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Many of you who follow RVL will be well aware of the problems that the Vampire, Therian and Otherkin communities in and around Chicago have been dealing with most recently, problems that were highlighted in our reports “A flamin’ good flipper & A new dance in Chicago” and the subsequent VVC issued Global Community Warning which ultimately led to the issuing of a declaration of persona non grata .
In the wake of those developments a new initiative was born in the windy city, an organisation that aims to bring a hitherto unseen, and unrealised, joint communities effort to ensure that Chicago is a haven for nightkind from all paths.
The Greater Chicagoland Vampire Coalition is aimed at drawing together the independents, houses and groups that have long existed in the area but have, historically, eschewed formal organisation.
As a committed supporter of the initiative we thought we would get the lowdown on the new body which held its first, official, meeting on the evening of April 29th.
It gives us the greatest pleasure to welcome to RVL this evening GCVC Co-founder and CEO Derek Lestat
RVL: Good evening and thank you very much for joining us today.
DL: Thank you for this opportunity.
RVL: The first question, I guess, would have to be why? Why after so many years of small, secluded, underground groups and meetups, was it see as necessary to bring everyone together under the Coalition?
DL: Because small and secluded little groups appear to be going nowhere fast; it’s stagnation. Think of this from the point of view of someone Newly Awakened. You’re going to look for something or someone where you can learn more about yourself, find others like yourself. Sure, there may be something “out there”, but it’s so far underground that you can’t find it, if it’s even there at all. Or it could be not what you’re looking for at all, maybe even something potentially dangerous.
We are coming together as a resource for those Newly Awakeneds who can’t find what they’re searching for. We’re here for the Elders, the so-called Ronin Vampires. We’re here to unite Chicago’s Vampire Community, and to place Chicago where we belong on the map right alongside New Orleans, Houston, Georgia, and all of the rest.
RVL: …and how long have you, personally, been a part of the modern Vampire culture?
DL: About two decades, Awakened. Prior to that, I couldn’t even say.
RVL: What’s the main aim of the Coalition at this point?
DL: Bringing together the Vampires of Chicago, the stragglers, the Newbies, the Meet-Up groups, the Ronin, anyone who has already worked at establishing something, they can all find unity with us.
We aim to unify Chicago, and to cast us in a positive public image.
We want to bring everyone together under one banner of legitimacy, to be a mentoring resource to those who need it; in unity there is strength.
RVL: …and how many groups or organisations, aside from us at RVL, are represented in the coalition at this time?
DL: Chicago is representing ourselves. We are autonomous. We are, however, affiliating with a significant number of the major Houses and Clans, such as those from Houston, Georgia, New Orleans, New Jersey, upstate New York, Alberta CA, with more coming. Right now we’re building our own base for the City and suburbs, and from there we aim to expand to include neighbouring states in the Midwest and around Lake Michigan area.
RVL: Operationally, how will the coalition work? Will it be, for instance, somewhat along the model of the renowned Dark Nations or do you see a different operational method?
DL: We are currently still forming our structure. We have our core assembled, our Council of Five. As we grow, we’ll be delegating more positions within our group.
In-person Meet-Ups will play an important part. The act of simply getting together in person, meeting up and talking, getting to know one another, that will go a long way in growing this group into something substantial.
RVL: Would it be fair to say then, that each group, House or Order represented will have a say, or a “voting” right in the organisation?
DL: Of course. We’re not a medieval feudal system or political body. Everyone has opinions and points of view, and all are valid and should be voiced.
RVL: Traditionally the Vampire communities of Chicago have been reticent to come out, do you think that this coalition will change that?
DL: Realistically speaking, I think it will for some. Others, well, some will likely wish to remain shadowed by their own choice. The invitation is out there regardless.
RVL: …and if we might go all “crystal ball” for a moment, what do you envision, down the road, for the Coalition as far as activities and community involvement might go?
DL: I’m envisioning quite a lot. If we go by the examples preceding us, we can have opportunities to give to the secular community. We can organize drives to feed and clothe the homeless. We can host events, including Halloween parties, fundraisers, perhaps even conventions and balls; there shouldn’t be any limits on what we can accomplish. Not to mention events already established within the City that we can participate in, make our presence known, and bolster our public image.
The possibilities are endless.
RVL: Was there an actual inspiration for the Coalition or is this something that you think there has been a need for here for a long time?
DL: There has long been a need for this. For decades, whatever “scene” there has been in Chicago has either been so far underground as to be virtually undetectable, or it’s been non-existent. This creates a vacuum. And as we all know, Nature abhors a vacuum.
As many are aware, someone else thought they could come in unwanted and dictate to us what’s what. Although mercifully short-lived, this so-called “court” was not organized, and apparently set up as an exercise in spite. This is not what Chicago and the Vampire Community needs. We aim to fill this vacuum, and prevent any such future occurrences.
There are also, of course, individuals and groups that represent themselves as “vampires”, and really have nothing to do with the Real Vampire Community. Sometimes this can present a danger to those seeking something different than what those groups/individuals are offering. This can be anything from simply being misleading to outright dangerous. Our aim to establish legitimacy for Chicago’s various vampire organizations should help to differentiate the honest-to-goodness real vampires and affiliates from those who could be potentially harmful, especially to the youth.
RVL: There has been a lot of growth around the concept of unity in the culture over the last couple of years, did this have any bearing on the developmental stages of the Coalition concept?
DL: Right now, our aim is to unify Chicago first, to take care of our own backyard, so to speak. After that then we can shift our focus to the greater Community. “Walk before you run”, so to speak.
RVL: …and of course, not too long ago we saw the arrival, suddenly, in Chicago of a Vampire court which is now defunct… what’s your feeling about the concept of unity in the modern culture?
DL: Myself, personally, I think total Unity for the VC is, of course, not a bad idea, but the logistics would be a nightmare. The main thing, I think, would be trying to work every diverse group under the same banner while maintaining their own individuality and belief systems; not every group in the VC holds to the same definitions or hierarchies, for example, or sometimes what even constitutes a “vampire”. And let’s not even touch on the easily-bruised egos within the Community. Plus, there will always be the “scoundrels” or the “trouble-makers” who pop up. That can cause division from within such a unified structure, as some will say to shun them, others will say they have no personal beef with them, while still others won’t give a damn either way.
Not that it isn’t a noble and worthwhile venture, but if it was so easily workable, would it not have been achieved by now?
RVL: …but are we going to see, in your opinion, a “court” or “king/queen” emerge from the coalition?
DL: In the GCVC, no. We’re not a Court, a Clan, a Coven, or a House. We’re not a monarchy, feudal or political system. We’re a gathering of like-minded individuals.
Yes, leadership is a necessity, but we’re not looking to be a “my way or the highway” organization. Everyone has a valid voice, opinion, and point of view, and all are of equal importance. Should something arise that’s in need of a decision or a vote, we’ve founded our Council of Five. This consists of an odd number so as to avoid any chance of a tie vote, and we’ve arrived at a count of five rather than three because five offers a greater range of viewpoints without being overwhelming.
RVL: So, what would you like to say to any folks in Chicagoland that may be reading this and are keeping themselves out of the “run-of-the-mill” communities?
DL: Without trying to sound overly cliché: “Come out, come out, wherever you are”.
No, seriously, do come out. Make yourselves known to us. Introduce yourselves to us. We can’t really go stalking around the City and Suburbs carrying membership pamphlets, looking for you. If you’re able to pick up Chicago-based radio stations in your car, contact us. We have a Facebook page and a Facebook group , and email contact can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We plan to have more presence on social media as we go along. In fact, we are interested in others within the Chicago Communities who would wish to join us in filling various positions within the Coalition. The more we grow, the better we’ll be able to serve the Community.
RVL: Thank you very much, Derek, for the insight into this important move today, we are sure that it is both a much needed and very welcome infusion for Chicagoland Nightkind, and thank you for giving us a little of your time to introduce The Coalition.
DL: Thank you for this opportunity, and I hope as the GCVC grows, that this won’t be our last interview together.
Chicago, indeed Illinois, it must be said, has never really been a renowned centre of modern Vampire activity or presence even though it is (as of 2017) the 3rd largest city by population in the United States  we may wonder why? We may have our own theories as to why but the fact is that now there is a hub, a growing hub, which has received a great response from across the board.
The focus of the Coalition is, naturally, to work within the greater Chicagoland area but in doing so, as our guest said, to forge links with bodies across the country. Naturally this will bring Chicago “online” in the modern real Vampire culture in a way that it has never been before. It’s a very exciting time in The Windy City and it’s only going to get better as the GCVC grows.
Copyright RVL & The GCVC 2018
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