June 12, 2016. I have yet to write about it’s impact on me. Nearly two months have passed, and I am still coming to grips with what happened, but I was not directly impacted by it. I did not lose any friends or colleagues. I don’t live in South Downtown. I haven’t been to a club in years. Yet, this still happened in my backyard. Orlando is my home. It is colorful, diverse, fun loving, and beautiful, and someone dared to stomp all over our garden. You might have noticed that I am using the rainbow GeekyCon logo which I found on their Facebook page because GeekyCon is about love, pride and embracing who you are through fandom. I am a straight ally, and I choose love because love is love is love.
TRIGGER WARNING! The following may not be for everyone. I am certain that some readers may leave and that is fine. I do kindly request that if you have nothing positive to contribute that you keep them to yourself. If you choose to unfollow me, that is fine. I don’t need to hear about it. Go quietly and gracefully. Thank you.
To help raise money for the Zebra Coalition in GeekyCon 2016 is sponsoring a t-shirt with a rainbow of hearts. One of the pillars of GeekyCon is celebration of love and pride, so I am so thankful they are giving back to the local community. Shirts are $20 and the proceeds will go into the local Orlando LBGTQ+ community through ZC.
One Heart. One Pulse. by local artist, Alexa Rae Vitug. I love it so much.
Conversations About Community
There are so many wonderful panels at GeekyCon, and I hope that attendees and panelists will dig deep and have the meaningful conversations some people in the community are afraid to have. Nerds. Geeks. Fans. Dorks. It doesn’t matter what your designation is or how you identify, we need to work at putting the UNITY in commUNITY. Even as children and teenagers, you have the ability to think about the world you want to be a part of in the future. As adults, we have a responsibility to set the example and the power to legitimately bring about change. Discussions about sexuality, acceptance, understanding, race, religion, and how it impacts each of us individually is one of the main drawing points for me choosing to go to GeekCon. Some of the outstanding panels include:
- Creating Safe Spaces
- Engaging in Positive Fandom
- Wizard Activist Meetup
- LGBTQIA+ Meetup
- What’s Mine is NOT Yours
- Transfiguring Safe Spaces
- Queer Eye for the Maji (Season 3)
- Race in the Wizarding World
- Body Image & Way-Too-Conscious Culture Panel
- Where is my Black Widow Movie?
- “Bury Your Gays!” We’re Here, We’re Queer, Stop Killing Us on TV
- Anxiety, Depression & A Drug Called Fandom
- Harry Potter is Gay
- Cripples, Bastards, & Broken Things: Examining the Lack of Disabled Characters in Increasingly Diversified Media
If you have questions, this would be the forum to ask them. The topics are sensitive, so be mindful of your phrasing and word choice. “May I ask a question…” or “Would you help me understand…” are two fantastic segues when trying to inform others of your interest as well as trepidation and concern over saying “the wrong thing.” The premise of GeekyCon is a true fan convention at heart: welcoming to all. Think back to Lord of the Rings: “Speak ‘Friend’ and Enter.” Practice your Quenya (Elven language) and get ready to engage others in powerful conversations. These panels are designed to welcome everyone and are intended to drop some knowledge. I challenge everyone to attend at least one panel that will have social impact on you or inspire you to help improve our world.
I love my City Beautiful because it is diverse and wonderful!
A wonderful organization contributing to the cultivation of fandom with greater purpose is the Harry Potter Alliance. At ALA, I became a Wizard Activist. I signed up with the Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. Chapter. Listening to all the wonderful ways this international organization helps make the world a better place really got my brain running overtime. Two of their current campaigns include:
- Protego! – I have dear friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ Community and I firmly believe that everyone has the right to happy and healthy. I was able to write a postcard to the governor asking for him to repeal HB2 which prevents transgender people from using the bathroom they prefer. It is a small step, but one of many I hope I can make.
- Ganger/Lovegood 2016 – As a feminist, I love that two of the most beloved young witches are putting their thinking caps on to make a better and equal world for everyone, magic and non-magic alike.
Reading through all of their past initiatives, I am floored by the dedication and passion of this group to truly use their fandom for advocacy and education. I look forward to learning more ways to get involved. I do not have children of my own, but if I can help the world become just that more welcoming, understanding, and kind for others, I will.
I AM #ORLANDOSTRONG
Outside of GeekyCon, I was floored by the number of local artists who donated their art to help raise funds for various local charities including The OneOrlando Fund and the Zebra Coalition. I have yet to fully pay tribute to the memorials and murals around town because everything still feels too raw. I attended AC2 Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen which raised an amazing amount of money for OneOrlando. I purchased art from local artists and small businesses who pushed to flood the world with rainbows. I had meaningful, in-depth conversations with friends of mine. I also watched as our government failed us in voting down gun legislation which could potentially save lives. (That is an entire rant in itself!)
I love that both my local community and the fan community pulled together to raise money, awareness, and love– oh so much love– for Orlando and the LBGTQ+ Community. I hope the conversations had this weekend will impress upon fans of all ages about the importance of understanding, acceptance, love, peace, and community. Maybe some will walk away a little more knowledgeable while others will have opened their minds and hearts.
Answer Me, These Questions Three
- Which of the thought provoking panels would you like to attend?
- Although I’ve created my GC action plan which panels on Saturday or Sunday should I really try to attend?
- The HPA has an amazing concept of activism through fandom, but how can we go beyond that become more active citizens instead of waiting for something bad to happen?
I was able to donate blood in the days after the attack, and I hug Zelda a little tighter now.