Growing up geek: How Star Wars (and other pursuits) built my relationship with my mom


Geekhood is generational at this point, and it has been for a long time in my family. For me, I learned how Star Wars has the power to build strong relationships.

I don’t remember the first time I saw any of the original trilogy of Star Wars films. That may sound silly, but it’s legitimately true. By the time 1999 and The Phantom Menace rolled around, I was absolutely ready for the story, with Padmé Amidala shirts (and two of the three dolls, although some part of me is still mildly bitter that I never did find the third). All of this can be traced back to my mom.

It’s hard to describe how my mom changed my life by introducing these things to me, because there’s really never been a time when we weren’t both fans of Star Wars — or lots of other geeky things. She also introduced me to The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Star Trek, fantasy novels, superheroes, and more. (She also let me watch Sailor Moon, too.) At least, if there was a time where I didn’t like at least Star Wars, I can’t remember it anymore, either.

But that’s important, too. There was never any idea that these things wouldn’t be for me because I also happened to like Barbies and other things typically coded as feminine. But it always comes back to Star Wars for the two of us.

In fact, we saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi together last year in theaters during a Thursday night preview, because waiting the few days we had for The Force Awakens two years earlier was not going to do, not when we needed to figure out what was going to happen next. I bought the tickets the day they went on sale, with her full support in doing so, and got us the best seats in the house. We left with two collectible popcorn tins and a lot of opinions on the movie.

I feel like it’s important to say these things because of the ongoing conversation about to whom these pursuits, mainstream or niche, belong. There are those who would like to remind us that things like Star Wars are for everyone, but there are still people who get questioned about if a brother or boy got us interested in a certain thing in the first place. I’m usually not one of them, for which I count myself luckier than most.

Maybe it’s just the confidence I learned alongside the geekiness. My mom doesn’t need to buy the T-shirts; she’ll content herself with hints here and there. But she acts as though she knows she belongs there.

Confidence isn’t the be-all, end-all to what fandom has to continue confronting about itself: that there are ugly parts of it, parts that make people like Kelly Marie Tran feel like she can’t stay on social media. But, at the end of the day, there are things that even the most toxic parts of fandom can’t take away.

For Kelly Marie Tran, it’s her name, Loan.

For me, it’s that my mom and I will always, always have Star Wars. We already have plans for December 2019.