Exclusive Interview with Participants of the Global Vampire Community Discussion
A while back, I was talking about the Global Vampire Community Discussion, and how important it is for members of the vampire subculture to get together, discuss real issues, and maybe promote more progress, with other members who might be a little behind on the times. It’s easy for a subculture to branch off and become too like an exclusive clique, not allowing some to join, or even answering questions of more curious individuals. The GVCD, for short, brings a lot of important issues to light, and for the purpose of furthering some of that educational spirit, I’ve asked a few of the meeting’s members, such as Zola Zimmerchild, and Isealdor from Vampires.nu, as well as one of the founding member’s of the AVA, Atlanta Vampire Alliance, Merticus, to grace us with a short interview. You can get in touch with any of these people by reading the transcript of the GVCD that is included in the original Global Vampire Community Discussion. So without fursther ado, we hope that we’ve shed some light on your fascination with real vampires.
Q: What do you think is the largest major concern facing the modern vampire subculture?
Isealdor: I would say that currently, the largest concern and struggle for the modern vampire subculture is trying to solidify identity and structure for the various facets in the subculture. There are so many groups and communities within the subculture and so much crossover between them that it’s difficult for a lot of the groups and people to really settle on a set identity as a group and agree on it, especially without excluding those who do cross over from one aspect of the subculture to another. For example, there are those who are part of the subculture by subscribing to the vampire lifestyle or role-play aspects, those who identify as real vampires, or those who consider themselves vampiric or use vampiric practices in conjunction with things like ritual magick…however, there are a good many who identify as real vampires who also enjoy following a vampire lifestyle, so the lines between and sense of identity of each of the facets tends to blur, while the subculture at large is striving to define them more clearly. This struggle tends to manifest itself in arguments about definitions and a high prevalence of “us vs. them” mentalities and speaks of an overall unwillingness for people to simply agree to disagree.
Merticus: By my own estimation, the vampire community or subculture risks significant contraction due in large part from the lack of those willing to invest the time and energy in mentoring and assisting others who’re awakening or trying to comprehend their own personal vampirism. The flood of media and pop-cultural interest in the vampire archetype along with those who identify with modern or real vampirism has led many in the community to step back from active roles, retreating to their own established private groups or comfort zones away from the limelight. While I sympathize with this reaction, I also see a void being formed as new seekers and awakening vampires are left in many cases to read articles from individuals who’ve long since vanished from the community, browse an ever-shrinking number of vampire-related forums, and search for information amidst a plethora of web sites which sometimes may provide poor information or a blending of fiction and reality.
This concern can most adequately be addressed by steps some in the community are taking now towards the streamlined organization of information and by the networking of various online and offline groups. Everyday life obligations have taken precedence and in some cases the patience has waned with some leaders in the community who once were available and eager to take the time to be available to the curious. Making sure that detailed information is readily available and searchable on the internet or in published books is very important. This is one of the reasons the Voices of the Vampire Community (VVC) has consistently posted transcripts of our public meetings and global community discussions. Our hope is that the vampire community will begin to solidify a more defined set of goals and direction moving into the future.
Zola Zimmerchild: Being taken seriously. So many times I’ve run into, “you can’t be serious,” or something along those lines. People don’t want to realize that our condition is real.
Q: What would you say is holding modern vampires back, as a group, from social integration? Is the blame interior, exterior, or shared?
Isealdor: I would very much say the lack of total social integration is from a mixture of reasons from both within and outside of the subculture. First and foremost that I often see is the lack of desire for social integration from within the community. By and large, the subculture is one that is defined by how we are different than those outside of the subculture, and, perhaps unfortunately, that’s often one of the major drawing points for many coming into the community; we set ourselves apart as being somewhat different, even define ourselves by a difference between us and the rest of society, so many who come into the community feel that they are different in some way or another, find a place in the subculture, and feel validated in that feeling of being different, and even are often subtly encouraged to maintain that. That, in turn, directly effects how modern vampires are perceived by those outside of the group, because the group will intentionally do things to set themselves apart, leading to some of the exterior reasons for a lack of social integration. Those on the outside are likely to simply look at those involved in the vampire subculture and simply view us as being different, and treat us accordingly, increasing some of that distance. However, I think the primary influencing factors from those outside of the subculture preventing social integration are general ignorance and apathy; people, by and large, do not know much about the subculture unless they are involved with it in some way or another, nor do they have any desire to learn, which is understandable, given it doesn’t affect them.
Merticus: There’s a myriad of forces exerting negative pressures on the vampire community from all sides. This phenomenon is not new nor should any of us expect it to ever completely disappear. For one, the books, films, and artistic depictions of the vampires lead to increased attention and intra-community groveling about having to answer inane questions from teenagers wanting to learn how they can be transformed into vampires. Along with the occasional deviant labels cast onto vampires by the media and satanic panic charlatans who seek to prey on the fears of the public, there are also individuals within the community who thrive on chaos, misdirection, and ego trips akin to extreme narcissism.
While many of us strive to educate those outside of community that we harbor many of the same concerns, emotions, and feelings as anyone else without infringing on the rights of others, there are those who interpret this outreach as counterintuitive to the fundamental spirit or concept of the vampire. They argue that the actions and beliefs of sanguinarian, psychic, and other vampiric identities are a private matter warranting no need for explanation to those on the outside. I believe there is a delicate balance which must be maintained between the desire for privacy and anonymity with the transparency of certain aspects of vampirism if we wish to be recognized as a legitimate identity group. Social integration is not the consummate goal of most vampires so much as having the respect of others to allow us the right to coexist without prejudice or retaliation against our practices, beliefs, or state of our existence.
Zola Zimmerchild: I’ve run across several people who don’t want to integrate, they would rather stay separate, and for the most part, secret. Mostly because of how we’ve been received so far. So, I believe, that the blame is defiantly [sic] shared.
Q: We get many inquiries from people interested in “becoming” vampires, what advice can you give for those interested?
Isealdor: Whenever I get questions from those seeking to become a vampire, what I find most often is they aren’t really aware of what vampirism is or what they are wanting, or why. My best advice to them would be to learn everything they can about vampirism and vampires and what it means for someone to be a vampire, and for them to stop and consider why they wish to be a vampire and what they believe would actually change or be different if they were. More often than not, the majority of those seeking to “become vampires” are dissatisfied with their lives and think vampirism may somehow change their current situation, are caught up with the romanticized appeal of the vampire archetype, and are interested in the vampire lifestyle and role-play aspects. Through education, they’re likely to discover they really don’t want to be a vampire—they want to either be part of the vampire lifestyle scene or want to learn things like energy working.
Merticus: The prevailing view of most vampires is that we are born as such or possess a latent predisposition to awaken to what we metaphorically refer to as “vampirism”. Vampires are not turned, made, or otherwise created by a series of steps, adherence to any particular doctrine, magickal invocation, or the adornment of fangs and other fanciful vestments. While some may argue vampirism is glamorous or that it affords someone an increased proficiency in one attribute or another, many would be quick to point out negative physical, psychological, and other impediments towards living a healthy and balanced life. Only you can determine for yourself if you are vampiric and then only by serious introspection, healthy skepticism, and the ruling out of other factors such as medical conditions or a passing fascination with vampires. Nothing about vampirism is transitory nor should it be sought after as if it were some coveted blessing.
Zola Zimmerchild: To be happy with who they are. Being a vampire is no picnic, there are many of us who would choose not to be this way, if given the option.
Q: Some feel that the vampire subculture is exclusive, and that there’s a lot of inner turmoil about what exactly is expected of a modern vampire. Can you give a firm definition of what a vampire is in your own opinion or experience?
Isealdor: My definition of what a vampire is is multifaceted, because I see the many applications of the label as equally valid, though very distinctly different. As such, I’d say “vampire” is a seven-letter word that has been assigned to and associated with so many things and has so many varied definitions, depending on who you are asking, that I think it now borders on being utterly meaningless as a description, because there is no one set definition.
There are first, of course, the vampires of fiction and folklore, ranging from those like Dracula, truly a zombie-like undead, to the romantic versions of the word embodied by the likes of Anne Rice’s Lestat and Louis, to the teenage, sparkly beings out of the currently popular Twilight series. Or, in a less dramatic sense, the historical instances of people who were buried alive, then exhumed only for people to find that they’d clawed at the insides of their coffins. Then there are also the medical, pseudomedical, and pseudoscientific types of vampirism, such as the thoughts populated of porphyria and the V5 virus, and the vampirism of animals or insects who are termed such only because their diet is purely of blood. Next, there are those who consider themselves vampires by their choosing to follow a vampiric lifestyle. This tends to split into two categories; those who actively drink blood or draw metaphysical energy from others and, as such, are vampiric, and those who follow a more neogothic lifestyle, complete with capes, fangs, sleeping in coffins, and wearing white makeup and entirely black clothing. To further confuse matters, some of these vampires, often referred to as lifestylers by themselves and others, may also be vampires of other definitions of the word and simply also choose to live a vampiric lifestyle.
Finally, the definition I most commonly use when talking about vampirism and vampires revolves around a modernistic metaphysical and need-based description. I personally would say that a vampire is someone who requires a supplement, gained either through physical consumption of certain things (such as blood) or via the direct absorption of metaphysical energy, to be able to maintain the balance of their system; that such need for supplementation to their system is long term and constant; and is not caused by addiction, fetish, temporary injury or illness (physical or to their energy system), or influence from an outside source.
Merticus: It’s important to understand that the vampire community (subculture) and vampirism are two different entities. The politic of the vampire community or the socialization of vampires with other vampires sometimes gives way to a perception of exclusivity, hierarchy, or other trappings. This is largely dependant on who one interacts with or to what level one is willing to immerse themselves in the culture. There is no prerequisite for those who are vampires to participate at any level with the greater community or for vampires to dogmatically follow any specific protocol. The act or state of vampirism is likewise interpreted through a variety of different lenses depending on the group or individual. I broadly define sanguinarian and psychic vampirism as follows:
A vampire is essentially an energy feeder or blood drinker that may display various levels of psychic ability. While the causality, interpretation, and sometimes even the “proper” spelling of vampirism are debated, vampires are generally individuals who cannot adequately sustain their own physical, mental, or spiritual well-being without the taking of blood or vital life force energy from other sources; often human. Without feeding the vampire will become lethargic, sickly, depressed, and often go through physical suffering or discomfort. To a degree, the specifics of vampirism manifest differently on an individual basis and these nuances sometimes insulate the confusion in defining the vampiric range of ability and experience.
Zola Zimmerchild: My basic definition of vampire is; a person who needs to consume energy or blood in order to maintain a healthy existence.
Q: From reading over your group meeting, I noticed that there were a lot of complaints about vampires that are simply “roleplayers”. How do you feel about the theory that sometimes, roleplaying actually serves as a welcoming door to the vampire subculture?
Isealdor: I would say that the roleplay community is part of the vampire subculture as a whole, and very often functions as a introduction to the rest of the subculture for many people. I don’t think, however, that I would particularly consider it to be a welcoming door, simply because there is so much stigma in the other parts of the subculture against those who are part of the more roleplay aspects. A door, certainly, but perhaps more of a backdoor than an overly welcomed one. However, one cannot ignore that a large portion of the structure of the subculture in general was originally taken from the roleplay communities and adapted to suit the needs and purposes of the communities at large. One notable example of this would be the prevalence of Houses, Courts, etc. in the real vampire community. While they are not roleplay oriented groups and communities, much of the initial terminology and structure was borrowed from various roleplay games. As such, roleplaying can very much introduce people to at least some of the structural and cultural dynamics of the rest of the subculture, if not the nuances of the terminology that has [sic] been changed and adapted over the years to suit different purposes.
Merticus: Generally a distinct line is maintained between vampire roleplayers or dabblers with that of the actual vampire community or subculture. Those who come into the community from the aspect of roleplaying games or fantastical ideas of vampires and frequently interject this in their conversations or posts, often find themselves shown the door on forums and in groups. However, this is not to say that many vampires don’t find their way to the community through the gateways of roleplaying games and even other overlapping subcultures. Generally those with the presence of mind to quietly observe and learn all that they can from reading before choosing to interact are the one’s [sic] that distinguish themselves as the ideal well-rounded participant; able to discern the difference between healthy fantasy and reality.
On the other hand, there is often a blurred line between that of lifestyle vampires and the vampires who insist upon the need to feed from either blood or life-energies. Wearing prosthetic fangs, attending Goth clubs, and possessing a passion for a darker or more esoteric side of life doth not a vampire make. However, none of these factors exclude one from being a vampire either. It’s not uncommon to find individuals who embrace the stereotypical vampire image but privately adhere to the feeding practices and beliefs held by real vampires. The ability for other vampires to determine who among the lifestylers are indeed real vampires, is often a key challenge and area of contention for some in the community.
Zola Zimmerchild: I am open to all sorts of avenues to exploring and learning about different culture and societies. If playing a roleplaying game about vampires leads someone to learning about the real subculture, and want to participate in it seriously, that’s great.
Q: There are very few “vampire crimes”, i.e., crimes involving a vampire perpetrator and a non-vampire victim, but the vampire assailants of the modern era are infamous, and quickly become completely blown out of proportion. How does the vampire community, in your opinion, react to these setbacks?
Isealdor: By and large, the majority of the community tends to be either oblivious to the few “vampire crimes” that do come up from time to time, or simply don’t care and ignore them. Virtually all of the vampire crimes and criminals come from the very fringes of the community or, more often, from outside of the community, and so the impact on the community itself is very small. The only reaction that typically happens in the community at large has more to do with those who come into the community, asking if we are like whatever criminal, or if they were one of us, and so a general response is often given that the community tends much, much more toward nonviolence and is comprised of those who are more representative of the norms of society as far as being typically law-abiding goes.
Merticus: Real vampires are too often mistakenly thrust into the same category of ritual animal or human sacrifice, fetishism or classified as some other form of paraphilia, fanatical religious expression or cults, and labeled as unstable threats to themselves and others. We are almost universally not the individuals who commit ritualistic crimes involving human sacrifice, cannibalism, and murder as sometimes portrayed by the media. We resent when the actions of mentally disturbed individuals are lauded as an example of an inextricable link to modern vampirism; some going further to insinuate that our subculture encourages and condones such behavior. Those who commit acts of violence or similarly egregious behavior within the vampire community are almost universally roleplayers or dabblers who’ve lost touch with reality or long-term psychologically imbalanced persons who pose a threat to society whether they label themselves as a “vampire” or not.
As a community, we’ve weathered most of these recent depictions by being both diligent to the awareness of instances where such distinctions are made and quick to respond with letters or counter arguments when appropriate. Despite individuals such as Don Rimer and Dawn Perlmutter who help contribute spurious information that leads to further negative depictions of vampires; I’m trying to remain optimistic that we are making positive strides towards being better understood by those in law enforcement and represented more accurately in published media articles.
Zola Zimmerchild: It’s always upsetting that vampire gets attached to an individual that commits a crime, of any kind, or that they use being a vampire as part of the excuse for those crimes. Often when this happens, people will say that that is the reason why we shouldn’t be public. That we should continue to be hidden from those that are not a part of our “world.” I also see outrage and people want to make statements in regards to these individuals, to show that we do not condone such acts as they have committed, but no one seems to know where to begin or how exactly to address these things.
Q: What statements do you have for the “non-believers”, those reading who are particularly cynical of the vampire subculture?
Isealdor: I wholeheartedly invite those who are nonbelievers or cynical, and particularly those who are truly skeptical, to learn everything they can about vampirism and about the vampire community, and challenge them to make attempts to understand the subculture and its various groups. If one professes to be a non-believer in something, I think it behooves them to truly understand what they are not believing in, since there is a good deal of difference between not having a belief in something and disbelieving it. On the specific topic and branch of real vampirism and the real vampire community, I would encourage those who are cynical or skeptical to view the community as a subculture and identity group, and consider it from that perspective, rather than trying to force those in the community into the mold of following a specific belief system. I believe that helps considerably in trying to understand the beliefs and views of those in the community, as well as understanding the community at large, even if one completely disagrees with the beliefs that are commonly held by those in the community. I also encourage anyone truly interested to speak with people in the community directly, with an open mind (though not so open one’s brains fall out), and to truly consider and weight [sic] everything they are presented with, rather than coming into the community with the expectation of having people willing and wanting to “prove them wrong”. Open-minded skepticism and critical thinking, as well as a liberal application of logic, can go a very long way when attempting to understand a group dissimilar from one’s self.
Merticus: There is nothing wrong with true skepticism and this is something that should also be practiced by those who are part of the vampire community when questioning the reality of their vampiric experience. I’d advise anyone who is skeptical or even cynical to study all of the available information on vampirism written by those in the community as well as by outside researchers. If you have the opportunity to attend a gathering with those who identify as vampires take the opportunity and ask questions of those you meet. It’s easy to dismiss a group of individuals whose experiences are unlike your own or are outside of your area of expertise. Many in the vampire community are willing to engage with skeptics and non-believers alike who are willing to engage in serious and respectful dialogue. More often than not, people who think they have nothing in common with someone who identifies as a vampire are surprised to find themselves engaging with one on an intellectual level if given the opportunity.
Zola Zimmerchild: Our condition is real. We do not expect you to just take our word for it, but we live with it. We do not claim superhuman powers or abilities. We are not going to burst into flames if we go into the sunlight, and many of us even enjoy garlic. We are pretty much like everyone else, except for how we maintain our health.
Q: Many people believe that modern vampirism is nothing short of a bio-hazard, because of the blood transfers involved. How do you practice safety, and what advice can you offer others?
Isealdor: Safety, in everything from dealing with online predators and standard online safety, to emotional and relationship risks and safety, to bio-hazard and medical well-being concerns in relation to bloodletting practices and the health of all involved is one of the universally promoted things in the vampire community. I see the main key to safety being common sense and education. Everyone involved in any sort of relationship, be it online communications with others to a donor-vampire relationship involving blood feeding, needs to be fully educated of the risks and concerns involved with what they’re doing, as well as be constantly vigilant about their health and safety. One of the first things I often tell people when they come into the community complaining of physical symptoms is to see their doctors, to make sure there are [no] medical conditions they are suffering from. The same goes for anyone wanting to be involved in bloodletting—proper eduction of anatomy, the risk factors involved in any sort of bodily fluid exchanges, and warning signs for dangerous situations are heavily stressed. One of the most important things I particularly advocate is discouraging the use of medical paraphernalia such as needles unless the parties involved have been professionally trained to use them and know and understand all of the problems that can arise with them. When it is possible for the individual, which isn’t always the case, I advocate opting for non-physical methods of feeding. However, likely due in large part to the vigilance on the part of the community as a whole about safe practices and the social disapproval and often ostracization within the subculture toward anyone who doesn’t conform to safe practices, there doesn’t seem to be a high rate of bio-hazard related issues within the community. In fact, according to one of the newest sets of results from the VEWRS survey (a survey conducted across the vampire and energy working communities), the prevalence of HIV/AIDs in respondents is slightly below the national average, which would likely not be the case if there was less emphasis on safety.
Merticus: Sanguinarian vampirism is only one feeding method ascribed to vampirism and therefore when one refers to modern vampirism it should not be automatically interpreted as always involving blood. When blood feeding is involved, we go to great lengths to both educate ourselves and provide for the safety of all those involved. This education on safe feeding methods, includes basic anatomy and physiology, first aid, sterilization, disease prevention, and safer sex practices. In all matters relating to feeding we exercise judgment with a clear and alert mind, acknowledging the bond between vampire and donor. Anyone who performs an activity that is knowingly harmful, negligent, or contrary to the prior expressed desires of a donor may endure harsh and openly voiced or published criticism within the vampire community as well as potentially become subject to involvement from law enforcement.
Anyone who participates in blood feeding (both vampire and donor) should be regularly tested for blood borne diseases and provide paperwork of a clean bill of health as necessary to their donor or partner. I’d encourage others to read up on documents such as The Donor Bill of Rights, The Black Veil v2.0, The Vampiric Ethos, and other individual group or House ethics and feeding guidelines. Furthermore, one should supplement their knowledge by independently researching disease prevention, blood testing, and wound care.
Zola Zimmerchild: I currently do not have a donor for my blood needs, I use animal blood. As for advice, I would strongly suggest training in phlebotomy, for blood retrieval, and to make sure that their donor is free of communicable diseases. As for other methods of blood retrieval, I suggest reading up on safe blood letting practices, this should include using sterilized equipment, and proper wound care. The vampire should also make sure that they are free of communicable diseases, if they do not use the cupping method when retrieving the blood.
Q: Do you have any recommended reading for those seriously ready or curious about joining the vampire lifestyle?
Isealdor: I recommend anyone interested in the vampire subculture and communities to read most everything they can get their hands on, join at least some of the discussion forums or elists, and to take part in the online chats or attend whatever meetup group gatherings that may be local to them, and talk with those in the community. There is an overwhelming plethora of information available online, even in several languages, and given the ease of accessibility of the internet, websites like the VVC website, the Vampire Realm of Darkness, Sanguinarius’s Real Vampire site, and the Real Vampires Google search engine, which is a custom search for the major and a number of the smaller real vampire websites, are all wonderful resources for those interested. Also, for sources in the printed form, I would very highly recommend “Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism” by Joseph Laycock and Michelle Belanger’s “The Vampire Codex”.
Merticus: I’d recommend the following two books that both provide a detailed overview of vampirism and the vampire community; one from a scholarly or sociological perspective and one from the experiences of vampires themselves:
Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism
By Joseph Laycock – Praeger Publishers 2009
Vampires in Their Own Words: An Anthology of Vampire Voices
By Michelle Belanger – Llewellyn Publications 2007
I’d also encourage anyone who’s interested in exploring both the sociological and phenomenological aspects of vampirism to examine the findings of the Vampirism & Energy Work Research Study conducted by Suscitatio Enterprises, LLC in association with the Atlanta Vampire Alliance [AVA] from 2006 to 2009.
Q: Do you think popular vampires in fiction, film, and television set you back in terms of popularizing superstitious beliefs, or ahead, in terms of curiosity and interest in the lifestyle?
Isealdor: I would say the current vampire craze has both helped and hindered the vampire community, having both created new fictional beliefs about vampires and re-popularized old ones, and having opened up a platform of interest in the community and subculture in general. The increased interest and curiosity of the general public can be both a good and a bad thing. While we are now regularly asked if we sparkle in the sunlight and the community is growing extremely rapidly, people out of the community have had the opportunity to express their thoughts and beliefs about vampirism on major news networks and portions of the academic world has started to take a more serious interest in the subculture. I’d like to think that more academic attention to the community is a productive things [sic] and a step forward, and worth the increased attention from other directions.
Merticus: The mainstream culture in the last several years has increasingly become interested in exploring all aspects of the vampire archetype and the concept of vampirism. What once held interest for Dracula enthusiasts and folkloric scholars has transformed into a multi-million dollar entertainment and pop-culture industry. We’ve been bombarded with the image of the vampire from HBO’s TrueBlood to Meyer’s Twilight to countless written works geared towards the many faces of vampirism. As we continually push the limits of sensory experiences, normalize atypical forms of sexuality, and examine the boundaries of the human psyche the vampire will transform according to what desires or needs society is yearning to satiate. This often takes the form of the bad-boy or predatorial stereotype, a theme of immortality and preservation, or anything that’s outside of the realm of reality yet struggles as would any common man faced with the same hardships – life or death – pleasure or pain – love or loss. As the global economy continues to labor in uncertainty I don’t anticipate the interest in vampires waning. Producers, advertisers, and writers have found a golden goose and their market has demonstrated with their wallets they desire more and more of this edgy phenomenon.
For those of us who identify with real vampirism, the saturation of interest in the vampire has resulted a cross-pollination between folklore, fantasy, and fiction with that of the once relatively obscure subculture. As mentioned earlier, this has presented a quandary for some who assert that the community should retreat underground to avoid the exposure and risk of being misunderstood and others who claim this is an ideal opportunity to explain to others we’re not unlike the greater society and share similar concerns, professions, beliefs, and interests like everyone else. There are numerous stereotypes and misconceptions which have been continually perpetuated that I hope will either decrease or become adequately clarified over time. It’s an ideal opportunity for the public to be interested in vampirism because at no prior time were we as organized, widely published, or educated as a collective on the aspects of modern vampirism as we are now.
Zola Zimmerchild: I think it’s a bit of a double edged sword. I run into a lot of confusion about what we are claiming to be because of what has been popularized in books and on screen. Often it is though that we are trying to claim superhuman powers and abilities, and we are not asked about this. Other times, on forums that cater to vampires, new members will show up saying that they enjoyed some form of vampire media and wanted to learn more about real vampires. I welcome these people, and offer them assistance.
Q: Finally, what advice can you give those who are interested in becoming donors?
Isealdor: The first piece of advice I would give to anyone who is interested in being a donor is to learn everything they can about vampirism and safe practices, and that they have to be their own best advocate and take care of themselves first. Donors are one of the most important but commonly and sadly overlooked parties involved in the community, and often not as much emphasis is put on their thoughts, feelings, and well-being from their perspective. Rather, most information about donors in the community is geared toward those who identify as vampires. That information, however, can be extremely valuable to someone interested in becoming a donor, as it allows them to understand things from the perspective of the vampire. I would strongly recommend that someone who wants to be a donor speak with other donors and with vampires who have established donor relationships about issues and concerns they’ve had and ask as many questions as they can. I also would highly stress to a potential donor that they are responsible for communicating clearly with anyone they donate to, maintaining their safety and health and the safety of the person they’re donating to, and, perhaps most importantly, that if they are ever uncomfortable or unsure about something, the best choice is always to say no until and unless they are comfortable and sure it’s something they want to do.
Merticus: Step back for a moment and ask yourself why you wish to be a donor. If you determine that your reasons are justified and healthy in accordance with your life, decide what boundaries you’re willing to place on both yourself and the vampire you are serving as a donor for. Ask yourself what are your expectations from the exchange. Educate yourself about vampirism and any groups or individuals your vampire regularly associates with. Likewise, find someone who is willing to answer the questions you may have and other donors you can discuss or exchange ideas with on a regular basis. Most importantly, become intimately familiar with safety techniques if feeding from blood or sex is involved.
Zola Zimmerchild: Do your research and don’t go in blind. Be aware of the side effects to the type of donating you are interested in. Be aware of donation techniques and make sure you are comfortable with them. Don’t let anyone pressure you into donating, or tell you that you have/need to donate to them. It is your choice to donate, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Be safe and don’t be shy.