The Hobbits Are Wearing Our Merchandise!

The Hobbits Are Wearing Our Merchandise!

Cue the techno remix! 2022 was full of so many surprises for me as a content creator, but this definitely topped the list. One year ago, on September 7th, the original four Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy wore my merch and promoted it to the world. This post will recount the 15 minutes of fame I enjoyed with my friend and merch partner Don Marshall!

An Instagram Stories Post from actress Morfydd Clark, who portrays Galadriel in The Rings of Power. A zoomed in picture of a gray t-shirt with Elvish script and multi-toned Human and Elven ears is shown with the text, "You are all welcome here. Fantasy and sci-fi are for EVERYONE"

To set up this story properly, we have to rewind all the way back to February 2022, when Don Marshall (@DonMarshall72, TikTok's "Obscure Lord of the Rings Facts Guy") was temporarily banned from TikTok for being outspoken against hateful racist comments on his posts about the diverse casting of Amazon Prime's The Rings of Power television series. While the ban lasted only a day due to the outpouring of support and help from knowledgeable fellow creators on the platform, Don decided to double down on his messaging. It's been our ongoing goal to foster a welcoming space for BIPOC and queer fans of Tolkien on our corner of the Internet. With that in mind, we collaborated on a t-shirt idea that involved the following translation into Neo-Sindarin:

Sí de maedyl.

The literal translation into English is "Here/Now y'all [are] welcome." (Quick aside for my fellow language geeks: This phrase uses the Hidden Copula, thus the verb for "to be" is omitted and merely inferred from context.) We simplified this meaning to "You all are welcome here", and the shirts became available with a design depicting Human and Elven ears of various skin-tones.

But that was back in February. Over the following months, we were thrilled to see a couple actors from The Rings of Power post themselves wearing the shirts in solidarity on their Instagram Stories. The two I personally know of are Morfydd Clark and Lady Amelie Child Villiers, who play Galadriel and Young Galadriel respectively.
Actress Amelie Child-Villiers, who portrayed young Galadriel in The Rings of Power, poses for a selfie wearing a grey sweatshirt with Elvish script and Human and Elven ears in various skin-tones.

Don and I have no way of knowing for certain who it was who brought the shirts to the attention of the original Hobbits from the LotR Trilogy, but it likely made a leap from someone in the cast or crew of The Rings of Power. In any case, we were kept completely in the dark. We had no idea what was taking shape with our merchandise. The shirts had been more of a passion project; sales weren't spectacular by any metric, but we never expected them to be. It was merely a message we both wanted to plainly put out there so the fandom knew where we stood.

On September 7th, 2022, I awoke to a frantic call from Don around 9am (PST). He directed me to Instagram, where we swiftly discovered not just one but all four of the actors had posted themselves wearing our merchandise and taking a public stand to support the diversity of the fandom and the casting of newer adaptations. We saw the Instagram post from Dominic Monahan (Merry) first, followed swiftly by posts across Instagram and Twitter from Billy Boyd (Pippin), Sean Astin (Samwise), and Elijah Woods (Frodo).

The kicker was that these posts all included a link to Don's store, where the shirts were available. So not only were the actors making a public statement, but they were prompting the fandom to support the message by purchasing from us. When I say this blew our minds, it's an understatement. Don and I were so excited about the first posts we saw that we immediately went live on TikTok. In the course of Don's lunch break (he was on the East Coast), we reacted live as most of the cast from The Rings of Power reposted Dom, Billy, Sean, and Elijah's social media and the fandom exploded. News outlets picked up the story. The posts were shared across the pond in the UK, and then quickly popped up all over the world.

Over just a few hours, our t-shirts had gone globally viral. Most of the attention was placed firmly on Don, since it was his merch store, and I'm still awed by his composure as he scrambled to update the store with different products that were requested by the fandom. (We still don't know where Sean Astin got his hat from. We never had those in our store, which just shows he went the extra mile!) Don was personally mentioned in every single news article, and I was mentioned in about 50 (to my knowledge) that spanned from Insider, People, and Yahoo News UK, to websites in Japan and Malaysia.

The hype was real, and it was made even better---icing on the proverbial cake, if you will---when the official accounts for The Rings of Power then put out an official statement in solidarity with their cast members of color. They took the stance that Tolkien's world was inherently meant to be multicultural and that BIPOC in Middle-Earth had been there all along and were there to stay. Lastly, they thanked the fandom for having their backs, especially the BIPOC fans who continue to be attacked within the fandom that should be welcoming them.

Actor Sean Astin, who portrayed Samwise Gamgee in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings film trilogy, dons a white hat with the Elvish script for "You All Are Welcome Here" along with ear graphics of various skin-tones. The picture is posted on actor Billy Boyd's Instagram.

The entire experience was surreal. The shares on the original posts from Dom, Billy, Sean, and Elijah each ranged around 80,000. Sales on Don's store were astronomically higher than anything we'd experienced before. Thousands of shirts. The outpouring of support was so intense. And I'm so glad that if any silly translation of mine was going to go viral, it was this one. Because the message of #YouAllAreWelcomeHere is the foundation of what I've been striving to promote on social media as a Tolkien enthusiast.

We donated $21,000 total to the Trevor Project and the Ali Forney Center (a charity chosen by Ismail Cruz-Cordova, who plays Arondir in The Rings of Power). The portion of the profit that went to me went directly toward my top surgery as a trans-boi as well. My TikTok follower count surpassed 50k during all the madness, and I'm still working on all the translation requests this boost in visibility has brought my way here on This was truly the craziest 24 hours of 2022 for me as a content creator. Along with my San Diego Comic Con experience, it made for the most memorable year yet.

To anyone who might read this because you found me through this event: Thank you so much for being here and for supporting the push for diversity within the Tolkien fandom. There are BIPOC creators within this fandom and the sci-fi/fantasy genre at large that are awe-inspiring in their knowledge and passion for Middle-Earth and their other chosen fandoms. Please check them out on TikTok, Instagram, etc:


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