Thursday, July 30, 2020

The ones on the outside

Ever stop to ponder how Sherlock Holmes might have a certain appeal to the outsiders among us?

When coming across something like the large accepting group of LGBTQIA+ at an event like 221B Con, one might, at first, consider it just a result of the porny fanfic community who found a  fountain of inspiration in BBC Sherlock. And at this point, many will say, "Well, Sherlock was always gay, so, of course . . ." And you might not agree with that, just as you might not agree that Irene Adler was the one and only love of his life. We all have our favorite matches to make for the boy.

But what really makes Sherlock one of us, whatever your community might be, is if you've ever had that feeling of belonging to the outsiders, those who life has placed outside the mainstream.

Sherlock Holmes was a white, British man in a time when the white, British man was at his peak. This is true. But he took advantage of every privilege he was given, and used it to walk outside the lines. He could have been a doctor, sure. He could have gone to work at Scotland Yard. He could have made his way as a research chemist. But he took none of those roles, and better still, he did not deny all traditional roles simply to go criminal and exist for his own selfish gain. No, Sherlock Holmes stepped outside the lines to help those whose problems were in that area where no traditional answers would serve.

And Sherlock Holmes had a certain acceptance for those who were also on the outside. While "You have been in Afghanistan, etc." might be the famous first line, the more important words Sherlock Holmes says to John Watson will always be, "Come on . . . Get your hat." It's that first moment when Sherlock Holmes offers an invitation to his depressed room-mate who views his life as meaningless. Sherlock Holmes is figuratively holding out his hand with those words and saying, "Join me."

Holmes doesn't see Watson as a potential biographer. He doesn't want Watson to carry a gun and be his backup. He simply thinks that he's going to get a laugh at the expense of Lestrade and Gregson, and his sad old roomie needs a laugh. It's a small kindness, but a kindness none the less. An acceptance of one human being going, "Come on, let's share a laugh."

Sherlock Holmes is never quite who anyone wants him to be, but he gets done what he wants to do. John Watson, as loathe as he is to go on about himself in print, seems to have had a similar problem fitting into a societal norm. And how many fans that have followed their exploits since 1887 would profess toward being one of their fellow folk who stand outside the conventions of life?

A whole lot of us. Even those with a modicum of success inside the systems.

But even in a hobby of so many outsiders, we still find those who think we need to put up fences now and then. Once, that was not letting women attend certain club dinners. Other criteria get proposed on occasion, usually be someone with a specific person or group in mind that they want to keep outside the gate. Creating an "outside" for a hobby based on an outsider, a hobby so normally accepting of outsiders, will always be a burr in my Sherlockian saddle when it arises, and I'm fine with that. It should be the sort of thing that makes us yelp.

And I think Sherlock Holmes himself would like it that way.

"Come on , , , Get your hat." Wonderful words.

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