Thirteen years ago, I had never heard of Firefly. I had been working at Equality Now for quite some time and, as usual, we were struggling for funding. I got a call one day, from Renee Balmert from something called "the California Browncoats." She wanted our address in order to mail out a check to us representing proceeds from "ComicCon." The check was for over $3000, a staggering amount of money from one donor, at least it was in our experience. Apparently Joss Whedon had told them we were his favorite charity and they decided to give all the money to us. We were thrilled and grateful and Renee and I started up a conversation as she explained to me what Firefly was and what the Browncoats were.
I immediately purchased a copy of the series and spent the evening in a marathon viewing. Well, let's face it, it's hard not to, right? Those events marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I won't go into the particulars of Joss' relationship to Equality Now as that is common knowledge now for most of you I think. The internet was starting to really come into force and, as I further learned, Joss had a huge and growing network of fans (from his other series Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Firefly) that was quickly becoming a worldwide virtual community. When Firefly was summarily dumped by FOX shortly after its short run in September 2002, this community decided to pool their resources and see how much weight they could put behind their disappointment, actually their outrage, and their loyalty to Joss. I mean, there were episodes that HAD NOT BEEN AIRED YET!!
In any case, you all know the rest. A film was made, Serenity, that closed out the stories of the characters in the beloved series. Throughout this time, I was mostly a bystander and cheerleader, but quickly becoming a true fan, a fan of the fans actually! And, a brilliant idea was forming, in the mind of a Portland, OR fan named b!X who asked the question: "Hey why don't we hold a screening of Serenity on Joss' birthday and raise money for Equality Now." That was June of 2006. 42 cities around the world held screenings that year. As the years went by, Equality Now began receiving checks from all over the country as well as UK, Australia, Canada and Ireland, as groups of Browncoats organized their own screenings. And it all happened at the same time of year! We sent the different organizers our brochures, key chains, bracelets, more brochures, hats and tee shirts for raffles and give-aways, supporting them in any way we could.
For me, it was one of the biggest challenges and most wonderful experiences I had while working at Equality Now. The organizers were fantastic people to work with, all of them, throughout the years. From time to time, new organizers would come in to replace those taking a break and they too were enthusiastic in their support of Equality Now's work, and a genuine pleasure to work with and in some cases, get to know. Their patience with me was absolutely limitless.
And every year, the grand total increased. It was absolutely amazing. Seeing as I was the fortunate one who became liaison between Can't Stop the Serenity and Equality Now, visitors, other staff would ask me "who are the Browncoats and why are they doing this?" Well, it's a long story....
The Browncoats brought me to ComicCon in San Francisco to speak on a panel there, they brought me to the Universal Studios premiere of Serenity, they hosted me in Portland and New York City, and always assured me of my welcome in whatever city's screening I might attend. I was so happy when we were able to organize an appearance by Joss at the SoCal CSTS a few years ago It was to thank all of you in the most meaningful way we could think of. To have you hear it from him.
I left Equality Now in October, after 18 years. More than half of those years were spent interacting with you wonderful people. The fact that together you have raised a total of one million dollars for Equality Now and other charities fills me with so much pride and gratitude. You have worked so hard, on your own time, year after year. Awesome. That's what you are. Totally Awesome. Thank you for all you have done for Equality Now, for me, and for just being the people that you are. You've sent some mighty, mighty good vibes out there into the universe, and it will never be the same.
Stay Shiny but most importantly keep flyin'.
Amanda SullivanContinue Reading...