It’s been quiet on the ClexaCon front for the last couple months, but trust me that my excitement has not dimmed. Not by a long shot. Part of that may have to do with being a panelist myself (which I still can’t believe happened), but primarily it’s due to the other panelists and guests who will be there. Even a newcomer to LGBT media like me recognizes just how impressive this array of LGBT media makers and icons is.
Lexa’s ill-timed and ill-handled death sent shockwaves into the world of media analysis that the Spring Slaughter reinforced. The status of LGBT women in media has catapulted into the spotlight in an unprecedented way. Rather than allowing a group of outsiders to discuss the ripples these tragedies have caused, ClexaCon has handed over the discussion to the people most affected: LGBT women.
Chloe Tse and Ebone F. Bell will lead the discussion of the representation of queer women of color. Two queer women of color. Imagine that. Executive director of Asexuality Awareness Week Sara Beth Brooks will lead the discussion of asexual representation in media. Three trans women (Sadie Edwards, Marceline Cook, and Mey Valdivia Rude) head up the discussion of transexual representation in media and two bisexual women (Jenn Fitzpatrick and Chelsea Steiner), you guessed it, the discussion of bisexual representation in media.
More people might join the panels dedicated to representation as the months pass, but you can bet they’ll have one thing in common: they’ll be LGBT women. In fact, I get the immense honor of announcing a new panelist that will be added to the lineup! Meet Feliza Casano: the founder and editor of Girls in Capes—a website dedicated to reviewing media that features underrepresented groups in geek and pop culture—she lives at the intersection of feminism, geek culture, and the representation of women, minorities, and the LGBT community.
Her panel has yet to be announced, but I already want to be her friend and talk geeky media and representation with her. You can bet I’m going to her panel, whatever it is (unless is clashes with mine, oh man I hope it doesn’t).
So you see, unlike the Bury Your Gays (BYG) Panel at ATX Television Festival earlier this summer, these are conversations about LGBT representation led by the LGBT community. Where the hour long discussion of the BYG panel at ATX seems to have consisted mainly of the defense of the trope by television writers and producers, ClexaCon is allowing the diverse voices of LGBT women to speak for themselves about their experience and the future of female LGBT representation. These are our stories to tell, our experiences, not abstract tropes for non LGBT producers and writers to excuse away. I, for one, can’t wait to listen to all these voices (and hopefully more!) discussing something so close to my heart.
Diversity extends beyond the discussion of various aspects of LGBT representation. Queer women of color have their own panel, but are by no means absent from the rest of the panels. Since I announced the Spashley reunion, ClexaCon has announced four more guests, all women of color.
Shamim Sarif is a British lesbian author, director, and filmmaker. Her debut novel The World Unseen addressed race, gender and sexuality and has won awards for it’s film adaptation. Hanan Kattan is a Jordanian-born lesbian film producer. Together with her wife Shamim, they produced and directed a film adaptation of Sarif’s novel I Can’t Think Straight, which explores the untimely attraction between two women of disparate backgrounds and the cultural and familial clashes that ensue. The couple will be hosting a panel looking back on the production and reception of the award-winning film and will feature a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Michelle Krusiec and Lynn Chen are best known for playing lesbian lovers in the feature film Saving Face, a film that focuses on a Chinese American surgeon (played by Krusiec), her pregnant mother, and her dancer girlfriend (played by Chen). A Taiwanese American actress, Krusiec wrote, directed, and performed in a one-woman show called Made in Taiwan. She also starred in a west coast production of the Broadway show Chinglish and has played in numerous other television and film productions (I know her as Nadine Park from Fringe). Chen is a Chinese American actress known for her food blogs and podcasts. She is a well known body image activist and spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
Again, this is just the most recent batch of guests announced. ClexaCon is still six months away, there’s plenty of time for even more amazing and diverse guests to be announced. For the denizens of the internet out there who complain about queer fandoms only caring about ‘white lesbians’, ClexaCon is here to shut that complaint down. LGBT women in media includes all LGBT women in media, after all.
As a con devoted to LGBT women in media, ClexaCon will no doubt draw a unique crowd. Our fandoms might not get as much press as others, but we’re devoted. There will be attendees from every background, ethnicity, walk of life, gender, and fandom because we’re all dedicated to seeing more and better LGBT representation in media. Like the panelists and guests, the attendees will no doubt hail from more than just America. The Clexa fandom alone has official twitter accounts for Brazil, Spain, Denmark, Germany, the UK, Canada, Russia, Argentina, France, Italy, South Africa, Greece, Luxembourg, Wales, Antarctica, Vatican City, Monaco, and Portugal. And those are just the ones I could find easily.
Like LGBT women themselves, our fandoms cross international, religious, and racial boundaries. ClexaCon is bringing LGBT creators, stars, and fans together. Whether it be to celebrate, critique, or vision cast for the future, it’s a con that features diversity as part of its foundation. It’s about more than just ‘white lesbians’, its about all LGBT women, no matter your race, religion, or orientation. They’ve already brought together a diverse group of panelists and guests, and I’m confident even more will be added in the coming months.