Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Fandom Mourns: Remembering Gisela

It all started with a dream – quite literally.

When Stephenie Meyer’s debut novel Twilight hit shelves in 2005, nobody could have predicted the impact it would have on millions of individuals around the globe. By the time the first film was released in December of 2008, the story had a large following, and fan sites for the saga and the actors began popping up on the internet, serving not only as sources of news and information, but also as places for fans to meet, get to know one another, and share their adoration for the epic love story.

Twilight Conventions, Comic-Con gatherings, and red and black carpet premieres brought fans from around the world together. Friendships were formed, traditions were made, and a fandom unlike any other was built from the ground up.

Throughout the years the Twilight fandom has banded together, not only in support of many charitable causes (the annual Fandom Gives Back fan fiction compilation, for example), but also to support members of its own in times of need. On July 10, 2012, the fandom banded together again to mourn the loss of Gisela “Twi-fan G” Gagliardi.

Gisela traveled all the way from New York to join friends and fellow Twilight fans at Comic-Con in San Diego, CA. Like many other fans, Gisela was waiting in line for Thursday’s Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 panel. While attempting to cross the street, Gisela was hit by a car, and later passed away at the hospital.

Within hours of learning about the news, members from all corners of the fandom were speaking up, remembering their own experiences with Gisela, offering condolences for her friends, families, and fellow fans, and banding together to raise money for Gisela’s family. A Twibbon was created, as well as the hash tag “RIPTwihardG,” to honor Gisela via Twitter, and the saga’s creator wore a black ribbon in honor of Gisela during the panel in Hall H. Twilight stars even took to Twitter themselves, offering their condolences and support:

Through the fundraiser “Mad4Hugh Memorial Fund,” the fandom was able to raise $8,998, surpassing the initial goal of $5,000 by almost $4,000. In addition to the Twilight fandom showing its support and generosity, Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment donated $1,000 to the fund on July 11, 2012, and left the following message: “On behalf of the entire company, our thoughts and prayers are with Gisela’s family, wishing them peace and harmony during this difficult time.”

The fan fiction community also got involved in remembering Gisela. The Fandom4 Twi-fan G compilation was established, and over 50 authors signed up to contribute their work.

As friends, family members, Twilight cast members, and fellow fans continue to remember Gisela G, we also have a chance to once again be reminded of just how strong and amazing this fandom is. Through thick and thin, moments of unrest and solitude, the members of this fandom have stuck together, offering up a shoulder to cry on, words of comfort and condolence, and an international support network for those in need. We’ve laughed together, cried together, hemmed and hawed together, fought with one another, and spent hours in lines, streets, tents, and crowded movie theaters together. But most important of all, we’ve formed a family that will continue to live on even when the lights go down on the final film installment.

I did not know Gisela personally, but over the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about her through her friends on both Facebook and Twitter. Through their stories and the memories they’ve chosen to share, it’s become clear to me that Gisela was a beautiful person inside and out, with a heart of gold and a smile that could light up the entire room. Gisela’s life was something that touched the heart of dozens of people in the fandom.

The comfort for those who were close to Gisela comes in knowing that even though she has left us, her memory will forever live on, and they will always have the love and support of fellow fandom members to count on. Not only is the Twilight fandom a large, close-knit one, but it’s also one that always pays tribute to and forever shines light on the legacy of members that we’ve lost.

Rest in peace, Twi-fan G.

Author: Nikki Storebo, Guest Blogger



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