Most of us not completely familiar with the goings-on of fan conventions and gatherings, might imagine an almost business-like encounter in which ardent enthusiasts can pose for photographs and purchase t-shirts of their favorite stars. An emotional encounter that ignites a thoughtful and passionate conversation regarding two rather sensitive and taboo subjects might be the last thing one would expect to transpire. However, that is exactly what happened last weekend between Patrick Stewart and a young fan at Comicpalooza.
During a routine question and answer session, one fan’s interaction with the Star Trek actor sparked a heartfelt response concerning a subject very close to his heart: domestic violence.
It all began when audience member Heather Skye personally thanked Stewart for a 2009 speech he gave on the issue which she said helped her through a tumultuous difficulty in her own life. Going on to ask the 72-year-old star about his personal sense of pride in non-show business related accomplishments, Skye prompted Stewart to recall vivid memories that provide motivation in his life. The X-Men star related the story of his own mother experiencing domestic abuse by his father, a veteran of World War II. The raw emotion of the situation shone through as the actor described the feelings of helplessness he remembers as well as the sadness he felt for his father who suffered from what we know now as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a severe and often debilitating anxiety disorder experienced by many returning veterans. While only referred to at the time “shell-shock,” Stewart recognizes the severity of the condition and its affect on his father’s behavior.
Appropriately enough, this fan encounter took place on Memorial Day Weekend, reinforcing a very striking component to Mr. Stewart’s speech. While steadfast in his view that violence is never the correct path, the actor movingly conveyed empathy towards his father’s dilemma as a returning veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Stewart emotionally spoke about how the debilitating disorder was what caused the veteran’s erratic behavior, suggesting that if the condition had been recognized and treated, the violence might’ve never occurred. Incidentally, June is PTSD Awareness Month which sheds a whole new light on this relevant matter.
Having not been previously aware of any personal background on Patrick Stewart, I must say that I regard the actor in an entirely new light now. Aside from his talent onstage and on screen, he obviously personifies through example the ideals in which he believes. I’m sure that Comicpalooza fan Heather Skye would agree….well done, Mr. Stewart!