though I never found the opportunity to make it to a ribbon meet-up, time and again, I met people in lines and in chairs waiting for panels because we had this magical creative conversation-starter. And you all are so damn creative. So many of the ribbons I saw were spot on and made me laugh out loud, or tipped me off to some new something—a podcast I didn’t know about, or an obscure reference that I wanted to follow up on. Plus I remember when I was the newbie and people gave me friendly welcome ribbons just to get me started. This year, I did the same whenever I met someone who was here for the first time. 

2. I want to be more active in the fan community. 

This is a big one for me. I’ve been to Gally three times before, but somehow this year was finally the con that inspired me to keep this going throughout the year. Yes, I watch and celebrate Doctor Who year round, but in a quiet way, disconnected from the amazing community of people I meet at Gallifrey One. My fandom tends to go dormant throughout the year, perhaps because I don’t really know any fans in my immediate community. 

That’s really why I’m plugging in this site and switching on the lights. So that I can be a part of this conversation. I’ve kept other blogs in the past. I even co-host a movie review podcast that has nothing at all to do with sci-fi fandom or Doctor Who. So why not carve out a little corner online to embrace this part of myself, too?

3. The Doctor Who community is the kind of positive, welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community that the world needs more of and that I’m proud to be associated with.

I feel so inspired by your warmth, your kindness, and the camaraderie I experienced at Gallifrey One. Yes, it was wonderful to meet so many of you in the halls, but I also attended courageous panels like the #MeWho session that I will remember for many years to come. 

I don’t have many long-term plans for this blog. The vision is still a bit hazy. I’m not even sure what I’ll cover on a daily or weekly basis. But you are welcome to join me on the journey, or look in from to time time and say hello. And if you’re a longtime Gally attendee I’ll see you at the next one—even if the new carpets aren’t up to snuff!

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