There was another post planned. It was discussing why MCU Captain America is the guy who has your back, and why the current Hydra agent version of Cap is so incredibly wrong. And it still may happen, because it’s still kicking around inside my head.
But then, as often can happen, something else happens that completely changes what I have planned for this blog. In this case, it was the deaths of 49 LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly people (most of whom were Latinx, which should not be forgotten) at a gay bar in Orlando, FL. Like most of us who do not identify as LGBTQ, but as allies, we find ourselves wanting to help. We want to say the right words, do the right things, say anything, do anything that will help our LGBTQ friends and family members heal. Because if we find the right words, and if we do the right things, we can make it better. And we so desperately want to make it better.
But the hard truth is that we can’t. Because there is no “better” after something of this magnitude. Just as with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the LGBTQ community will likely be changed by this. But we can help make it bearable. We can be the people who make giant angel wings to shield mourners from hate and bigotry. We can be bathroom buddies. We can be the people who say “Hey, not cool” if a coworker or a friend makes a LGBTQ-phobic remark. And we can just sit quietly and listen to our LGBTQ friends work through their grief and anger and disbelief.
I wish there were the right words and the right things to say and do. Maybe they could have been said and done before the night of June 12 so that none of this would have happened in the first place. Unfortunately, that was not the case. But we can help moving forward. We can do more than offer prayers or thoughts. We can offer actions.
And in the end, that is the best thing we can — and should — do.
No judgment. No exceptions. Geeks got your back.
Last weekend, I received a last-minute invitation to speak at a small convention aimed at girls who are into gaming. By my own admission, I do not identify as a gamer, which is a story unto itself, but I knew several of the people who were on staff, so I decided to check it out. Despite a rather unfortunate train mishap (and hooray for Himself, who fetched me from one stranded train to take me to another station to get me on my way), we made it out there on time for our panel.
For a first-year con, I was pleasantly surprised that it had garnered a nice number of attendees. I ended up with anywhere between eight and 10 people in my panel, which was great. Not only were there girls in the audience, but some guys as well as parents.
We talked about everything from tips for attendees to use to keep everyone safe, the myth that is the Fake Geek Girl, the importance of inclusiveness in the geek community, and how to raise up the next generation of geeks. One parent mentioned taking her son to Wondercon this year for the first time, for which she got a round of applause for doing geek parenting right. And of course, there were ribbons, stickers, and cards to hand out.
Everybody was extremely enthusiastic and seemed to have a great time at the panel, so I am chalking that one up as a win. Looking forward to being back next year!
P.S. Your donations help pay for those ribbons, cards, and stickers. Help us to help geeks keep each other safe.
P.P.S. If you are local to Southern California, please support Girl Gamer Gathering and help it grow in size and awesomeness!
A couple of years ago, I was honored to be included on an ad-hoc committee, including Jill Pantozzi, that was to help Pop Reed (the company that puts on many of the Comic Cons in larger cities) reword its antiharassment policy. This included the wording for the Cosplay is not Consent banners that were prominently displayed throughout the convention space.
I’ve recently had a flurry of frantic questions about a photo making the Internet rounds, showing a cosplayer posing next to what appears to be one of those banners, which states that Cosplay IS Consent. I can assure people that this was NOT the official wording for the banners. In fact, here’s a side-by-side comparison (with the cosplayer cropped out so as not to cause her any more embarrassment).
The sign on the left IS the official sign and wording that we approved for use at New York City Comic Con, and now other cons run by Pop Reed. The sign on the right is the clearly photoshopped fake one. There have been other, equally obnoxious variants of the photoshopped sign circulated around the Internet.
Just so there is no confusion…
Goodness, things are getting busy here! Not only did we add a new con to our circuit, we’re looking at adding a couple more to our roster, so it will be exciting to meet new people and talk with them about strategies to look out for each other as we embark on this new con season.
This does mean, however, that we will need to be replenishing our stock of ribbons, cards and stickers. Which means…yep, you guessed it…time for another fundraiser (we promise to try to be less annoying than those PBS pledge drives). Last year we had success with raising $500. This year, we are being somewhat more ambitious and hope to double that amount.
If you want to help out, click here to go to our fundraising site. In return, we will love you forever and bake you Schadenfreude pies. OK, maybe not the pies part…but we will love ya. Give us a little love back, yeah?
What better way to start off the new year than with getting to meet new people at a con? That’s what I’ll be doing Feb. 20-21 at the Long Beach Comic Expo, in beautiful sunny downtown Long Beach, CA. My panel will be from 3:30 to 4:30 in the Cosplay Closet (S6). See the full exciting lineup of programming here.
Look for the short chick with TARDIS blue hair carrying this box:
Back in the day, when we were first starting out the Backup Ribbon Project, we got a question from a girl who asked if the ribbons were only meant to be worn by women to protect other women. The reason she asked was because her boyfriend, who presented as very feminine, got harassed at a con and she wanted to know whether or not he qualified for backup.
We were a bit taken aback at this. Why should anybody have to jump through arbitrary hoops in order to gain protection against harassment or worse? Is there a level below which people get to just shrug their shoulders, say “Yeahhh…you look like you could take care of yourself” and walk away? The entire notion seemed ludicrous.
However, there did appear to be a faction that insisted that only women needed backup. While it is true that the majority of harassment and assault incidents at geek events will be perpetrated by men upon women, that’s not an excuse to forget about other dynamics.
I have too many LGBTQ friends who have been threatened with violence based on their sexual orientation, gender preference, or presentation to turn my back on them.
I have too many LGBTQ friends who have actually *been* victims of violence to turn my back on them.
I have too many male friends who have gotten unwanted attention from drunk women to turn my back on them.
No exceptions. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch.
I spend a great deal of time chatting up Backup Ribbon Project at con panels. Which I love doing. I get to hear your thoughts and concerns, as well as your stories, either as somebody who needed backup and got it, or as somebody assisting another con attendee in trouble. These stories remind me that all of the blood, sweat, and tears I have put into this nutty little concept are worth it.
This year, I have a new story to add. It’s pretty basic, but reminded me even more strongly of my commitment to what I do here. I was at a crowded room party at my local con when I heard my name being urgently called by somebody out in the hallway. When I went out, I found a friend of mine (who had called me out), who had another woman with her who was in need of some help from another drunk attendee. Without going into detail, my friend and I were able to get her the help she needed.
Why is this remarkable? I mean, after all, the incident that sparked Backup Ribbon Project in the first place was much more blatant. Because I had been very frustrated with the lack of effort on the part of the organization putting on the con at implementing a workable anti-harassment policy. I was all ready to simply have this be my last year there.
And then I heard my friend calling me out of a party to help provide backup. In that instant, I realized that I cannot turn my back on other attendees at this con. If I am to continue giving out ribbons and talking about providing backup, I must be willing to step up to the plate when it is my turn to help out.
In short — this nutty concept of mine passed the proof of concept test with flying colors.
I was going to start this with several paragraphs discussing the whole Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy imbroglio over this year’s Hugo awards. Those paragraphs were going to be thoughtful and insightful, with plenty of links for people to follow. I had them written, and then I stopped, looked at them, and decided instead to get right to the point:
If a con invites me to be a guest to speak about Backup Ribbon Project, anti-harassment policies, or safety at cons, it MUST have an anti-harassment policy and code of conduct that is readily accessible online (and yes, I will go looking for it).
Note that this does NOT apply to people bringing/wearing/handing out ribbons at the con. This only applies to having me as a guest at the con.
No policy? No play.
Our inbox has blown up with ribbon requests. Seriously, was somebody talking about us behind our back? Ribbons should land early next week.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! Ribbon requests are filled by the order in which they hit our inbox. However, if you want them for a specific event, please TELL US in your email, so that we can give you a fastpass to the head of the queue. Yes, that includes that little shindig taking place in Atlanta over Labor Day.
In just *48 hours*, our GoFundMe goal was met (with a bit of extra to spare)! Once again, we are amazed and proud of our geeky brethren and sistren who care enough about each other to make us all a little bit safer.
In short — Y’all ROCK!!!
*sniff* Love ya, man!