Open Minds & Open Hearts: GeekGirlCon 2016

A week late and a dollar short, but life has finally settled enough to allow a few moments to talk about GeekGirlCon. (YMMV)

GeekGirlCon first opened its doors in October of 2011, a celebration of the female geek, of all geeks, really.  It started small, and has grown steadily since, moving from the Seattle Center and EMP to the Washington State Conference Center.  This year they expanded the dealers' room, allowing for nearly twice as many dealers and exhibitors.  There were multiple panel tracks, and a kickin' DIY science area (honest, you have to see the science area).  For four of the last six years, we've packed teh Dragon's Hoard Games into tiny little boxes and carted it to the convention for the weekend.  While this isn't a convention solely for women, my rockin' mother-in-law and I have claimed it as our own, so we work both days.

Dragon's Hoard Games
Dragon's Hoard Games
The gang's all here!
The gang's all here!

GeekGirlCon is smaller and far more accessible than any other convention in the Pacific Northwest.  By accessible, I mean both physically and emotionally.  The staff and crowds are wonderfully diverse.  I mean it.  There are no big flags and whistles, but here is a convention where people can dress as they please, cosplay as they please, and folks don't give them a hard time.  I've heard transgendered attendees talking about how strange and wonderful to feel so safe at a convention.  Other attendees recognize that individuals with mobility issues aren't out to ruin the convention just because they take longer to get into the elevator.

This positive convention experience extends towards costuming.  No one tells costumers they're too fat, too thin, the wrong color, the wrong gender, wearing the wrong thing, didn't spend enough money, spent too much money.

The X-Women!
The X-Women!
The X-WOMEN!
The X-Women!
STEVEN UNIVERSE COSPLAY
STEVEN UNIVERSE COSPLAY

I didn't get near as many pictures as I might have liked, but I did my best to catch the folks that came by the table.

More than pretty faces.
More than pretty faces.
Doctor Facilier looking for a Frog Princess.
Doctor Facilier looking for a Frog Princess.  I wish you could see the costume detail!
A love affair that can never be.
A love affair that can never be.
'Nuff said.
'Nuff said.
Order up!
Order up!
All cardboard, though only the front of the armor. Yes, there is a man in there. Yes, he did walk around.
All cardboard, though only the front of the armor. Yes, there is a man in there. Yes, he did walk around.

Best of all were the kids!  Many were in costume, but an equal number came as themselves whether that was wearing a yellow sun-dress and bright green nail polish, or a plaid shirt and blue nail polish, or a leather jacket and plaid skirt.

"It's my SAMUS suit!" - 8 year old girl
"It's my SAMUS suit!" - 8 year old girl
Two sisters rocking Zelda
Two sisters rocking Zelda
Batman!
"I'm not Batgirl.  I'm Batman!"
Silver Surfer!
"Mom let me be Silver Surfer because I think he's cool!"
Stormtrooper!
"She made the costume herself," said her dad.  Rock on, little stormtrooper.

On the down side, I spent so much time at the store table that I didn't get to many of the panels I hoped to see.  I did catch one on LGBTQA representation and intersectionality in genre fiction, and one about David Bowie's influence on SF/F.  Friends reported back on panels about women scientists, mold making, and imposter syndrome.

There were as many men cosplaying female characters as there were women cosplaying male characters.  To the best of my knowledge, every conference room and panel was open and accessible (though parking was horrendous, and it may have been difficult to get from the garages into the center).  There weren't as many people of color as I hoped, but certainly more than the other comparatively lily-white conventions in the area.  No one flinched or looked confused when anyone said "My preferred pronoun is. . ."  Panels addressed gender, ability, representation, mental health, costuming, and media.

Last weekend, I didn't have to lie about my preferences or gender for the sake of others' comfort.  I didn't have to tell anyone off for being an insensitive ass towards another person.  I could be myself, even when that meant sobbing in a bathroom stall because I couldn't face the crush of people.  A convention volunteer knocked politely on the door and asked how she could help, what could she do to make me feel safe.  Outside of my husband, no one has ever done that for me at a convention before.  (I don't do well in crowds and conventions are no exception.  Please don't compliment me on how well I'm holding up during a convention; you have no idea the cost.)

Not for the first time, but perhaps the most emphatic time, I realized that GeekGirlCon is me.

Rocking these salty parabolas.
Rocking these salty parabolas.
Two steam punks if I ever saw them!
Two steam punks if I ever saw them!

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