Happy fifteenth anniversary, BPAL! YER ALMOST OLD ENOUGH TO DRIVE.
Before anything else, I’d like to thank our customers. You are more than clients; you are our friends, our extended family. Thank you for being with us through so much – through bright days and darkness, through sorrow and joy. Thank you for the gift of your friendship, thank you for standing with us through difficult times, thank you for sharing our laughter and the burdens of our grief. The community that has grown around BPAL these past fifteen years is like nothing else in this world, online or off. True, everlasting friendships – the love of family – is evident everywhere I look. Whenever I go onto the forum, I bear witness to incredible acts of love and kindness. We support one another selflessly in times of need, and I hold each and every one of you as models of emotional generosity and true friendship. It is an honor for me to be a part of your lives, and my gratitude is beyond words. Thank you for everything that you have brought to my life, thank you for everything. I know I’ve said it many, many times: the single most important gift that Black Phoenix has given me throughout this decade is the phenomenal, world-encompassing family that I now have because of all of you. You can’t imagine how much you mean to me. Thank you.
With all my love and gratitude…
Thank you, Brian, for being the dearest and truest of friends. You are the spine of this company, its rock-solid foundation. Without you, this company would be a series of abstract ideas without form. You help me manifest my strange daydreams, you always make me laugh, and you never, ever let me down. Thank you for putting up with my shit,I love you, big brother.
Thank you, Ted, for being my heart’s joy, my true love, my soulmate, my muse, and my strength. You are as vital to me as breath and light, and as much a part of me as the blood that flows through my veins. Thank you for being my Prince Charming, thank you for always being there for me, thank you for your patience, your sober counsel, your laughter, your filthy mind, your sense of humor. Thank you for being you, thank you for being mine.
Lilith, you are my muse and my angel, my little werewolf, my baby bat. You are the light in my heart, you are my joy, and every single day I love you more and more.
Thank you, Jacquelynn, for all of your dedication to the Lab, for your hard work, your dedication, your creativity, your intelligence and wit, and your huge, huge heart. You are such an important, vital part of BPAL, and I love you.
Thank you, Piolet, for your hard work and your strength of character. Thank you for your wisdom and your humor, your optimism, your patience, your commitment, and your friendship. I love you!
Tom, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for all of your help promoting BPAL, thank you for being my Other Voice, thank you for always being there for me, for being a true friend, for listening to my incessant kvetching, and for your huge heart and vast, boundless creativity. Thank you for lending us your talent, thank you for being my friend. I love you.
Thank you, Chrissy, for your passion and drive, your creativity and enthusiasm. I am grateful for you and for all you do, and I love you!
Thank you, Stephanie, for your incredible work ethic, your drive and your patience, and the kindness with which you treat everyone around you. You are a treasure, and I love you!
Cerina and Sabina, thank you for all of the hard work you put into helping us get through both calm work weeks and batshit crazy seasons. We couldn’t do this without you. I love you guys!
Thank you, Claire, for being Ted’s right hand woman! You are amazing. I admire your wit, compassion, and talent, and I am deeply grateful for all you do. I love you!
Thank you, Galen, for the incredible videos that you have been crafting for BPAL. You are exceptionally talented, incredibly sweet, and I love you!
Anne, thank you so much for all you do to help promote BPAL and help us at events! You are a powerhouse, and I am deeply grateful.
Lance and Alejandro! Welcome to the tribe! Thank you both so much for all you do. We are so happy to have you with us!
Thank you, Sara and Viv, for all the love and enthusiasm you put into every Lunacy. Without you, our events would be pale shadows. I love you both very, very much.
Kaitlin, you cannot imagine how grateful I am for your help and for your friendship. Thank you for putting up with our madness, our ridiculous requests, our last-minute panics. Thank you for the gift of your incredible heart, your beautiful Libra charms, and your deep compassion. I love you.
Thank you to Tom, Lisa, Maggie, Ali, Eva, Chris, Eric, Jason, Jared, Galen, Anne, and Sonya for making this year’s #carnylife possible. You were all amazing, and we are deeply grateful for your help. Thank you so much for being there for us, and for giving so much of yourselves to the events!
Thank you, Donna and Jeff, for being our bottle babysitters! You are lifesavers, and we love you so, so much!
Thank you, Em for your wise counsel, for always having my back, for always being there for me, and for always listening. I would be lost without your advice and your friendship. I love you!
Ali, you are and always will be my living Manual of Style! Thank you for unbabbling my babble, re-sensing my nonsense, and letting me bounce ideas off of you incessantly. You are an inspiration always, and I love you.
Thank you, Andra, you are a true friend, a truly amazing human being, and I love you so much!
Thank you to Sue and Del at Dark Delicacies for being such true and wonderful friends, and thank you for being the greatest grandparents a little demoness could ask for! We love you!
Thank you, Courtney and Lisa, for being our extended Lunacy family! Thank you for all the energy and love you put into every event! We are all truly grateful!
Thank you, Sean, for helping us navigate our hiccups with bpal.org. Without your efforts, the forum would have died a horrible, much-lamented death. You have no idea how grateful I am.
Thank you, Cat, for being such an amazing friend. Thank you for being my co-conspirator and confidante, thank you for your kindness. I love you!
Huge amounts of love and huge amounts of gratitude to Laura Hall and all the wonderful people at Laika studios. Your generosity and kindness is beyond measure.
Thank you to Thomas, Chandra, Melissa, Kat, and Tommy at Century Guild. I love you guys!
Thank you, Audra, for giving BPAL a home at Loved to Death! It is a delight working with you, and I am overjoyed by our partnership! Thank you!
Jess, thank you for everything! Your creativity, integrity, and compassion is a ceaseless source of inspiration. I love you!
Samantha, you are a wonderful human being, a fountain of inspiration, and I love you!
Thank you to Neil Gaiman, Guillermo Del Toro, Legendary Pictures, Jim Jarmusch, Peter Beagle, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Terry Pratchett, Terry Moore, Mike and Christine Mignola, George Perez, Peter David, Molly Crabapple, Mark Waid, Thomas Negovan, Matt Wagner, Laika Studios, Jim Henson Productions, Brian Pulido, Joseph Michael Linsner, Gris Grimly, George RR Martin, Clive Barker, Mark Miller, David Mack, Gail Potocki, and Erin Morgenstern for giving Black Phoenix the opportunity to interpret your work.
Thank you to the noble souls at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You are an inspiration.
Thank you, Charles, for being an inspiration, a true friend, and a partner in occasional French Quarter debauchery!
Thank you, CP, for being an incredible friend. Your kind soul and radiant spirit illuminates everything and everyone you touch.
Love and thanks to the artists that have lent us their talent: Julie Dillon, Drew Rausch, Aristotle Pramagioulis, Alicia Dabney, Emma Rios, Madame Talbot, Quique Alcatena, Jennifer Rodgers, Manda Lander, Emily Wernet, Eric Thurnbeck, Lily Gabrielle Hoyda, Galen Adair, Keri Newton, Robert Kraiza, Tanya Bjork, Andrew Fogel, Brian Kessinger, Abigail Larson, Aidan Casserly, and Sarah Coleman!
Love and thanks to Blood Milk, Gothic Renaissance, Ritualcravt, Think Geek, Century Guild, Loved to Death, the Mütter Museum, Haute Macabre, Heretic Salon, Pretty Indulgent, and Dark Delicacies for giving BPAL a space in your homes.
Love and thanks to the bloggers, journalists, magazines, and other media outlets that taken the time to write about Black Phoenix. Honestly, I cannot thank you enough. Without you, I’d just be screaming into the void.
Heartfelt gratitude to all of the organizations we sponsor. You are a light in the darkness, and it is our honor to support you in your work.
NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) National Center for Transgender Equality American Civil Liberties Union The National Park Foundation The National Parks Conservation Association The Trevor Project EMILY’s List Southern Poverty Law Center Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans CBLDF Orangutan Foundation Planned Parenthood UNHCR
And last but certainly not least, I’d like to thank my ancestors, the genius loci of Los Angeles, all friendly spirits that help me out here and there, all the gods (both celestial and infernal), our house ghost, the Lab poltergeist, and anyone else that might be looking out for me.
This is what I wrote last year, and it holds even truer now:
“This is a hard anniversary update to write. Every anniversary, I sum up the year and try to give thanks to everyone who enriches our lives. The latter is easy – my life is filled with the kindest, wisest, most compassionate people – but the former is stunningly difficult. 2016 has been cruel. 2016 has seen so much grief and loss, and the year has presented to us a series of breathtakingly devastating events, leaving so many in a mire of fear, uncertainty, and sorrow.
Since 2002, the community that has grown from Black Phoenix has become my family. Our beloved coworkers, our clients, the small companies that we work with, our forum moderators, the wonderful artists, writers, and creators that we are privileged to create for, our media outlets, our retailers, our extended Lunacy event family, our traveling medicine show convention family, the bloggers and journalists who think of us, and the wonderful, generous, kind people at the charitable organizations that we work with.
This is our family. You – if you are reading this – are part of our family, and I am grateful for you.
I know that it is cold comfort, but I want to tell you that we stand with you and you are not alone. We stand with the LGBTQ community, we stand with the disabled community, we stand with our brothers and sisters in every single minority religious, racial, and ethnic group. We stand with the trans community, we stand with immigrants and refugees, we stand with those who would protect our water and our land.
We stand with you against hate. We stand with you against intolerance. We stand with you, and we will do everything within our power to fight with you and for you in this dark, uncertain time. In gratitude and with love…”
Thank you. Thank you so much, everyone, for being with us for the past fifteen years. I truly hope we’ve been able to bring you as much joy as you have brought to us.
Here’s to the next fifteen years.
And without further ado, my annotated retrospective, expressed through scent: