Fan showcase: Gisbornesboy (part 2)
The press likes to portray intense fans as crazy, and there’s nothing we can do about that, I think. Humans seem to enjoy self-righteous finger-pointing, and as long as we think of others as fundamentally different from us, thinking of other fans as crazy conveniently allows us to hide our own insecurities about our identities. Fandom does so many different things for different people, however, that anyone who looks at it seriously for more than a minute should be led to abandon her prejudices. In continuing to think about this interview last night, I was reminded of an article on so-called “superfans” and their motivations. Often the reason that someone becomes a fan is so personal that it’s not possible to speak of it. This state of affairs is all the more reason for me to have appreciated the openness and sincerity and self-awareness with which Gisbornesboy approached this interview. He articulates, succinctly, one of the greatest possibilities of a fandom: the acceptance of self that one can be inspired to learn in this way. Below, he describes the possibility of using fandom as means to allow all the pieces of one’s personality to work together without judgment, which can make it possible both to change oneself and to learn to love others more as well.
I ask you to treasure and respect his openness as much as I did. Below, the second part of the interview with Gisbornesboy. Part 1, if you missed it, is here.
My personal favorite of Gisbornesboy’s original cartoons of Richard Armitage’s roles, which he’s been publishing on his blog. Note the particular with which he drew the sheep. His photo.
S: You’re also very active in social media, particularly on twitter. What does that bring you?
Gisbornesboy: I’ve always been a bit addicted when it comes to social media. I study media, which gives me another reason to show off my work at various sites and places. But I am also too lazy to stay active while being addicted. I guess I worry too much when on the Internet. I want the people following me to be pleased by the things I do. Whenever I find a new way to express myself I do — twitter, facebook, tumblr, different types of blogs and self-made homepages, and so on. I have about ten tumblr accounts, five facebook accounts, eight twitter accounts, two blogs. I always do more than I can really handle — the reason for me being too lazy to keep on going. But I think some of it is great. I love twitter, especially. One of my favorite places to be at. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to write a novel each time you want to say something. I think that’s the thing about twitter — I don’t have to write that much, just a few words, a few sentences, that’s enough.
S: You have a tumblr with an exuberant title. Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve selected and arranged the images there?
Gisbornesboy: Sadly, I don’t always have time to be on that tumblr, but when I do, I try to select images I enjoy looking at. Since only Richard Armitage-related work goes on that tumblr, I obviously select things about him, mostly pictures. It’s not about how good he looks in the picture, but how much I enjoy looking at it and how it speaks to me. The quality can be poor, but if the image speaks to me, I select it. I try to make them all work together, but lately I just let them figure it out themselves. I mostly want the colors to work together.
S: When I compare what you say about your initial fascination with Armitage to the sort of images on your tumblr, it’s clear that an initial focus on romance — and maybe protection, as you seem to have used the image of Guy of Gisborne as a sort of talisman for dealing with a potentially difficult situation — has now developed an element of sexual desire or visual attractiveness. Is that accurate?
Gisbornesboy: I have no clue! I don’t even know myself. I am the kind of person who acts before I think. But yeah, maybe it is that way. Visual attractiveness for sure. I am a sucker for romance, so I am not really surprised. And since I am a photographer and a sucker for romance, I do tend to chose pictures based on that kind of look. Romantic, calm, peaceful. Living in the moment sorts of things. If you check out my other tumblr, I think you will understand what I mean.
The header on Gisbornesboy’s blog. Quite obviously his own drawing of the wide-eyed Gisborne figure. My cap.
S: And now you’ve turned to blogging? What made you decide to do that?
Gisbornesboy: I’ve been following lots of Richard Armitage blogs from all over the world for who knows how long. I admire the people running the blogs; I get inspired by their strength, their drive, their creativity, their possibilities for continuing. Many of my twitter friends have blogs. I think 99 percent of them are about Mr. Armitage, of course. I thought it over, and I am not writing much on my Swedish blog anymore and I’ve never had one in English before so I wanted to try something new. Having friends supporting me helped. I was hesitant at first, since I am aware of my pattern when it comes to ideas and stuff I want to do. I am very excited at first, but then I get bored and move on to something new. But this time, it feels different. Better. Wonderful! I now have a place to be myself and unleash my creativity.
S: The most noticeable thing about the original cartoons you’ve been blogging lately are their very striking eyes. Why do you emphasize that feature so much?
Gisbornesboy: I actually struggle to create cute and funny cartoons. I studied art & design when I was younger, so I didn’t really do anything cartoon-like during that time. Only realistic art, landscapes, portraits, contrasts and perspective and blah-blah. I learned about things I still like to draw, especially animals. In my own personal opinion, however, it is the eyes that make my drawings look more like cartoons, and the eyes are also the very first thing I draw when I create my RA cartoons.
S: Social media connect us with other fans, but you’re not in the most typical demographic in the Armitage social media. What’s it like, being a late teenage male fan of an actor whose fandom seems to be made up mostly of women over thirty?
Gisbornesboy: It’s a lot of fun! I know there are more teenage male Armitage fans around, but as it’s not that easy to find them, I feel pretty special. Maybe it will be 50/50 sometime in the future! I still love the whole army of “middle-aged” women, though, and I feel very settled and at home in their presence. So I really enjoy it.
Gisbornesboy stuck with Robin Hood for his final choice of a memorable scene.
Gisbornesboy: To me, the most memorable scene in Armitage’s work is the “almost” kiss in episode 13 of the first series, the one that occurs just before the wedding, when Marian comes to ask Guy to deny that he attempted to assassinate King Richard. I could just play that scene over and over again, only that part, like [pauses] for a whole day. I never grow tired of it. Maybe because I waited for it to happen for such a long time.
S: I wonder if we can talk a bit more deeply about the meanings your fandom for Richard Armitage carries for you. I’ve read on twitter that you have dreams that involve Armitage.
Gisbornesboy: I don’t dream about him that often, but when I do it’s all so freaking bizarre. Everything from him speaking Swedish fluently, to him having a baby elephant as a pet.
S: When do you dream them?
Gisbornesboy: I always dream about him when it is connected to another dream; he appears towards the end.
S: What do they mean for you?
Gisbornesboy: They don’t really mean anything to me, but I enjoy them very much because they feel so amazingly real, and we all need a little Armitage therapy sometimes. The latest dream had a very serious, scary, complicated story, but it ended with Richard Armitage being in his parents’ house, dancing with a cat, and then making out with someone beneath the dinner table after drinking a Coke. I mean, if someone can explain that to me, then please do!
Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) dreams in Robin Hood 3.6. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: Did you know, when you saw Robin Hood for the first time, that you were gay?
Gisbornesboy: Hmm. In one way or another, I’ve always known. I wasn’t completely open about it at first; I didn’t really feel obligated to be. Discovering Richard Armitage sure got the engine started.
S: Something about that show and watching Guy of Gisborne made it easier to accept yourself or be open?
Gisbornesboy: I did have girlfriends, with whom I basically didn’t even hold hands, so being gay was always there in the back of my head. It’s been difficult. Before I outed myself completely, I told people I wasn’t attracted to someone based on sex, only on personality. I still care about personality more than anything, but(!). Watching Sir Guy of Gisborne made me realize what kind of partner I wanted to have in the future. No, maybe not a medieval man dressed in head-to-toe leather, but the looks, the way of being, moving. That excited me. Sure, it was Richard Armitage playing that character, but it was Gisborne’s way of being that captured my mind. I would gladly have taken Marian’s place. Sir Guy of Gisborne definitely unlocked my closet. And today I am open to everyone around me and I feel great.
S: Regarding the romantic component of your attraction to the Robin Hood series, it’s interesting that a (rocky, unrequited) heterosexual romance caught your attention.
Gisbornesboy: I have absolutely nothing against heterosexual romance! I can totally relate and be touched by that. As a viewer, you can use your own imagination, basically. I don’t know if a homosexual romance would have caught my attention more. It probably would have. I could almost see something happening between Robin & Much or Allan & Guy, but that’s just a thought. Actually, the romance between Guy and Marian is absolutely one of my favorite romances of all times when it comes to TV shows.
S: One reason this question interests me is that I tend, myself, to identify with Armitage’s characters, especially Mr. Thornton or Guy, rather than with his female costars and/or love interests.
Gisbornesboy: Marian is a very interesting character. She’s not all girly girl or butchy butch, either, which makes it easy for viewers to step into her shoes and take over that role in their imaginations. I have totally done that, in my own thoughts. So even though it is all a big heterosexual romance, it is pretty simple to just [pauses] take someone’s place in your own imagination.
Sir Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) manipulated by Prince John (Toby Stephens) in Robin Hood 3.6. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: Did you develop any interest in the apparently homoerotic elements of the show? A lot of female fans have remarked upon that feature.
Gisbornesboy: I really liked Prince John’s way of being intimate with everyone. And especially with Gisborne. But I’m not sure that is what you mean.
S: For example. Or the moments of almost sexual tension between the Sheriff and Sir Guy. The way, in the first series, that Much clearly feels and expresses the loss of a previous intimacy or emotional exclusivity with Robin after their return to England. All those guys living together in the forest, with a woman who’s pretending to be a man. The way the script has Guy disrobe in front of Allan.
Gisbornesboy: Well, personally, I like it. I would have wished for more of that. I’ve read a few Guy/Allan fanfictions and many of them are very realistic, I think something could have happened between them — the same with Robin and Much. And it wouldn’t have surprised me if the Sheriff had Gisborne do more than paint his toenails, so to speak. I haven’t read much history of that century, but I believe things like that happened.
S: It seems that your Armitage fandom helped you deal with difficulties in growing up.
Gisbornesboy: All kids struggle from time to time, and I was one of those kids. As I mentioned, I didn’t have many friends while growing up. Just a few. I mostly stayed by myself or joined grownups’ conversations. I was a very chubby kid, too. So other kids made fun of me, called me “fat” and other lovely stuff, and I took it so personally that it was extremely painful even to go to school. I managed, obviously. But I’ve always been very sensitive when it comes to my body, and I still am today. Before Richard came into my life, I was a complete nobody. I didn’t have anything representing my sense of self. I can’t even remember what I used to do when I got home from school. I liked dogs and drawing. But that was it. I wore simple clothes, I didn’t have a real hairstyle. But then, when I discovered this man — everything changed. I stood up for myself with other kids, spoke to people, made real friends, started making a real effort in school, got interested in hair and make-up, tried a hundred different hair cuts and hair colors and lost weight. Basically, I got a real personality and a real character because of him.
S: So Guy of Gisborne started it, but in the end, it was more?
Gisbornesboy: Reading about Richard’s life and his desire to act and the way he started as a teenager really got my life to take off. And I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for that. I don’t even know the man, yet he gave me a life. A real life.
The first picture of Gisborne that Gisbornesboy used as a computer background: Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in a publicity still from series 1 of Robin Hood. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: Do you see Richard Armitage as a role model for you in any other way?
Gisbornesboy: Besides helping me through my early teenage years, he is a very big inspiration to me. Eventually, I started roleplaying Robin Hood with a friend. Not out in the forest, but through text. I’ve often played Sir Guy, and more recently I’ve roleplayed as Richard himself — my own creation of Richard. So when people think of me, Sebastian, they also think of Richard Armitage, since he is a part of me, and he always will be. He has changed me for the better, truthfully.
S: I’m intrigued. What’s involved in that? Who does Richard Armitage turn into when you roleplay him?
Gisbornesboy: Oh, my. My ex-boyfriend and I used to (and still do) roleplay as our favorite people / role models because it was a very intimate way of both creating stories and being affectionate. We had a long-term relationship. I’ve been roleplaying for such a long time, so my version of Richard changes depending on [pauses] me, obviously. He can be a bit Gisborneish, but also like Mr. Prince Charming, Harry Kennedy. I do try to stay true to what I know about the “real” him, but I also don’t want to get too close because that would just be weird. I guess you can say that my version of Richard is a copy of Harry with a piece of Lucas North. Yeah, that’s my Richard. When I roleplay him, he is often a confused straight man who discovers his attraction to men.
S: Aside from his talent, what are the qualities in Armitage that you most admire?
Gisbornesboy: His kindness and absolute caring for other people, his polite way of being, the glow he is covered in. Apart from being talented, he is a very nice man. And yes, I don’t know him, but I can just feel it. It is that obvious. He is also very smart and has got such an interesting drive. I want to go bungee jumping, skydiving, and horseback riding now, too, you know?
S: How has he changed you for the better?
Gisbornesboy: From being a very selfish, ignorant person — he made me think about others. Nowadays, I always put others first. I want what is best for everyone else, and then I can do what is best for me. And by achieving that I have gotten ever so close to my family. Our bond is unbreakable and has never been this strong; my friendships have never been this strong; and I have never been this strong. And I’m growing stronger and stronger every day, all thanks to Richard Armitage.
One of Gisbornesboy’s favorite pictures of Richard Armitage. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: How do you think you’ll look at this interest in five years? Ten years?
Gisbornesboy: My admiration and love for Richard Armitage have developed more and more each day since I encountered him, so I am sticking to that sentiment — my love for this man will be even bigger and better! I might not create bags and dolls any more, but my love for him will be just as big.
S: And finally, I have to ask: Where are you on the beard question?
Gisbornesboy: I am all for the beard! I love facial hair — want to grow lots of it myself, but I might have to wait a couple of years until I can be as sexy as Mr. Armitage in a beard. It suits him very well, I think. But — if I could choose between bearded and scruffy, I would go with the scruffy face. I just love scruffy men, and especially Richard Armitage. I mean, he is the reason why that desire started in the first place. But overall, he can be clean shaven or a head-to-toe monkey, I don’t care, everything looks good on that piece of art!
Gisbornesboy reports of himself: I’m eighteen and live in the capital of Sweden with my family. I drew a lot when I was a kid — mostly animals; I also played with dinosaur toys and pretended to be a dog all the time. I bought strawberries, made juice out of them, and used it as my own Mary Poppins medicine. I personally think I am funnier than I actually am, but I try to be a good friend and I am pretty loving and caring. These days, I’m studying photography with the goal of becoming a professional photographer. I am a confident, straight “A” student and am learning about dog psychology as a hobby.
[Fan showcases are an irregular feature on "me + richard armitage." These segments seek to highlight the opinions and activities of a cross-segment of the very diverse group of people who have become fans of Richard Armitage. Previous showcases can be found here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy, jazzbaby1, Amanda Jane, Jane (part 1, part 2, part 3), Prue Batten (part 1, part 2, part 3), mersguy, and Mezz. I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in being interviewed, please let me know. My email address can be found in the sidebar under "About." -- Servetus]