Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender: #14
Sign #14: You sit as the moderator on a “What is Genderqueer?” panel… in a QUILTBAG convention you yourself organize.
(AKA Signs You’re Not Cis-Gender: The RainbowCon 2015 Edition)
So, this edition of Signs comes after a few weeks of silence because my life was utterly consumed by RainbowCon. For those not in the know, RainbowCon (aka the Rainbow Conference) is a convention that I organize with my partner and her husband. It’s a QUILTBAG (look up the acronym if you don’t know it ^_-) multimedia convention, so it’s all about celebrating artistic diversity in fiction, television, movies, theatre, comics (web and print), embracing fandom throughout all kinds of media. We held our second RainbowCon July 16th through 19th this last month. The 2014 con was all about fiction, but we expanded the content to embrace all media for 2015, and it was a great con!
It’s also a labor of love. It takes more time, effort, and money than anyone realizes to run a convention, especially one where we lowered the price of admission expecting three times the attendees we actually got. >.> Just saying. Regardless of attendance, though, I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week. And we had some fantastic authors and great readers/reviewers and guests at RainbowCon this year. I was incredibly excited about the event, even if it pushed my to the breaking point. Worth it? Oh, definitely!
But, to the point, nothing says non-cis-gender like being a panelist on an educational panel dedicated to the topic of genderqueer, genderfluid, and transgender individuals. I was in great company, too, with authors Tempeste O’Riley, Rory Ni Coileain, and Lloyd A. Meeker. Tempeste identifies genderfluid, Rory has been on a journey through examining her gender and sexuality this last year, and Lloyd, while not genderqueer himself, is a gay man who has been in a position to read and grade high school essays on gender. As such, Lloyd’s seen a distinct change in the youth of today in that their views of gender and sexuality are expanding and far more accepting than he’s ever seen in the past. He brought such a hopeful tilt to the panel as we all shared our experiences and looked to the future for individuals who identify as we do. The younger generations are carving the way for a much brighter future, I think, and it was great to have him share some of the things he’s read from students these days. That’s definitely a populace that I’m disconnected from now that I’m out of college. *laughs*
But the panel itself was wonderful, as were several of the other panels that I spoke on at RainbowCon between “running” around as an organizer to put out fires, help people find their way around the con space, and ensure the hotel staff was on their jobs throughout the four-day event. The fires were few, people were awesome (we had fantastic volunteers helping me out ^_^), and the hotel staff needed very little help due to the preparation I had done with the staff before the conference itself. It was… awesome. A huge improvement from last year, even if we didn’t boast the attendee numbers we were hoping for.
Here are the panels I sat on and a bit about each one:
- Queering Middle-Earth — Because I’m an ardent Tolkien fan. To the point that I wrote the Tolkien Trivia for the con… though no one showed up to that activity (which made me sad, though it had plenty of awesome competition panel-wise for that hour, so I don’t blame anyone). My fannish focus in Tolkien’s world is on the Elves, especially the Elves of the First Age. My co-author S.L. Armstrong and I occasionally run the podcast Crystal Clear Tolkien, where we look into all the Tolkien canon available to answer people’s questions about the world and languages. Yep. Super-fan here. Unashamed.
- Anthro Sex — You heard that right. An entire panel about anthropomorphic characters in sexual situations. Much fun was had by me and my fellow panelists, Lexi Ander and Sui Lynn. We discussed the differences between shifter, anthro, and furry in fiction and other media (paranormal characters definitely make an appearance in their fair share of television and movies, after all), and it was decided that I should do voice-over work, since we went on a tangent into the anime/hentai background for some anthro characters more in the tentacle/monster sub-sect. We may have frightened a few audience members. Again, unashamed.
- Shifter Sex — Much like the previous panel, we discussed the definitions and details that separate shifters from furries, but this panel went into the questions “How far shifted is too far shifted during sex?” (it’s very individualistic) and “How come shifters get away with rape all the time and why do we excuse the behavior?” (the Alpha-male, life-bonded mates, and “feral instincts” tropes are alive and still well-used, and they lull a lot of readers into suspending disbelief). It was a great panel that covered the bases, and while it had a fiction tilt, much of the content could cross over into other media depictions of shifters.
- What is Genderqueer? — As I mentioned, this panel was fantastic in that it covered a few different perspectives on the genderqueer and genderfluid labels. Tempeste O’Riley had a lot of experience both from her own life and seeing her child grow up with an amazing perspective on gender and spreading it in his own circle of influence. Rory Ni Coileain has confronted a lot of inner demons and past traumas to look critically at her own gender identity and sexuality, and has currently come to identify as a flavor of asexual, which was incredible to hear about. And Lloyd A. Meeker had that awesome perspective as an educator/writer and reading all those high school essays. This panel was FULL of information!
- When Poly Would Have Solved Everything — Panelists Gryvon/Jenna Hale, Princess S.O., and Sloan Johnson made this panel a barrel of laughs. I was “moderating”, but really, it became a panel full of us naming instances in pop culture where we were sorely disappointed that polyamory wasn’t an option to solve the silly love triangle tropes dropped EVERYWHERE nowadays. It was also our opportunity to shamelessly pimp our fiction in which polyamory is employed, both to solve problems and introduce new dynamics in the relationships that can add exciting drama. I’ll admit, I used it to shamelessly plug Immortal Symphony: Overture, because really, how could Dorian Gray be anything but polyamorous as the immortal hedonist he is? ^_^
I also ran the Cookie Decorating activity (with iced cookies shaped like hearts, rainbows, and puzzle pieces), the Rainbow Pendant Making activity (glass pieces + nail polish + metal bezels = endless possibilities), and the Masquerade Mask Making activity (feathers, plastic jewels, pearls, butterflies, and puff paints for pre-cut masks!). I did manage to set up a table for KS Charms and Storm Moon Press, so there was a little bit of selling of my personal wares… but I have to say, the best part of the event for me was the “It’s a Drag” Dinner & Drag Show, which featured performances by Mr. & Ms. St. Pete Pride, Aaron Phoenix and Stephanie Stuart. The two of them were AMAZING trans* drag performers, but I’ll save more about them for another blog post. If you missed RainbowCon this year, don’t worry! We’ll be back having our third con in 2017!
Needless to say, if you find yourself being a panelist on a genderqueer panel at a convention? Yup. You’re probably not cis-gender… or you’re at least a very open-minded individual. Go you!