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Unity Days 2017 Post-Con Roundup

Some weeks ago we attended a convention called Unity Days in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What is Unity Days? It’s a con that’s put on by Unity Events Canada, which was founded by some awesome women who wanted to present pop culture events for fans. Unity Days 2017 was specifically about The 100, and the message of the event was positivity and appreciation for the show, the actors, the fans, and for each other.

This was our first time attending a con that was dedicated to just one show. The con booked a lot of the cast from The 100 since the show is filmed in Vancouver, and there were tons of opportunities for photo ops, autographs and panels to hear directly from the actors. There were several hundred attendees and unlike larger multifandom cons, the panels were one at a time in one room – which meant you could see them all and didn’t have to choose (unless you were getting your picture taken with a cast member or in line for an autograph, which is no hardship).

The moderator of all the panels was Jo Garfein, the co-founder and executive director of Cancer Gets LOST and the co-host of The Dropship (a podcast about The 100). Cancer Gets LOST channels fandom toward the greater good by raising money for cancer support charities through auctions and fundraisers that feature rare and autographed memorabilia. We first met Jo at San Diego Comic-Con in 2016 in line for autographs when she was planning to get one of our shirts signed for the 2016 CGL auction! How’s that for meta, and also awesome? (We never meta Jo we didn’t like.)

We attended this con as fans, though we were so proud that some of our Lexa Fangirl products were in the Cancer Gets LOST silent auction, which was the first event on Friday night. We also had our eyes on some of the other products up for bid.

It was fun to mingle, talk to other fans, and see old and new friends.

We kept a close eye on the auction and although the bidding in the last half hour got INTENSE, and we got outbid on a few fabulous pieces of artwork by @MaryneeLahaye and @agathecdl, we won those fabulous Clarke and Lexa crocheted dolls, which we LOVE and will be having some lighthearted fun with.

Saturday was one of those awkward days where you go somewhere and everyone’s wearing the same thing as you.

There were so many panels with the cast of The 100 in various combinations with various themes – such as the Arkadia Boys panel, the Camp Jaha panel, the Healers panel, the Delinquents panel, and the 100 Women panel – as well as specialized panels about topics like costume design, and the writers from Talk Nerdy With Us.

The panels were lighthearted, fun, and informative. We enjoyed hearing what everyone had to say. It was great to have the opportunity to hear from the actors themselves, in their own voices, and to see their personalities shine through. Sachin Sahel (who plays Jackson on the show) was a major crowd favourite, with his witty commentary and tendency to crash all of the other panels and stand in line to ask the other cast members funny questions.

In the PrincessMechanic panel (aka Clarke and Raven, which ended up being just the Princess panel since Lindsey Morgan had to film some scenes on Saturday morning), Jo asked Eliza Taylor a question about what it’s like to represent the queer community.

So speaking of representation, we wanted to represent with an official Fangirl Shirts photo op with Eliza Taylor:

Talk Nerdy With Us was the official press partner for the con and Caitlin, Alison and Kelsey did a panel about covering the 100. They talked about how they found the show and what writing about nerdy TV has meant to each of them. It was a very personal and fun panel.

At Fangirl Shirts, we make awesome shirts by, for and about awesome women. So we were super pumped for the “The 100 Women” panel, and we didn’t even care that it was slightly false advertising, because there weren’t actually 100 women on the panel.

Lindsey Morgan had some affirming words about how the women on the show are loved for who they are, not for who they are in relation to anyone else.

We made our Lexa Fangirl shirt and our Clexa shirt because the characters and the relationship are important. Lexa was a strong leader, a fierce warrior, and a hero to a legion of devoted fans. Clarke is a confident, capable leader who will do anything to protect her people. These are the types of queer characters that are still sorely underrepresented in 2017. In the post-apocalyptic world of the 100, sexuality is a non-issue, and that’s a message that we need to see more of on our televisions.

What a great three days – thank you SO MUCH to everyone who put so much work into Unity Days!

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What should we bring to ClexaCon?

We’re going to ClexaCon, and we want to bring every single thing we have. But we might have to narrow it down a bit. Help us! Which fandoms do YOU want us to bring? Specifically, that you’re likely to buy – we don’t want to have to carry it all home, ha ha. Vote for as many as you wish! If you don’t remember what all of these shirts look like, here’s our catalog.

Note:  we’re just going to bring T-shirts to ClexaCon – because of travel and shipping, mugs and hats will continue to be a special order item. 

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Spashley Fangirl

South of Nowhere (2005-2008) was an American TV show that provided many people with their first real chance to see positive LGBTQ representation on television. The show aired for 40 episodes on a little network called The N, and although the show was only on the air for three seasons, the relationship it portrayed has had a profound and long-lasting effect on fans.

Much like other teen dramas of the time, the central setting for the show is the high school that the main characters attend together. But unlike any other show of that time period, South of Nowhere fearlessly and respectfully portrayed the main character, Spencer Carlin, taking us on her journey of self-discovery as she met, befriended, and fell in love with Ashley Davies.

“Spashley” was quickly coined by fans, who were elated to finally have an authentic canon queer fictional relationship to follow on TV. The writers paid tribute to the portmanteau and to the incredibly loyal fans of the show in the series finale, when Ashley gave Spencer a keychain filled with sand from the beach where Spencer came out to her, with Spashley written along the side.

We designed the Spashley Fangirl shirt to celebrate this iconic ‘ship between Spencer and Ashley, and the reunion of the actors who portrayed them, Gabrielle Christian and Mandy Musgrave, at ClexaCon in Las Vegas this March. Show your love for Spashley, wear our new design with pride! Available in 8 styles and multiple colors.

 

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Supergirl!

Spoiler alert:  we have a new shirt, and it’s for Supergirl! Get yours here.

In 2015 when we heard that there would be a new superhero show and that it would be Supergirl, we were excited. There were plenty of superhero shows out there already – they have been enjoying a renaissance lately – but we knew Supergirl would be something special. This would be one of the only superhero franchises that had a female protagonist, and that held so many possibilities.

Neither of us had read the Supergirl comics, so we came into watching the show without much context for what was true to the comics and what was newly dreamed up by the writers. We tuned into CBS every week to see what Kara Danvers and her friends were up to.

Supergirl was both familiar and fresh:  familiar in that the Super-world and the backstory of Krypton’s demise were already well-established, and fresh in that it told a new story that didn’t focus on Clark Kent, Lois Lane and the Daily Planet. There were parallels, to be sure, and James Olson was a character we knew from the Superman movies, but it felt original.

There was a lot to like about the first season. It was clear from the first episode that Kara was chafing at the need to keep her Kryptonian identity a secret. When circumstances forced her to save her sister Alex’s plane from crashing by using her powers, the secret was out that National City was home to a superhero. Supergirl was born, and Kara had to figure out how to become a protector of the people while balancing a secret identity and a career with a demanding boss.

As Kara struggled with integrating her new identity into her life, we noted the metaphor. What’s it like these days for a young woman to stand up for herself and forge an identity in an ever-more complicated and competitive world, when for so long she’s been told to smile, hide who she was, and be nice? This storyline resonated.

Another highlight of the first season was Kara’s relationship with Cat Grant. It provided many uncomfortable situations for Kara to traverse, and also the opportunity to grow and gain confidence. Cat herself, played masterfully by Calista Flockhart, was always a welcome icy-cold confident presence who provided both structure in the narrative and occasional comic relief.

Television is at its best when it can reflect back to us what’s happening in our own society through the medium of entertainment. The storyline about aliens on Earth, the petition for alien amnesty or asylum, and the reactions of the humans holds up a mirror to us about our modern immigration debate. Are we doing better or worse than the people of Earth?

The crown jewel in the first season was the relationship between the Danvers sisters. Their bond was the strongest, most consistently supportive relationship on the show, uncomplicated by the things that made Kara’s relationships with the other characters complex. It even survived Alex’s self-defense killing of Kara’s aunt Astra, a killing made all the more fraught by Kara’s hope that she could redeem Astra.

There were other elements of the first season’s storyline that didn’t resonate as much – primarily the show’s attempt to make Kara’s crush on James Olson and his growing awareness of his feelings for her turn into a slow-burn relationship. It felt forced, but also felt like a diversion of focus from Kara’s own journey of self-discovery. The same applies to the other romantic storylines for Kara that were part of the first season – they felt more like a default attempt to give a female character a romantic love interest because that’s just what you do, not because it made sense for either the character or the storyline.

Similarly, Maxwell Lord as a somewhat ambiguously evil arch villain who maybe had some good intentions didn’t hit all the right notes. He wasn’t menacing enough to be truly despicable, yet he didn’t display enough depth to make us wonder or care if he could be redeemed.

In summary:  we liked the first season, and the writing, storylines, and characters were all done well enough to keep our interest.

But so far we have LOVED the second season. Who knows for sure how these things happen – if the creators and writers of the show noticed that some elements of the first season didn’t mesh well or resonate with fans and critics, or if the switch of network from CBS to its younger, hipper cousin the CW played a role. What we know as viewers is that things have changed in the second season and this has become a show that we LOVE and can’t miss.

Let’s start with Kara. She’s growing in confidence and starting to choose her own path, both as a superhero and as a career woman. This same confidence is evident in the super side of her life – Supergirl is now much more of an action hero. She also came to the realization that a relationship with James wasn’t what she wanted, and decided that she needed to be romantically unattached for a while. As viewers who want to see a show about main characters who are self-actualized and can grow and learn, this is gratifying growth for Kara.

We’ve seen returning characters grow and explore different storylines. James and Winn teamed up to create Guardian, and  J’onn J’onzz is confronting his loneliness and also his feelings about the genocide that White Martians committed against Green Martians. Fantastic additions to the story have been introduction of Project Cadmus as the main antagonist this season,  and the introduction of Lena Luthor as someone who is determined to transcend her family’s history of evil.

In some ways, we see Lena Luthor and her mother Lillian as a reshuffling of needed character traits into characters who simply fit better. What didn’t capture our interest in Season One about Maxwell Lord now feels more compelling since pieces of his attempted storyline have been split and better fleshed out. Lillian is a better, more ruthless and more bone-chilling villain, and Lena has a more poignant redemption journey to overcome her family name and their past deeds.

Together, Lena and Snapper also appear to be filling the hole left by the departure of Cat Grant from the cast of characters. Snapper doesn’t have the emotional connection with Kara that Cat did, though he provides a gruff and often rude superior authority figure for Kara to measure herself against. Lena and Kara are on slightly more equal footing than Cat and Kara were, but Lena is also more emotionally accessible as a friend than Cat ever could have been.

Now that Winn’s crush on Kara is over, and James’ brief romance with Kara is also over, these two characters needed something else to do. Winn’s job at the DEO gives us more scenes at the DEO that truly benefit from his non-military style of communication, and his hacker skills are better used there than at Catco. While James’ career change to become a leader at Catco and try to fill Cat’s shoes could be interesting, Supergirl is Kara’s story, not James’. His desire to help the citizens of National City by becoming a superhero lets us see him in more interesting situations than managing an office. It also creates more space for him to interact with Kara in her superhero persona, rather than as Kara Danvers, and gives Kara several decisions to make about him and his actions. That his desire to have superpowers might be driven by his failed romance with Kara could be an interesting plot point for the future.

A bright, shining star in an already-excellent second season is the coming out arc for Alex Danvers, as told against the backdrop of her growing attraction to Maggie Sanders. While we don’t know if the writers had intended this from the start, many first season viewers, including us and several of our friends, had discussed that we thought Alex would make an excellent LGBTQ character. There was just something about her, though there was no concrete evidence for it that we can point to – except for the incredibly awkward kiss she and Maxwell Lord shared, and that could have been written off due to his quasi-evil status.

Alex’s coming out was both well-written and authentic, and incredibly well-acted. It reflected many personal stories we’ve heard, where people who felt like something was never quite right, or missing in their attempts to date members of the opposite sex. Alex wondered if there was something wrong with her, and adjusted by burying herself in her work. It was only when Alex met Maggie, someone she clicked with on many levels, and Maggie spoke openly about noticing Alex’s attraction to her, that the pieces started to fall into place for Alex.

Alex’s first attempt to connect romantically with Maggie didn’t go as planned, since Maggie thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to start dating someone who had just come out of the closet. While that was painful to watch, it was understandable. More importantly, it let us as viewers see how honest and brave Alex could be in identifying her pain and vulnerability and communicating it not only to her sister, but also directly to Maggie. This lines up with what we’ve come to know about Alex’s character over the first season and a half – she’s brave in her line of work in confronting physical danger, and is no coward in the emotional department either.

While we don’t harbor illusions that the path forward will be without challenges for Alex and Maggie, we are hopeful that we will continue to see this same authenticity and honesty in the representation that these two characters are bringing to this story and into our lives.

Finally, but not least, the sisters. Kara and Alex continue to be the bedrock of each others’ lives and each others’ safe space. Family is at the heart of this story, and these two strong, awesome female characters who are kicking ass and protecting the world from evil are what we’re here for.

And that’s why we want to wear these shirts – to show the world that we are SUPER FANGIRLS.

 

 

 

 

PS – we published this blog post on the same day as the Women’s Marches that were held all over the world to vow to resist the harmful policies of America’s new President, and to state that women’s rights are human rights. Melissa Benoist attended and this is one of her tweets/instagram posts from the day. She is truly our Supergirl! Thank you, Melissa!

💪#womensmarchonwashington

A photo posted by Melissa Benoist (@melissabenoist) on

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ClexaCon 2017

We’re going to ClexaCon!

What’s ClexaCon? It’s a Media and Entertainment Convention for LGBTQ Women and Allies, taking place in Las Vegas March 3-5, 2017. There will be celebrity guests, panels and workshops, a film festival, photos and autographs, vendors, special networking events, and more!

This is the very first ever convention specifically about LGBTQ women in media and entertainment. That’s kind of mind-boggling and we are really, really excited about attending it and absorbing so much awesome content. There’s even going to be a Lost Girl panel, and if you know the Fangirl Shirts creation story, then you’ll know that we met on twitter because we were both Lost Girl fans. If you’re interested in some of the backstory for how ClexaCon came about, go read the Women and Words interview with ClexaCon.

We’re honored to have had two panels accepted by ClexaCon. You can read the full descriptions on the ClexaCon website, so we’ll just summarize here. – Make sure you go read up on ALL the awesome programming, because we want to attend every other panel as well!

Creating a positive, inclusive & amazeballs Fandom Family – Wynonna Earp Style – we are psyched to join our buddies Bonnie (@WynonnaFans), Kevin (@WynonnaEarpPod) and Bridget (@BridgetOnTV) to talk about the early days of Wynonna Earp fandom, what happened during Season 1, and what might lie ahead! We are also THRILLED to have an awesome moderator, Valerie Anne (@PunkyStarshine), who we will be fangirling over because we love her hilarious and insightful recaps.

Queer Lady Business – we’re joining some AWESOME queer-lady-owned businesses for a panel to talk about what it’s like to start and run a business by and for queer women. We’re excited to be joined by Anita Dolce Vita from dapperQ and Christin Baker of Tello Films. And our moderator will be Andi Marquette from Women and Words (who interviewed us for the WW blog a couple of months ago) and we can’t wait to meet Andi in person!

If you’re a fan of the kickass TV show Wynonna Earp (and if you’re not, then go watch it right now), you’ll be excited to know there will be a panel called “The WayHaught Women of Wynonna Earp,” featuring Dominique Provost-Chalkley (who plays Waverly Earp), Katherine Barrell (who plays Officer Nicole Haught), and Emily Andras (series creator, showrunner, and unwilling inspiration for and denier of our “Team Fandras” line of products, designed by the amazing @actually_layne). The WayHaught panel will be moderated by Bridget Liszeweski from The TV Junkies, who also AWESOMELY moderated the Wynonna panel at Toronto FanExpo in 2016. Bridget writes about Canadian TV and shows with strong female characters, two things we both absolutely adore.

What’s Bridget talking about? Well, we made a special design inspired by WayHaught, Vegas, and ClexaCon – check it out!

We are also doing something that will be a first for us – we’re going to be an exhibitor! We’ll be bringing as many shirts, stickers, lanyards, buttons and sundries as we can carry. Please come to the exhibitor space and say hi to us! And if you want to buy something, that’s cool too. No pressure. (We really need to practice this business thing…) 

Go check out the ClexaCon website and see all the awesomeness that lies ahead. Tickets are still available, so get yours today!

Honestly, our biggest concern is how we’re going to be able to do our panels, run our vendor table, and still attend every awesome event, panel, and workshop that we want to. Which frankly, when you think about the space that LGBTQ women often occupy, being on the outside or the fringes of things, is a really nice problem to have.