Is It Time For A Vampyre Rights Movement?

(Originally posted November 10, 2010) What is your opinion about a movement to get recognition for Vampyres (or vampiric people) as a “valid” identity group? This question refers to Vampyres as a social group achieving Mundane society’s recognition in the same way as they view LGBT, or religious or racial minorities?

I know, there has been talk of this in our community over the past 20 years or so. I know there have been some groups trying to do this in the past, although I have heard it said that trying to get Vampyres to agree on anything and then act on it is like herding cats.

Some folks have aired their views that Vampyres are not just an identity group, but a unique group of individuals, who should be identified as a racial group. There are problems with this view, such as the fact that Vampyres are born of Mundanes as well as of other Vampyres, so we cannot really claim to be wholly separate on the basis of genetics alone – and because of this, Vampyres cannot be shown to be a separate species or race.

There have been serious studies done in recent years, to try and determine what makes us what we are, and even to demonstrate that we exist, and there are researchers at work trying to find demographic differences in medical and biological markers between us and Mundanes, but this is still a long way from showing any tangible fruit. Now, while I feel the same way about us having inborn characteristics, and being unique in many ways – but the problem at this stage is showing medical and scientific evidence to support it. We cannot even claim that being vampiric is a religion, because only some of us view it as being so, and even those who do adhere to different paths. At this stage, there is simply nothing concrete in argument for recognition as anything more than a cultural or identity group, so I’ve taken that as a good place to start.

Many others feel that we are better off being obscure and unknown, and their argument does have some merit, after all – while people do not believe that real Vampyres exist, they cannot really discriminate against us, except of course to discriminate against people whom they perceive as believing that they are vampires in as far as they understand the fictional stereotype.

I note some of the arguments against this suggestion, listed below:
1) Mundanes would hate or fear us.
2) They would treat us as they treat other minorities (LGBTI etc)
I would like to suggest that:
1) Many already do; but
a) because we’re not recognized as a “valid” group, we have no real specific legal protections against persecution or bigotry,
b) we have no real platforms to educate Mundanes about us, thereby diminishing their fear and in turn, their hatred and persecution of us.
2) I think they already do this, but the way they are treating other Mundane minorities is gradually improving worldwide (at least in the West) – while we are victimized or ignored.

At the moment I would say that stigmas being attached by the media – such as the recent Shelby Ellis disappearance in the USA, where Vampyres were blamed for her “abduction” and demonized as being part of “cults” – and the extensive use of the “Satanic panic” defense – despite it later emerging that the Vampyre community was in no way associated with this incident – except of course, by being blamed for it.

I might point out that since this defamation and accusations against an entire community, neither the girl’s parents nor any other group which added to the prejudice against our community, seems to have offered any form of apology or retraction.

It seems that there is a tendency tobelieve that , “there is no need to apologize, because Vampyres do not exist” – except of course, when something is to be blamed on them.

As a whole, the media does not give credence to us, in fact, they often go out of their way to highlight the “dangers” we are claimed to present to Mundane society, and sensationalize us and our culture to the point of ridicule and animosity.

Despite the fact that most articles or documentaries focus on only a tiny, very visible minority, Vampyres as a sum total are summarily painted as lunatics or cult-followers who either cannot be taken seriously – or should be taken so seriously as to be institutionalized or otherwise removed from society.
Every murder or assault with a hint of “vampire” about it gets blown out of proportion or leads to media focus on us in a negative light. The only marginally positive coverage we seem to get is on talk shows when people come on stage to set each other on fire or drink human blood on live TV in some kind of attempt to educate Mundanes about how “harmless” we really are.
I think shows like that actually do just as much harm as good. And don’t forget those documentaries which end up getting used against us by religious fundamentalists to fan the flames of intolerance and victimization. People who drink blood or perform energy-work are portrayed as “evil”, “devil worshipers” and “Satanist child-killers”, and as a dangerous threat to them, their families – and their society.

Then there are the whack-jobs who take their prejudice a step further, and assault or kill people they suspect are witches or Vampyres. Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. In the US a few years ago, one guy was shot in the face by a religious fundamentalist co-worker who only suspected he was a vampire. In Australia in 2003 I think, another public and open Vampyre was murdered by a contract killer. In Africa, many people accused of witchcraft and vampirism are regularly murdered by lynch mobs. While in the West these cases are rare – but they do happen, and they serve as a case in point.

Being persecuted or being bashed or killed for who or what you are, or for specific characteristics or even for your beliefs is considered to be hate crime today – and being a target for hate crime defines a target group as a group requiring some form of recognition, be it in terms of legal protection or validation as an identity group.

People in the mainstream tend to see their own beliefs about deities and their own perception of reality as somehow more valid or justifiable than how others may view themselves or their beliefs – especially whenever they differ from theirs. Apparently the right of some to believe whatever they believe is seen to be somehow “more valid” than our right to believe whatever we believe to be true about ourselves, or to exercise our beliefs without causing harm to others.
Somehow this misconception is justified with the excuse that because more people follow a certain belief, it is “more valid” than another, or “more right” while the others are “wrong” and “dangerous” because they are different. Some people see a need, because of their own beliefs, to destroy or persecute anything which differs from theirs.

We Vampyres see ourselves as a unique group in many ways. We tend to dislike or disagree with how we are portrayed in the media and in fiction. After all, imagine the public outcry if gay or transgender people were portrayed whole-sale as evil monsters in horror movies, as we have been for the past – oh, 100 years? And then about 40 years ago some real people started to emerge from the shadows, who were vampiric and whose unique needs identified them as Vampyres… Surely the vampire myth, religious vilification and fictional hype has played a part in developing a dangerous sterotype that could lead to stigmatization and victimization in real life?

Yes, they may argue that these are the fictional vampires – that makes it alright then – but clearly some people cannot tell them apart from us – and imagine how well that excuse would work today if they made a movie showing gay men getting shot as monsters because they are gay, or portraying Christians as bad guys getting burned alive as demons simply for being Christians – and then claiming that these were “only fictional gay men or imaginary Christians”. Think that would fly? No, I didn’t think so either.

“Everybody knows” that gay men and Christians exist and are real, after all, there is almost no reason for them to hide anymore – but “nobody” believes that there are real Vampyres out there. That is, nobody – but us vamps. And we are out there, walking silently among them in the shadows of anonymity.
The key to any rights movement is activism, public relations and education programs. Education about who and what we are may eventually reduce ignorance and fear, but to do that we need mountains of information and facts from credible sources who can be contacted and verified. Currently we are a little short on that, unlike our LGBT friends, who have at least 30 years head-start on us in that department. But it has to start somewhere.

There are groups which have already made a great beginning by gathering statistics through recent surveys and making inroads into psychology, but if there is to be any kind of rights movement for Vampyres, we will need much more than that.

So here I pose the question: Is it time for a Vampyre Rights movement? You tell me.

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