Last year I declared Geek Girl Con my ideal convention experience. It came at the right time, a hard time, and it was a huge, necessary step in deciding how I want to live my life. I’m pleased to report that this year that holds true despite some absolutely incredible convention experiences.
Geek Girl Con is a convention that is at heart about bringing together marginalized voices. It’s not really a big wonder why I care so much about that, being an editor for this site as I am. That attitude permeated every panel I attended, but it also carried through in little things, like the impromptu get-together Jazzlyn Stone hosted Friday night, part friendly hangout and part goal-setting, emotional-wall-shattering group therapy experience. Oh, she’s also responsible for that incredible WicDiv party last ECCC.
It doesn’t really carry through in my public persona, I don’t think, but I very often feel unequipped for the role I’ve come to inhabit, or undeserving perhaps. There’s a complex combination of reasons for those feelings, from general imposter feelings that plague many trans women to the idea that I’m still not really sure why everyone thinks I can do this. That’s hard to say out loud (or write in text), both because it makes me feel vulnerable and because it feels like some sort of weird humblebrag. The truth is, I have great friends. I have a great support network of people who tell me they believe in me, people who care about me and genuinely think that I’m qualified to be doing what I’m doing. That feels great! It’s just…you know, I can’t really quantify what it is I’m doing that causes them to believe that.
I don’t want to really drag this into a personal therapy moment, so I won’t delve deeper than that, but I will say that things like Jazzlyn’s get-together feel…special. It felt special to sit in a room with other marginalized people carrying goals into 2020 and working on plans of action to bring those goals into being. It’s the exact balm I need for those moments of insecurity, and once again Geek Girl Con has come through for me in that way; bringing attendees from all over to Seattle, to that room for that meeting. It felt powerful, like a spell.
I treasure my friendships, and from that night to the end of Sunday, that’s what GGC felt like; a gathering of friends. There was no Bleating Heart press table this year, and a generally smaller presence of WWAC contributors but I felt no less accepted as we wandered through the aisles. Once I again I felt in my element, like I belonged. I can’t describe how important that affirmation is to me.
I did attend more panels this year than last—the first, on Saturday, was an hour-and-a-half long panel about Research and Data Science in Fandom, and it was fascinating. It was a big panel group, with the hosts of the Fansplaining podcast, a group of data researchers from the University of Washington, Destination Toast, and Franzeska Dickson. It was honestly incredible, and the sheer amount of information they had to display about the various fanfic platforms and what they’re used for is something I actually have an interest in really diving into now. What if I started studying data visualization?
The next panel was entitled Creative and Chronic Life, and was ostensibly about the relationship between those. Unfortunately, it proved to be about eighty percent panelists describing the ways they cope with their disabilities and only about twenty percent coverage of being creative within the scope of that. I don’t really want to denigrate the topic, because I think many of the things they talked about are important to discuss, but…say that. Make that the focus of the panel! It was disappointing to sit in on a panel hoping to hear some tips for combating my own issues when trying to be creative and to not really get that at all.
On Sunday, there were a couple of great panels; the first, about geek fashion, explored the ways that women have found to engage with fashion and fandom—not just in terms of branded apparel and accessories, but also in terms of stealth cosplay and the concept of “disneybounding,” a term I had heard before but had no idea the meaning of until this panel. Essentially, Disney parks prohibit dressing in costume for adults, and with good reason; given the mascots everywhere, it could lead to quite a lot of confusion. So, people who want to dress as their favorite characters have instead found ways to emulate iconic looks without actually wearing a full costume. It’s a fascinating thing to me, the way that fans have found to celebrate the characters they love without breaking Disney’s theme park rules (and thus being removed from the park).
After that was a panel that I had wanted to attend the previous day, but it conflicted with one of the others: Wellness For Geeks Who Sit. This panel, hosted by Robyn Warren of Geek Girl Strong, went over a series of exercises that are specifically designed to be done sitting in a chair. Warren has experience as a PE Teacher and a personal trainer, and so has put the work and the learning in to provide really great tips on ways to stretch and work some of the muscle groups that are most tasked by a sedentary lifestyle. I know I really appreciated it, and I plan on kicking a few bucks over to the Geek Girl Strong Patreon in order to keep up on the workouts provided.
Overall, I really felt like I came away from this weekend…edified. I was buoyed up, I learned things, I came away with plans and goals that I’m already putting tangible work into going forward, despite…a minor setback. Here’s to a better—and more hydrated—2020.