By: Meg Humphrey and Terra Clarke Olsen
As GeekGirlCon staffers, we both wanted to share our experiences from this year’s GeekGirlCon. Please feel free to share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below!
It’s difficult to give you a play-by-play of GeekGirlCon 2013 because I missed the headlining moments. I did get to help run the Costume Contest as well as be on a wonderful Star Wars panel hosted by FANgirl’s (http://fangirlblog.com/ ) Tricia Barr, but mostly my con work kept me busy. Being full time staff at a convention usually means you have little opportunity to “enjoy” the con. You can’t leisurely look at every booth in the vendor’s hall, you can’t fill your day by checking out panels, and you probably don’t get to eat and sleep as much as you’d like to either. There’s no time to sit down and try out a new table top game, have more than a 10 minute conversation with an old friend, or make it out to the concert because you have to stay on-site. So is it worth it? Did I enjoy GeekGirlCon enough to make my year round commitment feel fair? Absolutely. I was lucky enough to have my job entail constantly monitoring panel rooms, checking in with our Agents (what GGC calls their at-con volunteers), support for panelists, and some other odds and ends. I spent the majority of the convention out on the floor interacting with people. The overall consensus was that people felt accepted, safe, and were having fun. Even when someone came to find a full room for the panel they wanted to see, they joyfully bounced over to the gaming area or headed to another room for that OTHER panel they thought about going to. I never heard anyone whispering snide comments about gender bending cosplay, but rather openly complimenting peoples’ efforts and asking for pictures. From non-GGC con staff veterans I heard things like “reminds me why I go to con” and “this is how a con should feel.” I overheard a seasoned panelists who goes all over the USA to speak at conventions say something like “this is the first time I’ve been to a convention where I could spend all day watching panels.” Ah, my eyes got misty! Now, I’m not saying GeekGirlCon is perfect or that everything went according to plan (surprise, it didn’t) – there are always improvements to be made and last minute hiccups. No convention can ever run flawlessly but I came away from GGC with a proud feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment (rather than dreading the possibility of harsh reviews and angry emails). If you want to read more about GGC’13, here are a few of my favorite articles:
http://wonderandrisk.com/youre-welcome-here-geek-girl-con-2013/ (Image of Meg taken from this article)
Like most staffers, the weekend was an entire blur. One big happy, teary eyed, blur. We work so hard to put this event on (have I mentioned we’re all volunteers?), that when it finally comes it almost seems surreal. It felt like I was holding my breath the entire time, just hoping that everything would run smoothly. Between running the Connections room, helping other departments, co-running a panel with Meg, and running my employer’s booth, the weekend was a whirlwind (I ate my fastest lunch in history on Sunday, in and out of Blue C sushi within 10 minutes). But between the running around (organized chaos of course), I had moments that reminded me why I do this. They were the kind of moments that make you pause (and perhaps cry) and remember ‘yeah, this is what it’s about.’ I met a tiny fireball known as Amy Cells who wrote her own comic book, starring the Blue Bird, which of course she cosplayed. Besides her creativity, I was struck by Cells’ confidence. Society often stifles this quality in younger ladies, so it was refreshing to meet Amy Cells and see her personality shine. Another poised young lady at the convention was of course the one and only Darth Makenna. I had the pleasure of chatting with her both days of the convention and enjoyed hearing her stories since her adventures at GeekGirlCon 2012. She has her own Facebook page where fans root her on for simply being herself- a ray of sunshine who loves Star Wars , Disney, and the color pink. Cells and Makenna give me hope. Hope that their generation won’t be tormented for being different or interested in weird things, and hope that they won’t be marginalized for being females in the geek community. GeekGirlCon encourages their confidence to shine through. For older geeks, male and female alike, GeekGirlCon offers a safe space for people to just geek out. It’s about creating an inclusive community (which happens to be the topic Meg and I discussed on our panel), so the moments that really hit home for me were hearing from all the attendees that said just that. In particular, Tina Beychok (co-founder of the Backup Ribbon Project) approached me Sunday to express how much she enjoyed mine and Meg’s panel from the previous day. That alone made me grin from ear to ear, but then I asked her how she was enjoying GeekGirlCon (it was her first time), and her answer hit me. Hit me right in the feels. She said “I’ve been involved in the geek community for 20 years, and I have never felt so welcomed and included.” Twenty years. Twenty years of trying to belong in a community, and in one short weekend that dream was realized. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.
Here are some of my favorite articles on GeekGirlCon 2013:
http://wonderandrisk.com/youre-welcome-here-geek-girl-con-2013/ (Meg has good taste!)
And for photos, check out our last post!