Showing Up for Indigenous Communities with Our Money, Time, and Attention

Our community comes together on Indigenous land–the occupied, unceded territory of Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, Lummi, Skagit, and Swinomish. It’s our responsibility to reckon with this reality every day, throughout our personal lives, professional lives, and everything in between. 

However, this acknowledgement is not enough. A continuing priority for GeekGirlCon is to build real, lasting, power-sharing relationships with Indigenous communities. We commit to holding ourselves accountable to this work and doing better. 

Today, Thanksgiving in the United States, is a symbolically relevant day to center conversations about how white and non-Indigenous people perpetuate the ongoing colonization of Indigenous communities. That being said, we must make these conversations–and action–a priority every day. 

Below are some resources for education, taking action, and engaging with Indigenous creators–this is far from a comprehensive list, but rather a place to build from:

Unlearning colonial Thanksgiving myths:

Mashpee Wampanoag

The people harmfully mythologized in our stories about Thanksgiving are currently fighting to defend the status of their Reservation and along with it resources for critical programs. This page describes direct action you can take.

All My Relations podcast: ThanksTaking or ThanksGiving?

The real history of Thanksgiving as told by Wampanoag scholars Paula Peters and Linda Coombs.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Big Players in Game Creation Coming to GeekGirlCONLINE this Sunday

VALVE | #Valve @ValveSoftware

WEARING ALL THE HATS: Adventures in Gaming and Tech with the Women of Valve

Sunday, October 25 at 2:30 p.m. on Twitch

Join a panel of women from Valve sharing their experiences wearing all of the hats as they contribute to games, Steam, and VR, discussing topics ranging from mechanical keyboards, wildlife tracking, imposter syndrome, confidence, humility, design, and playtesting.

MINECRAFT

Behind the Blocks: The Women Making Minecraft w/ Helen Chiang

Sunday, October 25 at 5:30 p.m. on Twitch

Meet the women making Minecraft: Head of Studio Helen Chiang, Chief Storyteller Lydia Winters, Minecraft Creator GM Deanna Hearn, and Executive Producer Anita Sujarit as they discuss being a leader inside one of the most popular gaming franchises in the world, Minecrafting for good, career tips for industry pros and newcomers, and what excites them as they look to the future of gaming.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

GeekGirlCONLINE Weekend 2 | Comics

We hope you loved the first weekend of GeekGirlCONLINE! 

We’re thrilled to return this weekend with another round of geeky fun with a whole new theme: Comics! Here’s a quick look at what you can expect in the coming days:

Panels & Activities

Join us on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. for Behind the Scenes in Kids Comics with Wendy Browne, Kiara Valdez, Rose Pleuler, Whitney Leopard, JuYoun Lee, and Megan Peace!

What goes into making a book? Join four esteemed editors from inside comics publishing for a discussion of editing, agents, pitching, and what goes on in the everyday of working at a publisher. With kids graphic novel editors Whitney Leopard (Random House Graphic), Megan Peace (Scholastic Graphix), Rose Pleuler (Harper Alley), and Kiara Valdez (First Second). Moderated by Wendy Browne (Women Write About Comics).

We’ve also got two fun and exciting workshops coming up on Sunday! Tune in to Twitch on Sunday, October 11 at 1 p.m. for All About Wigs hosted by the Cosplay Repair Station. Right after, tune in for Geeky Comedy at 2:30 p.m. 

All this programming will stream live on our Twitch account, so mark your calendars! 

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Q&A with GeekGirlCONLINE Merch Artist Ragon Dickard

Custom merch design for GeekGirlCONLINE '20

Each year, our team works with a new artist to create custom GeekGirlCon merch for the con. Most things about this year are different, but we do have an amazing merch artist for you to meet: Ragon Dickard! 

To give y’all a better picture of the person who created the works of art that are this year’s designs, I asked Ragon some questions about her background, art, and surviving quarantine. 

So read on to learn all about Ragon, and when you’re done, check out our 2020 merch here.

Meet Ragon, everybody! [Image Description: Headshot of Ragon. She’s white and has short curly brown hair. She’s smiling brightly and looking at the camera. She has a septum piercing and apple earrings (of her own design!). She’s wearing a striped black and white shirt.]

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Over 100 Exhibitors in the Virtual Expo Hall!

Such a huge part of attending any con—as I’m sure y’all know—is spending hours looking through all of the amazing exhibitors who bring their breathtaking work to us year after year. I’m sure we all agree that it’s one of our favorite ways to support independent creators.

While we can’t convene in person, we still fully intend to recreate that pivotal experience with our Virtual Expo Hall.

Launching in October, our virtual marketplace will play host to over 100 unique exhibitors. Our team is currently working hard to prepare a seamless digital browsing experience for all of us, so stay tuned for more updates as we near GeekGirlCONLINE.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

The Case for Twilight Book Clubs

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of book clubs. But, in reality, that’s always all it’s ever been to me–an idea.

During high school, in a last-ditch effort to find community at the time when I felt most incapacitated by my anxiety, I recall trying to start a book club with the help of the librarian. In the end, I was one of two people who read the book, and we never met a second time. When I graduated from college a year before my two best friends, we started a book club (/podcast, which is highly cringey to admit in retrospect…) as a means to stay close despite the newfound distance. Again, we read one book before letting the self-imposed pressure to publicize our conversations get the better of us. A couple of years ago, I did an internship at the Feminist Press, and even there, perhaps the place one would need the least external motivation to collectively read and talk about books, I become absorbed with the idea of starting dedicated book club among the staff. No surprise, that project did not come to fruition. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve officially joined approximately five different book clubs, some through bookstores, some through friends, some through neighborhood groups. I’ve never actually been to a single meeting, though I still read the books on my own sometimes–always with the best and most hopeful intentions.

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

LGBTQIA+ Staff Round-Up for Pride: Queer Media We Love

We’re currently living through one of the weirdest and darkest and most stressful times most of us have ever experienced–you don’t need me to tell you that. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot is how much we need to continue fostering our communities if we’re going to survive with our mental health and relationships and sense of hope intact. Thinking about good queer media, and sharing it with y’all, is only one tiny part of that work, but it’s a part I can do today, just in time to honor the end of Pride. Read on to hear what some of our LGBTQIA+ GeekGirlCon staffers love about their favorite queer media, take care of yourselves and each other, and then let’s get back to showing up for Black lives and queer liberation.

Look at this beautiful piece Tina Burns, our Twitter Social Media Specialist, made earlier this month! [Image Description: Watercolor Pride flag with the word “Love” written in cursive on it.] Source: Tina Burns

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

#GeekGirlTalk: Felix Ever After

Who We Are Vaguely and in Terms Only of the Media We Seek Out Most Often:

Teal (roman type!)
Literally any teen TV show, YA, women’s and feminist media, everything Star Trek

Hanna (italics, baby!)
Reality TV, memoirs, romance novels, anything British, any podcast ever

I think both Hanna and I have been craving some really good, really queer YA recently. When I started hearing about Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender online, I knew it was likely to be just that. The story follows a 17-year-old Black trans kid named Felix as he muddles his way through a summer program he’s completing at the private arts high school he attends in New York. A few important throughlines of the story are that Felix doesn’t know what to make for his senior portfolio (which he’ll submit in his college applications), he’s questioning whether there’s more to his trans and queer identities than he’d previously thought, and he feels a lot of anxiety about the fact that he’s never been in love and what that might mean about him. It’s serious YA stuff, and serious queer stuff, and that’s the exact arena I’m most interested in. But, before I dive into what I was thinking while reading, Hanna, what did you think of Felix?

So, for the first 30 or so pages of Felix, I was really afraid that I wouldn’t love it. (Which, of course, wouldn’t have ultimately mattered so much; as a white cis queer woman, my personal opinion on the book is irrelevant as long as it connects with the communities represented within it–namely, Black trans people). I was frustrated by the Felix’s friends (with the exception of Ezra and, eventually, Leah), and I was worried that the multifaceted and intense transphobia that Felix experiences early on meant that the book would reinforce a narrative in which trans people are always the subjects of violence and are never allowed joy. Ultimately, though, I loved this book. It was so complex, emotional, and full of such realistic depictions of friendship, love, family, and identity. A few things in particular stood out to me: the fact that the quasi love triangle in the book actually worked (!?), the beauty of Felix’s search for an identifier that felt right to him (which felt so believable to the experience of a teen who’s just, like, “It’s a great thing that I have Google to help me figure this out,”) and the way that art (and artist’s block) helps Felix connect with himself and understand what he really wants out of life (spoiler alert: getting in to Brown isn’t going to solve anyone’s problems). Teal, I would love to also talk about the fact that this is an #OwnVoices book–something that is, of course, crucial for so many reasons.

[Image Description: Cover art for Felix Ever After. There’s an illustration of a Black kid with short wavy brown hair. He has a low-cut grayish tank top. You can see some tattoos on his arms and parts of his top-surgery scars on his chest. Around him and on his head there are doodles of flowers and yellow paint smears. The background is an orange-red.] Source: Goodreads

Yes! Okay, so #OwnVoices, though y’all likely already know, means exactly what it sounds like: It’s a way to describe books that are written by authors who share the identities of their main, POV characters. This is a hugely important thing in all fiction, but particularly in books for and about kids and teens where so much of the plot revolves around a coming-of-age and/or emotional journey for the main character. In terms of this book and the intersection between the characters’ experiences and my own, I’ve been thinking a lot about #OwnVoices and how it’s being utilitzed by queer writers for their queer characters.

Something that we talk a lot about, Hanna, is the fact that queer writers (who are writing queer characters) in any genre, but notably in YA since its popular iteration is relatively new, have to do a lot of work that cishet writers don’t. There is context about queerness that needs explaining, tropes that need dismantling and reworking. In so many ways, the fact that queer writers are getting long-overdue attention (though it’s still fractional compared to what’s owed) while the concept of #OwnVoices is being widely discussed is pivotal because it gives more genre-defining authority to actual queer writers. And I think Felix is a perfect example of this process and what it can mean for queer YA as more big publishing houses start paying attention to these stories. 

I think that this is one of the aspects of this book that makes it so specifically perfect for young adults/teens (even though, of course, YA books are for everyone) and so specifically perfect for this particular time period. Callender does so much work in this book to explore identity terminology, to explain and illustrate the many forms that transphobia can take, to affirm a multiplicity of identities and specificity of experience, to discuss the joys and limitations of Pride™. Sometimes, it feels like a lot of exposition, a lot of work to get the book’s audience on the same page. But in some ways, that also feels like a necessary strategy for right now–especially when Black trans people still face such disproportionate levels of violence, and when there is such pervasive ignorance and misinformation about trans and nonbinary identities. Teal, what do you feel about the approach that Callender takes? Did it work for you? What are the upsides and the limitations of having to do so much more explaining that white cishet writers?

I think the upsides of this approach are monumental in that Felix, and other books like it, will give so much to their readers. Like, just as a point of reference, Hanna and I, two white adult people who have had a lot of safety and validation in exploring our queerness, need this book much differently than I imagine queer kids of color might. And the fact that we have people like Callender who are putting in so much work to get these stories out in the world is so heartening. This is the kind of art that I want to support with my attention and my money (and my blogging lolol). 

Also, despite everything I just said, I also found so many moments in Felix, especially the parts where he’s thinking about his queerness, to so intensely give me the feeling of, Wow, this is why we need queer people to write queer sh**. Hanna pulled this perfect quote to give you an example of Callender’s real triumph in this process:

 “I was hurt this summer, hurt more than I thought I ever could be. It could’ve been easy to say I was hurt because I’m trans, because someone singled me out for my identity, but there’s something weird about that—something off, about suggesting that my identity is the thing that brought me any sort of pain. It’s the opposite. Being trans brings me love. It brings me happiness. It gives me power. It makes me feel like I’m a god. I wouldn’t change myself for anything.”

One other/final thing I’ll say is that I’m just so excited about how the quote unquote genre of queer YA will continue to evolve as more queer writers publish new stories. We’re going to get so much good and real and hopeful depictions of queer people and relationships. And we’re going to get our own tropes and our own genre conventions, and it’s basically the only thing I’m excited for. 

On that note, let’s continue this conversation and celebrate Pride by sharing reviews and recommendations for more YA written by queer BIPOC on Twitter. You can find me @TealChristensen and Hanna @HuppTwoThree. 

Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

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