Deseret News: How fandom connects a community and improves lives

(Deseret News) SALT LAKE CITY — Ryan Glitch is Jedi master — of matchmaking. As a huge “Star Wars” fan hailing from upstate New York, Glitch is the first to admit that fandom has had a tremendous impact on his life. Now, Glitch and a group of friends have spent the past five years using fandom to bring people together through Sci-Fi Speed Dating — a business that travels the country each year at 45 comic cons and fan conventions each year whose motto is “Matches made in fandom.”

Dressed in an elaborate Jedi knight costume complete with lightsaber and richly detailed leather belt bearing the emblem of “Star Wars” resistance fighters, Glitch can’t hide his pride at how well his endeavor has done — 64 marriages so far, and that’s just what’s been reported to Glitch on the speed dating Facebook page.

In the pre-Internet era, the fandom world would be an isolating one. “I don’t mean to mislabel anyone, but we’re all geeks, we’re all fans and it’s hard to meet people with the same passions in the real world,” Glitch said.

But now, comic conventions, online communities and niche services like Glitch’s offer fans of all sorts of connection and support that can enrich and change lives for the better — in all kinds of ways.

“At the end of the day, people are going to say, ‘You dress up like a Jedi? That’s so weird.’ But at the same time, these are the people who think painting yourself blue and standing outside when it’s 3 below to cheer on the Bills is normal,” Glitch said. “This works because you’re stuck in a room with 50 other like-minded people who are all passionate about the same thing. Right now stuff like this is exploding and the geeks shall inherit the earth.”


Fandom brings people together, but it can also help relationships thrive, often in unexpected ways. Just ask patient care advocate and avid video-gamer Katie Burton.

Burton and her husband Aaron run a podcast called Geek Therapist, a show that explores, answers questions and raises awareness about various mental health issues. Their relationship partially blossomed over a mutual love of Dungeons and Dragons and “Silent Hill,” a famous horror video game (…)


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