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Geek girls gather at very Gay con

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Nikki Silveira flashes her "All My Friends Are Hot" fan —Photo by Daniel Lindsley
Nikki Silveira flashes her "All My Friends Are Hot" fan —Photo by Daniel Lindsley

Yet another horde of enthusiasts fell upon the Washington State Convention Center last Saturday, marking the venue's third con this year to feature comics, television, movies, and/or games. Though dwarfed by the likes of Emerald City Comic Con and PAX West, GeekGirlCon (GGC) 2022 punched far above its weight in the category of Queer representation.

Smaller cons might not have the same omnipresent buzz or sheer bulk of content, but they have a few key perks.

Suggestive supers on display at the Chibi Yeti kiosk — Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

Most attending GGC were fairly local, since a long trip from out of state is less attractive when, as a guest, there's simply less to do, and, as a vendor or an artist, there are fewer customers. But for anyone nearby, it's a chance to connect with like-minded geeks in the area.

The speakers that ran the Queer-oriented panels were fandom veterans, artists, and content creators with informed opinions, but none were so wildly popular that they couldn't be approached. Many were also based in the greater Seattle area, so fans could count on running into them again at other local events.

For example, in the food court, I ran into local media critic Jesse Earl, known as JesseGender on YouTube. They were resting after a foray into the vendors' hall with Women at Warp host Grace Moore, and were there as a panelist for "Politics of Science and Sci Fi."

Author Sonora Reyes is based in Arizona, but they had a lot to say about being a Queer, Latina author of young adult fiction. Their debut novel, The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School, blew up on Twitter after its launch, when conservative detractors caught wind of it.

Reyes recalled getting home from their launch party, "and I checked Twitter thinking I'd find all these congratulations for my book launch, and instead it was just hundreds and hundreds of comments calling me a groomer, and a pedophile, and all that stuff, just for writing a Queer book for teenagers."

It wasn't a fun experience, but it ended up causing a sort of reverse Streisand effect, where the negative engagement brought more positive attention too.

The Glamdalorian poses with a colorful Commander Keen — Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

"Because of that," Reyes added, "a lot of people came out in support of the book... It kind of worked out to my benefit, even though it was really hard in the moment.

"There was [also] someone who was like, 'I'm gonna buy a hundred copies of this book just so I can burn them. And I was like, 'Thank you.'"

Reyes also revealed that they visualize their characters in a very Queer way, using the extensive character creation suite of the popular modern life-simulation game Sims 4, which only just added the option to set a character's sexual and romantic orientations. (Before that, every character was functionally Bisexual, so 2022 marked the game's first straight representation.)

Back on the local front, Sarah Gulde of the Seattle-based Women at Warp podcast and the editor-in-chief of Star Trek Quarterly, moderated a panel of three Queer authors: Crystal Frazier, K. Tempest Bradford, and Seanan MacQuire.

Under the title "Our Favorite Female Sleuths," the four talked about Scooby Doo's Velma Dinkley, Murder, She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher, and others, breaking down the different subtropes of female detectives and the issues of the genre.

Some Queer-oriented panels are nothing more than an affirmation of who's Gay, and how much so (usually very), but "Female Sleuths" was far more educational. The panelists asked probing questions like, "Why are all teen detectives Gay?" And they pointed out contrasts with male detective fiction, which they described as more action-focused overall.

MacQuire in particular told some fascinating true stories — one about finding a corpse, and another about pulling a lizard out of a living man's leg — to the delight of all attending.

Yet another all-Queer panel of locals talked about "Marginalized Genders in Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRPGs)," featuring professional game masters Nikki Silveira and Wraith Dalziel, TTRPG writers Monroe Soto and Dana Ebert, and Wizards of the Coast narrative designer Maya Meizenzahl.

Safety was the biggest entry on the docket for the discussion, since the TTRPG space has been historically dominated by white, cisgender men, many of whom seem to want to keep it that way. The panelists talked about the tools they use to create safer spaces for playing TTRPGs, and they told some cautionary tabletop horror stories along the way. The panelists also brought up one of the Queerest aspects of TTRPGs, lauding the freedom the games grant to explore different identities.

Two Jedi pose outside a panel room — Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

Self-described "bimbarian" Silveira noted the importance, as both a player and a game master, of making sure that none at the table are the "only one" present of a given marginalized group. "I make sure that if I have a person of color [in the group], it's not just one," she said. "In fact, I am often the only white, cisgendered person, and I'd like to keep it that way."

The LGBTQ features of Emerald City Comic Con might be impressive, but at least by percentage, it may be that GGC this year was even Gayer. Its ethos of inclusion and social awareness shined through in every aspect, from the widely available ASL interpreters to the issue-focused panel discussions.