Shortly after Valentine’s Day, an article was passed and shared around the cosplay newsfeeds. TakoPop’s “Confessions of Secret Cosplay Boyfriend” circulated and it got the community talking. There were mixed feelings ranging from bugged eyed emoticons to humbly agreeing with the secret boyfriend. I do agree about keeping my personal life on the down low regardless of the convention scene or my professional life. Close friends will know my relationship status and my orientation, otherwise it’s no one else’s business. However, I do have issues of what the article presents and how it paints the convention fan community and courting between the otaku species.
1. False Perception
“ Or it might be because some cosplayers think that being perceived as single – and therefore available – will help them gain notoriety and ‘fame”
Let me get this straight. Cosplay is a hobby that’s all done for fun. More and more there seems to be a divide between hobbyist cosplayers and cosplay babes – it’s almost like two different realities. While that is an entirely different topic, allowing your lady to act single in order to gain popularity in an otherwise fun hobby – the girl’s got issues that the both of you need to work out. I do not understand why some cosplayers like to have this false perception, but then again, I have yet to meet a cosplay lady that fakes her relationship status in order to get more attention. Most married cosplayers are now are casually open about their status. I get that people have flirty personalities – single or not – yet, to lead people on to believe you are single is just wrong.
2. But you say he’s just a friend
“I can either be in a department store like Macy’s or Neiman Marcus holding her purse, or I can be at a convention watching her dressed up in a skintight Catwoman suit holding her purse’”
At the time this article went viral, a well-known cosplayer and I got into a mini feud over this statement, particularly to the allusion regarding boyfriends on purse duty. Simply put, I want my significant other to have fun at a con. Shared activities are a part of a healthy relationship. I do not mind if they want to hang out with their amv creator friends while I waltz off to shop for Lolita swag with my frilly friends, but later we regroup for cocktails and dinner…or maybe we’ll watch the amv contest together.
I question when guys come to defense at this particular line – they do not mind being a purseholder at a convention. I question why are you there in the first place. Have fun – if you are spending that much money to be at an anime or comic con, enjoy yourself. However, if you are in a consensual D/S relationship, just remember the safety word.
Oh and yeah, this article reeks of heteronormativity.
3. Cosplayers as Fans / Cosplayers as Celebrities
“Hugh Jackman is married and possibly gay, but that doesn’t stop girls from having a crush on him. So, if a cosplayer says she has a boyfriend, would it REALLY make a bit of difference? Why the secret? Why make a big deal about it at all?”
Here lies my biggest issue with Mr. Secret Boyfriend. The author implies that cosplayers hold up some sort of celebrity status. Cosplayers are not celebrities. With the exception of a few (ie: Alodia in Filipino Dora the Explorer and Mrytle Gail being a recording artist / reality TV star), cosplayers do this hobby for fun. Unfortunately, there are creepy people that do hit on cosplayers regardless of status. However, most people will back off if a person is taken. The plain truth is, for every Tanya Tate there are thousands of hobbyist cosplayers worldwide that do this hobby in the name of a love for a series or character. Playing up a relationship status is the last thing on your typical cosplayer’s mind at the end of the day – if anything, they need to sit down after walking around in them boots.
4. One person cannot speak for the whole
“ Do cosplayers need the attention and pandering of fanboys in order to feed into their fame? Is it necessary for cosplayers to hide their personal relationships in hopes it won’t shatter the hearts and minds of her dorky minionship?”
ABSOLUTELY NOT. Fame should not ever the be driving reason why anyone should get into cosplay. Cosplay is a learning experience in craft. Cosplay is a great way to meet people in the same fandoms are you. Most of all, do cosplay for yourself and not for greased up fanboys. While reaction to this article agrees on playing relationships on the down low, the opposite of it is also just as bad.
A little story from me – I was in a five year relationship with another cosplayer. People knew who we were and that relationship defined who we are. People were spazzing out over us and asking us when our wedding date would be. One photographer kept pushing for dates. Before you think that’s a good thing – to be recognize as that adorable OTP couple – let me tell you this, you never want yourself to be defined by relationships. You lose your individuality. This is an extreme example of the other end of the argument – the couples that spend way too much time with each other that they ignore friends and other fun activities. It’s just as bad as this secret boyfriend nonsense. It’s about balance and meeting halfway.
One of the many criticisms of this editorial is that the author feels he needs to speak for all cosplayer relationships and so-called secret boyfriends. The article just reeks of insecurity and what it is liked to be the whipping boy in the relationship. As mentioned before, if it was a consenting D/S relationship, it would not be an issue. If you were in a relationship like this, I would seriously question the securities of both parties.
Most of all, go to a convention and enjoy yourselves. You already spend a lot on badges, hotel, travel, and other expenses here and there. Don’t just hold the Juicy Couture bag, get your butt into the dealer’s room. The anime industry need your wallet!