As a member of the press and someone who has covered ClexaCon previously, and even relatively recently, I feel I must discuss some of my thoughts about the current issues, as well as some previous issues, I am having with the convention. While I could present my thoughts through Twitter, as I have this platform I felt an article would better suit my needs. The Nerdy Girl Express is also where I have shared this coverage and including this article would allow for direct reference on the site.
On February 1st I wrote a feature focused on concerns connected to predominantly white and cis featured guests and the lack of queer representation within those guest announcements. I know that this has been discussed in the past and I am not new to this conversation. In my article I examined how the entertainment industry itself has been predominantly white and straight since Hollywood’s very inception and that this has skewed society and thus queer spaces. I critiqued the invitations of this year politely and stated that I hoped in the feature that, while I did not directly say this I meant by 2020, they would focus on promoting more trans, non-binary, queer POC, and other minority voices within the LGBTQ+ community. Recently another issue was brought to my attention, yes I do realize this issue was discussed previously and that I had my own blinders on and was not aware that the issues were as bad as they were.
Late on the night of Sunday the 10th, ClexaCon’s Twitter account released updated disability and accommodation policies that in my own opinion were terrible. As I read them I was shocked that someone had allowed them to be released and felt that whoever had written them had never worked in a field connected to accommodations. I began diving into the Twitter critiques and trying to gauge the response of other members of the community, especially those who identified as having a disability. I learned that this issue had arisen much earlier, I did know there were issues the previous year and I had hoped these would be corrected. This year it seemed odd choices were being made, including the discontinuation of specific ADA stickers for those who had filed paperwork with the convention concerning disabilities. As someone who does not have a disability I did not want to overshadow the voices who were making strong arguments on Twitter, but I instead made note of them and drafted an email.
I have been in contact with someone who I hoped would be able to get these concerns more directly to the ClexaCon directors. I have previously emailed this person with concerns, I have more than once emailed them about the lack of trans and non-binary voices and also the predominantly cis, white nature of the featured guests. I directed them to check threads and responses on Twitter on Sunday, while also doing my best to summarize the concerns I had with the new policy release as well as the concerns of those both within the disability community and outside of it. I did my best to include at least a couple of specific examples from people on Twitter who had identified as disabled and were calling out the new policy. I also included a small note about a trans panel that was not accepted and how I again felt that work needed to be done in terms of representation and the voices being showcased at the convention. The person I contacted did reply, but as they are not part of the ClexaCon board they cannot directly make changes, and said they would pass these concerns on. I continued to check Twitter and did see a drafted apology, though I saw this hours after it posted and again did what I often do on Twitter and read through the responses to see what the reaction was without responding. I am hoping that the directors work very diligently before April to correct the major missteps that they made.
The reason I wanted to discuss all of this is that I am often silent on Twitter and I did not wish this silence to be construed as acceptance. My reaction to all of the information that has come to light concerning ClexaCon is that something needs to be done to ensure this is truly an inclusive and open space. I felt that emailing, instead of adding to the Twitter conversation, would allow me to do more with the resources that I had available to me. Prior to the most recent issues I had agreed to do press coverage for ClexaCon 2019 and as this agreement was made I do have articles prepared. I have run the topics of these articles past their press person and as these articles were approved I will be going forward with posting them. While these articles will technically be promoting the convention, the goal of them is actually to highlight smaller panels, creators, and voices primarily outside of the featured guests and panels. A vast majority of my features for ClexaCon 2019 are about the film festival and webseries that will be screening there. I had reached out to webseries creators that I had either been in contact with or showcased their work previously and scheduled interviews with them. One of these interviews will coincide with a video review of the series, which is being screened at ClexaCon. I have 4 other webseries videos scheduled, all of which will be screening in the film festival and were available online already.
There is also an article showcasing some podcasts being recorded at the convention this year and this does include mentions of the official podcast UnCONventional. I have one feature dedicated to Sapphire Books and Ylva Publishing, both lesbian publishers I have highlighted previously who are noted on the sponsor and partner page, and I do have two TelloFilms based articles because I happened to watch Alice and Iza as well as Nikki and Nora. There is a feature on the new Creator and Academic Labs, that I had guaranteed would be released and an interview with the two directors, which was completed via email and sent back to me earlier this month. The release of this interview had been prescheduled for release later in March. I have also written a feature to release the week of the convention with things I am looking forward to taking part in while at the convention, one of these is a featured panel (Hollstein), but the rest of the article focuses on smaller elements and taking time to actually rest during the weekend, since I was very high stress last convention.
I also have two articles that in my opinion are a bit fluffy. One is on travel tips for leaving the venue and the other is focused on dealing with post con blues and con crud. I do mention the ClexaCon YouTube channel and mention that as a source for seeing panels from the convention and previous conventions. There is also an article planned for a vendors highlight to showcase some of the creators who will be on the floor. I will also be publishing articles the days of the convention, including Thursday, that will break down some events and press coverage that will be happening at the convention and on The Nerdy Girl Express Twitter account.
I wanted to make our readers aware of what had already been scheduled and what would be appearing in connection to ClexaCon 2019 going forward. I will continue to monitor Twitter specifically in connection with the convention this year and as Krista, my girlfriend, and I had already planned and paid for our weekend at ClexaCon we will still be attending. We have discussed it and based on how the convention goes this year and how the directors and their team evolve the convention going forward we will revisit whether we will be attending again in coming years. After meeting there in 2017 we had planned our 2018 and 2019 trips together and as a couple made decisions, which is why I mention her involvement. This year I want to do my best to highlight people who will be at the convention who are not big names because I assume that they had hoped that ClexaCon would help them to promote and grow their projects.
If there are elements that you would like me to cover or discuss in more detail or if you would like to share your own concerns please feel free to comment on this article, tweet me @kleffnotes, or if you would prefer to remain less visible you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Following the publication of this article I did receive some additional information that has shown me that the ClexaCon team is already working diligently to correct and improve their disability policy. I was also informed that all submitted panels must fit specific requirements in order to be approved. I would also like to note that the panel list online is currently in a constant state of updating. I do believe ClexaCon is working to improve and I have been informed they do want to ensure the convention is inclusive and open to all. I am optimistic and am hopeful for the future of ClexaCon. Added 9:02 pm EST 2/12/2019.