Con Diary: Geek Girl Con

This year, I’ve been … developing some feelings about conventions. Working through some thoughts about what they mean to me. It’s been a fun exercise; I’ve gotten to go to three this year, two of them brand new ones for me. With each, I’ve been able to clarify what it is I want out of each con experience, and after this weekend I can confidently state that Geek Girl Con is my ideal.

Geek Girl Con, or GGC, is the shortest convention I attended this year, at only two days (compared with Emerald City Comic Con’s four days or Rose City Comic Con’s three). It takes place in the same building as ECCC, but occupies only a fraction of that space. Attendance is proportionally lower as well and that is … not a detraction. There’s space to move! It’s possible to stop at tables and chat with creators without feeling like you’re holding up a sea of people! You can move in groups with your friends, even!

That last point is important; it’s part of what made the con for me. I live far enough away from Seattle that it was more convenient to drive up and stay with friends and fellow WWAC contributors, Melissa Brinks and Joesph Langdon (as well as Josh, who is Missy’s husband and also a friend, but not a contributor. Distinctions abound). Anyway, all of this is the excuse I gave so that I could visit Fritz.

Fritz during a rare break from snacking on Nola.

Fritz once ate my face. When he wasn’t chewing on that bone this weekend, he was attempting to repeat the experience of chewing on me. He’s a good boy and I love him.

Oh right, I’m supposed to be talking about conventions. Friends really are an important part of them, though, for me. Friends create comfort, they provide support, they make true self-expression possible. When we got to the convention on Saturday, we met up with more of them; former WWAC editor Amanda Vail was tabling for Bleating Heart Press, and joined there by Kate Tanski and Alenka Figa. We were also there with Merri, Missy’s partner in crime over at the Fake Geek Girls podcast, and Paulina Przystupa was running around as well! This sounds like a lot of name-dropping, but I promise I’m driving to a point here.

As a trans woman and an abuse survivor, I struggle with self-expression. I struggle with living unapologetically, even when I’m living authentically, because every moment of that living feels as though it must be clawed for, must be made an imposition. Make no mistake; it is—to live as a trans woman is itself an act of defiance and resistance, because there are always, always, those who attempt to take away my rights and my freedoms. It’s one of the reasons that I treasure the WWAC community; because they have worked hard to create a space where I am welcomed for who I am. Melissa’s house is another such space, and this too is how the floor of Geek Girl Con felt.

Crossing those doors was a joyous, freeing act; I was in a space where I was protected, free to be myself, free to laugh and see exciting things and share that excitement. This past weekend was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt that outside of a private home. As fun as other cons are, they don’t come close to the feeling GGC gave me. For the first time, my existence in public did not feel like an imposition; it felt as though I was where I belonged. I named those names above because they were all instrumental to that feeling.

I sat for two panels; I won’t lie or pretend that I was not extremely partisan in my selection. The first was a shared panel featuring WWAC and Black Nerd Problems, discussing the various aspects of content creation; what each of our sites look for in a prospective writer, and what we can offer that writer in return. The second panel was for the Fake Geek Girls podcast, and they did a live Let’s Play of Night In the Woods. Because I am a “good” friend, I sat in the front row for maximum heckling opportunities.

That’s an important thing to remember about GGC: it’s not a comic convention. There are comics there, sure, but there are also zines, and video games, and clothes, and novels, and other forms of art, because at its core Geek Girl Con is about the expression of feminine, nonbinary, and trans identities. The space itself is an imposition in a patriarchal, heteronormative society, and doubly so within geek cultures. It’s funny; I’m always hesitant to use the word “geek” to define myself because these terms can carry such baggage. But this convention bestows a joy on those interests, on the shared community that can be found within them, and that has a power that is as affirmative as it is undeniable.

GGC changed me, in a way. As I walked the show floor, I found myself reflecting on the things, the people, and the causes that were important to me. I found myself considering how I prioritize those things (or fail to do so). The last two years have been hard, they’ve been hard for all of us, and I worry that they will continue to be. It feels like I’ve been trapped in a rebounding cycle, bouncing from stimulus to stimulus, reacting and responding, with no focus or clear direction. The adjustment of transitioning in public, the various traumas of my childhood home resurging to open fresh wounds, the constant stream of dire news from every angle. All of these things have been building and building, and I won’t deny that prior to this weekend I was in a very dark place. Geek Girl Con, and the friends who were there with me, reminded me that resistance and imposition itself can be a joyous act. I’ll be forever grateful for that experience.

Nola Pfau

Nola Pfau

Nola is a bad influence. She can be found on twitter at @nolapfau, where she's usually making bad (really, absolutely terrible) jokes and occasionally sharing adorable pictures of her dog.