The first ever ClexaCon was three weeks ago (March 3-5), and I still have a lot of feelings about it. When the con was first announced, I didn’t quite know what to expect, the fact that the con was named ClexaCon made me hesitant about going. I was late to The 100, and while Lexa’s death was heartbreaking, I was never really in the fandom and sometimes fandom gets a little too intense for me. But their hopes for the con were to bring LGBTQ women together, not just Clexa Shippers, and I could get on board with that.
I’m really glad I went, because it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. It’s one thing to go to a con and meet a bunch of people who helped create a thing that you love; it’s a completely different thing when the con also has a focus on your community and representation AND you get to meet some of your online family. The con was a safe space where a lot of LGBTQ people got to be themselves, and that’s such a rare thing that it hit a lot of people, including myself, hard when it ended. If you ask someone to list LGBTQ spaces, chance are they’ll list a bar, or if they’re a student, they might name their school’s LGBTQ club. Which means that if you’re not a student and you don’t drink, you’re kind of SOL as far as a safe space goes. I mean, there is always Pride, but that comes around once a year and if you’re not into crowds, you’re not going to be comfortable. The internet is still the best place to nerd out and create your own family of people to be yourself with.
Although It’s hard to know what to expect with a first time con, I think ClexaCon was really successful and did a lot of things really well. However, there were a few things ClexaCon missed the mark on that went a little beyond normal con growing pains, like not having queue lines marked out.
Safe Space: I can’t overstate how important and rare it was to have a safe space. As I mentioned above, LGBTQ spaces that aren’t bars are really rare, but they’re so necessary. It was nice to be able to relax and be myself and kind of forget how shitty the world is for a while. It was also some of the little things, like not having to filter what I say.
Media Guests: I was really impressed by the guests, especially since they seemed just as excited to be there as the fans were. It was really awesome to get a chance to meet some of the actresses who have played my favorite queer characters. I was also extra excited to meet Emily Andras (showrunner of Wynonna Earp), Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly Earp on Wynonna Earp) and Kat Barrell (Nicole Haught on Wynonna Earp) because I had interviewed them back in June, but hadn’t gotten a chance to meet them in person.
Power of Queer Social Media Panel: One of the goals of ClexaCon was empowerment and I think the “Power of Queer Social Media” panel really helped to do that. One of the running themes of the weekend was how powerful LGBTQ fans are and how important it was that we make our voices heard. It was nice to see multiple discussions on how important our voices are, considering we are often ignored. Some of the other panels that discussed this were “Year in Review,” “Ethics in Storytelling,” and the panels on representation.
Wynonna Earp Fan Panel: The Wynonna Earp fandom is an amazing fandom (with absolutely no chill), and I was happy to see that there was a panel dedicated to creating a positive fandom family. It was also really cool that Emily Andras popped in to listen and ask how they can help fans do what they do, since the fandom got the show renewed.
“How to” panels: There were a few panels, like “Podcasting Your Passion” and “Using Youtube as a Platform” that allowed people to share how they fanperson and give a lot of tips to people interesting in starting a podcast or YouTube channel. It was nice to have those panels because a lot of the things that stop people from starting podcasts or whatnot is not knowing where to start
Letting people record the panels: I know it’s a small thing, but I love that people were encouraged to film the panels. I’ve been to cons before where we’ve been told we can’t film, and sometimes that kind of sucks because sometimes you want to see the panel again or you want other people who missed it to be able to see it.
Artists Alley: I really liked how Artist’s Alley was set up and where it was located. One bonus to the con being in the one ballroom was that everything was nearby, and it made it really easy to walk around and look at all the art. There were some really good artists and I had to stop myself from purchasing a lot of art.
Film Festival: ClexaCon held a film festival all weekend that gave people an opportunity to see some of the newer LGBTQ films that were making the rounds at film festivals. Unfortunately, because I was focused more on the panels and such, I missed out on the film festival, but I heard nothing but good things about it.
Online Family: Honestly, the thing I was most looking forward to wasn’t the media guests; it was the safe space and meeting my Twitter family. There were so many people I got to meet in person for the first time and fangirl with. It was also one of the few times where I didn’t feel awkward being on Twitter when I was out with people, because we all were.
There was a noticeable lack of trans women and women of color on panels, in addition to panels focusing on trans women and women of color.
Also, no outside food and drink were allowed, and there weren’t many options inside to purchase anything. They didn’t sell any food Friday or Sunday, only Saturday, and that made it really difficult to eat during the con. I also kind of wish alcohol wasn’t sold on the con floor; it lead to some really awkward and uncomfortable questions during the panels.
Additionally, there were several instances where the con organizers seemed to prioritize straight voices over queer ones, due to reputation. Months ago, when they were first announcing panelists, they ended up dis-inviting a queer woman who raised concerns over a straight man’s attendance at the con as a panelist. Her argument was that he uses the LGBTQ community to elevate himself instead of using his privilege to help elevate the community. Her concerns were validated when he wrote a relatively condescending review of the con a few days after it ended.
I hope that ClexaCon wasn’t a one time thing, I would love to see the con work out its kinks and continue. There’s nothing like being in a room full of LGBTQ women and allies who all share similar interests. It was a really fun weekend with some amazing people and discussions.