I first heard about Geek Girl Con last year when Rachel Brody, a fellow geekette and follower of BGN on Twitter, contacted me and offered to do a podcast covering the event. I also invited Jaz, another BGN Twitter follower who I knew was also attending the West-coast based convention. I recorded the podcast from my location in Virginia which is why I am an advocate for online podcasting. It affords you the opportunity to record any event, anywhere in the world. Although I was not physically in Seattle, Washington where the annual convention takes place, I was able to get a great deal of insight from both Rachel and Jaz who were guests on the #BGNPodcast about Geek Girl Con. We discussed various panels, events, and the popular Dalek that strolls through the halls of the Washington State Convention Center eager to take photos with fans.
I was asked to come out the following year, and that’s exactly what I did. The stars aligned when Sarah Beck, creator of Women In Game Studies, contacted me via email and asked me to join her on a panel to discuss Feminist Community Building. I was on board immediately and was psyched that this was now the catalyst to get my butt in gear and travel to the opposite side of the country to see what this wonderful convention was all about.
It’s perhaps the best experience I’ve had at a convention.
The weather in Seattle may be a bit dreary, but the light and cheerful atmosphere of Geek Girl Con absorbs all of that notorious Seattle weather up and illuminates with color by representing such a vast array of diversity and intersectionality, that I felt like this is probably what heaven looks like. It was a warm and welcoming space for so many nerds. I even took a photo of this sign a fellow attendee held up in front of me and it was the definition of what this con was all about:
I wish this sign could be posted at EVERY convention, because God knows as Black nerds and Black Girl Nerds especially, we succumb to a great deal of judgement from many members of the nerd community because of our race and gender. I was also pleased that even in a space where it was predominately white women in attendance, it felt very welcoming and the intersectionality was there in the feminist community, which sadly isn’t always there in many white feminist spaces. I hope that next year’s event brings more Black nerds and nerds of color, I had no idea that the city of Seattle itself lacked a great deal of diversity, which can attribute to why there was a disparity among people of color. However, I hope that many blerds make the effort to travel to Seattle or local Seattle blerds take advantage of what this con has to offer, because it embraces diversity in a way that I rarely get to see in other cons.
Case in point, there was a Black Twitter panel led by Seattle Slim where she discussed the advent of various hashtags on Twitter used during live tweets and the use of AAVE by defining shows like #DatStrain for The Strain and #DemSons for Sons of Anarchy. I first noticed the these kinds of hashtags from Rodimus Prime the host of The Black Guy Who Tips podcast when he coined the term #DemThrones from the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. It was awesome seeing so many people of all different racial backgrounds ask questions and also add commentary to their thoughts about how popular and entertaining the subculture of Black Twitter has become over the last few years. The Blerd (Black nerd) community has used many of these hashtags as a way to connect with other nerds who share their interests and also understand cultural references that provides a sense of comfort like you’re live tweeting with family and friends.
I had the AMAZING opportunity to be a panelist on two panels at Geek Girl Con. The first one, was the one I mentioned earlier that Sarah had invited me to called “Feminist Community Building 101”. I was invited to another panel by Susie Rantz called “Curious About Comics, We’ve Got You Covered.” The Feminist Community Building Panel was presented by Sarah Beck, who is the creator of Women In Game Studies. I was honored to be among amazing women such as Angela Webber of the Doubleclicks, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency, Sheena McNeil of Sequential Tart, and Ashlee Blackwell of Graveyard Shift Sisters. It was a great opportunity to discuss the impact of women in geek culture and how diversity is also not just about gender, but it is also about race and sexual orientation. I also discussed how BGN started and why this space has been such a safe place on the interwebs for geek girls of color.
“The Curious About Comics, We’ve Got You Covered” panel was pretty awesome, because it allowed me to engage with con attendees who were new to comics and just getting their feet wet. I started reading comics myself at 10, but stopped reading in my teens and the large gap between now and when I stopped, makes me feel sometimes like I’m a newbie too. So it was great to be able to speak to an audience with empathy and also give them a sense of how I started back up again reading some awesome comics. I also advised that now is the perfect time to get into comics that you can self identify with. One of the comic panelists run a publishing press group focused on LGBT comics. I mentioned how I am reading Greg Pak’s Storm, and how excited that my favorite superheroine of all time finally has her own comic book! The members of that panel were Charles “Zan” Christensen of Northwest Press (@northwestpress), Kara O’Connor of WatchPlayRead (@kararobot), Sabrina Taylor a Valkyrie at the Comic Stop in the University District (@realafterglow), and was moderated by Susie Rantz who handles PR for GeekGirlCon (@susierants).
Geek Girl Con is a convention for every kind of nerd and that is what was so refreshing about this particular convention. I loved attending the Fatness and Fandom panel that talked about fat acceptance within the geek community and the lack of plus-sized cosplay attire for women and men. I have not yet cosplayed myself, but I could relate to the struggle of fighting off sizes in retail that don’t fit my body because of this irregular status quo with respect to body image. I admired seeing plus sized women love and own their image and work to form support groups to help others out there who may feel like they are alone.
You are never alone.
This is why conventions like this exist. It is to illustrate in such a magical way that you are not the only Black geek girl or queer geek girl, or fat geek girl, or disabled geek girl. There is a place for you in this community and you have friends and fellow geekettes out there who are willing to support you and tell you that you need not to fear being a member of geekdom. This community is not just for the fanboys, and it never was. Being a geek does not constitute being a specific race or gender. Being a geek does not constitute being a 20 year comic book aficionado. Being a geek does not constitute being a size 6.
Being a geek is about having a passion for a fandom and having pride in whatever that is. Whether you are a gamer, a comic book artist, a cosplayer, or a social media geek.
You can be who you are without limits.
To learn more about Geek Girl Con, go to geekgirlcon.com. The next event takes place October 10 & 11, 2015 in Seattle, WA