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Clexa Con 2017 Roundup

This is our first blog post about ClexaCon 2017, but it won’t be the last.

ClexaCon was an amazing experience, and so much happened. We can’t possible sum up everything in just one post, so we’re going to do a roundup/play-by-play right now with highlights and moments from the con, and then continue to work on a series of posts that delve more deeply into specific topics.

Thursday night we went to the ClexaCon badge pickup party at the Phoenix, an LGBTQ bar a few miles away from the Strip. The party was a chance to pick up your badge early (as the name implied) and to mitigate long lines on Friday morning, but also to break the ice and give people a chance to meet each other in person before the con.

It was well attended and felt like ClexaCon was taking over the whole bar, in a friendly and chill way. This is a great idea for any con where the attendees have enough in common that they’d all like to hang out at the same place together, in our opinion.

Friday was a big day for us. We had to set up our very first ever vendor booth and arrange our merchandise and our displays, and then soon after we were speaking on our first panel at the con.

It takes a village to do a lot of things, and this expression extends to vendor booths at LGBTQ cons. We were so lucky to have so many good friends who were willing to meet us early to help set up, and we put them to work! With many hands, the booth came together in no time and looked great. We were especially proud of our rack, which we thought displayed our shirts to their best advantage.

Thank you, friends, very sincerely
Rack jokes aside, here’s a glimpse behind the scenes at one of the many decisions we had to make while planning for the con. We knew we would bring a lot of our shirts, and in fact, we ended up bringing all we had. Since we have at least 25 distinct designs, we needed a way to make them easy to see and also to look attractive. Some of the display solutions we considered might have worked well, but most of them were either too heavy to pack or ship, or too expensive.

It was a make-it-work moment. We’re lucky that one of us at Fangirl Shirts is handy and can design and build structures with good confidence. After a moment of inspiration, Rebecca had thought of, designed, and built a display rack made of easily assembled and disassembled PVC that weighed just 13 pounds (5.9kg) and that we can use for years to come. This was one of about seven thousand challenges and decisions we had to make in the months and weeks leading up to ClexaCon.

The con floor opened at noon, and we did some brisk business.

Before we knew it, it was time to go to our panel – Queer Lady Business. Our friends Monica and Chris had agreed to woman the booth while we were speaking. Yet again, thank you to our friends.

How can you create and succeed with a business that markets to LGBTQ geek women in an ethical way? Join women-owned businesses that have women at the core of their business model. Hear how they work to stay afloat and grow without being exploitative or seduced by the almighty dollar. Discuss how can giving back through philanthropy be a central part of a successful business model. Come to learn, and get all up in our queer lady business!

We had proposed this panel to ClexaCon and were psyched that they accepted it. We want to run a successful business ethically and without exploiting our customers, and we figured that other businesses who have queer women as their core customer base probably face the same questions we do.

The panel was awesome and so much fun (if we do say so ourselves). We shared the stage with Christin Baker of tello films and Anita Dolce Vita of dapperq. Our moderator was Andi Marquette from Women & Words. The discussion gave us a lot to think about in terms of supporting each other as queer lady businesses and we’ll be expanding on that in another post.

You can view a periscope of the panel that Bonnie, aka @WynonnaFans recorded. Warning, the f-word figures prominently in parts of the panel (for emphasis, not because of a dispute), so maybe use headphones.

We spent much of the rest of the day at the Fangirl Shirts table both selling merchandise and talking to people that we knew from twitter and were meeting in person for the first time. We also met a lot of new people. Since Earpers and all fans were all welcomed to make the area around our booth a meeting place, we never felt alone. We also managed to do fannish things like getting a couple of autographs.

At 7pm, it was time for a much-anticipated panel, The WayHaught Women of Wynonna Earp. Moderated by Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies, the panelists included Emily Andras, showrunner, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, who plays Waverly Earp, and Katherine Barrell, who plays Nicole Haught. The panel was awesome, but don’t take our word for it – here’s the audio recording from Tales of the Black Badge, a Wynonna Earp Fan Podcast.

A big shoutout and thank you to @RealSmarticus for periscoping the panel for us. (Also, loved the selfies you took on our phone!)

After a big first day at con, you must go out and let your hair down. Even if it’s been down all day or if you have short hair. It’s a metaphor, people.

Saturday dawned bright and early and Sally likes to begin her days with a run when possible, especially at a con where most of the time is spent indoors. She was joined by Fangirl Shirts’ very first customer ever, Laura Snodgrass. Laura’s alter ego is DJ Kissyface and she made a ClexaCon mix before the con that you can download and use for your workouts.

The con floor opened at 10am. One of our activities was to attend the Table Talk Lunch with Bridget Liszewski (Sally attended while Rebecca held down the fort). Bridget is the Editor in Chief at The TV Junkies, a website dedicated to talking about television and with special affinity for Canadian television and strong female characters. Fans of Bridget’s work have begun to call themselves “Liszebians” – we’ll keep an eye on this trend for you.

Our next speaking opportunity was Creating a Positive Fandom Family – Wynonna Earp Style. Moderated by Valerie Anne, who recaps Wynonna Earp (and Supergirl and writes many many other things too) for Autostraddle, the panelists included:  Sally and Rebecca from Fangirl Shirts, Bonnie from @WynonnaFans (and here’s the website), Kevin from @WynonnaEarpPod (podcast website), and Bridget from The TV Junkies.

We were surprised, grateful and fangirled a little bit inside, but remained very very cool, calm and collected on the outside when Emily Andras came in to attend the panel. We’ll have more to say in another post about the topics we discussed during the panel, like:

  • the contagious nature of kindness
  • the absolute mission for fans of Wynonna Earp to recruit other fans to watch the show so the ratings go up, and
  • sales tax.

Here’s the audio recording of the panel from Tales of the Black Badge, a Wynonna Earp Podcast. The audio is very good.

Here’s one periscope from WynonnaFans (who was ON the panel, so thanks to Alli and Sylvia who made this happen).

And here’s Emily’s periscope:

Dominique Provost-Chalkley also came in the room toward the end of the panel. To have the showrunner, the production director and one of the actresses from the show attend your fan panel about was surreal in a great way.

Back at the booth, someone stopped by to browse the merchandise. When you’ve followed someone’s work but have only seen their photo next to their byline, meeting them in person is a really cool experience. It was Mo Ryan, chief TV critic at Mo decided to attend ClexaCon to get a sense of what the con was all about, and she published an article afterward.

We’ve been fans of Mo’s work for a while, but two pieces in particular were extra important to us. First, her article about Lexa’s death on The 100 helped us when we felt particularly distressed about the way that character was killed. Her article was also validating – when the chief TV critic at a major industry publication is saying the same things as thousands of hurt fans, it’s reassuring that yes, we’re right to feel upset and even betrayed, and that what happened was not okay.

Second, Mo’s article about the 20 best new shows of 2016 included Wynonna Earp, and that’s one of the most exciting things of all. It’s even on a poster from IDW about Season 2!

We didn’t have tons of times for photo ops, but we made time to get a picture with Emily Andras. We had it all planned out, to wear our Fandras shirts with the Andras herself, but alas, Emily had other plans.

Another panel we attended was The Power of Queer Social Media, which talked about queer fans and social media usage to make their voices heard. That panel was moderated by the fabulous Dana Piccoli, Managing Editor of the Bella Books blog (here’s her blog post about ClexaCon) who is as funny and lively a moderator as you’ll ever meet. The speakers were Chelsea Steiner, Tara Stuart (affiliated with LGBT Fans Deserve Better), Bridget Liszewski, and Emily Andras. Fan power is another topic we’ll explore more deeply in a future blog post.

Then at night it was time for the Lost Girl panel, moderated by Yael Tygiel and featuring Rachel Skarsten, Zoie Palmer and Emily Andras. Our friend Jill, @nedleysoffice, womaned the Fangirl Shirts booth for us during the panel, and we are so grateful.

This was one of the most hilarious panels of the con, for some reason. Everyone was very relaxed and the questions from the audience were particularly amusing. Maybe it’s that the show is over and there isn’t any need to avoid giving away spoilers, or maybe it’s that the tension of who Bo will choose has been resolved. Regardless, for a show we love so much and that sparked the creation of Fangirl Shirts, attending this panel was like a dream.

An additional optional event that Sally attended on Saturday evening was Cocktails for Change, an hour-long cocktail party with many of the guests that benefited the Tegan & Sara Foundation, “Fighting for Economic Justice, Health and Representation for LGBTQ Girls and Women.” It was a lovely, intimate event and a chance to chat with the celebrities in a different setting. ClexaCon did a great job in setting expectations for the event so the guests could feel comfortable and like they would not be swarmed, and the fans who attended did a great job of respecting those boundaries. Giving back to charity is a core value of Fangirl Shirts, and we love that it’s a core value of ClexaCon as well.

Later that evening, Autostraddle hosted a meetup at a nearby bar and grill, so we went there and had an absolute blast. There was Jenga, soft pretzels you could dip in cheese sauce, and more cheese sauce for the fries. We’d like to get a side of cheese sauce with our Jenga, also. (In fact, we did, because when the Jenga finally fell down, the pieces went everywhere.)

Bonnie is in awe of Franzi’s Jenga skills

Sunday morning, three of us headed out for another run, and we called ourselves Team Fangirl. If anyone else would like to join a small group of people at future cons for morning runs, leave a comment! Maybe we’ll make Team Fangirl a thing.

Sunday morning, we were again grateful to our friends Laura, Franzi and Kris who held down the FGS booth fort for us.

With any con, you have to choose what to attend, and at ClexaCon, we wanted to go to literally all the panels and workshops but weren’t able to. We are thrilled that ClexaCon allowed videoing of all the panels, because even if we missed something, we can still see it.

One of the second-last panels of the con was a very important topic – LGBTQ Actresses in TV and Film. Out actors discussed what is like to come out and be out in the industry, and how their coming out has affected their careers. We dare you to watch the Periscope of Ali Liebert telling the story about her process while she was filming Bomb Girls and not cry.

The con rounded out with Podcasting Your Passion, where a group of podcasters shared their insights and advice with the audience. Kevin and Bonnie from Tales of the Black Badge and Kris and Annie from the ASK Genre TV family of podcasts, which includes Fanalysis, Drinks at the Dal, Tatiana Is Everyone, The Quad, the Bomb Girls Beacon and more. Podcasts about TV shows are kind of like a book club – they help listeners better understand and enjoy the shows, and enhance the TV-watching experience.

This tweet from Katie sums up not only fan power, but ClexaCon itself, if you ask us.

One conversation we had with a con attendee at the booth who did epic Holtzman cosplay, @Kranstar, has stuck with us. She walked by and said hello, and we got to talking about how our con experience had been, as it was the last day and we were both feeling somewhat reflective. This isn’t an exact quote, but what Karin said was essentially that it wasn’t until attending ClexaCon and feeling like she so fully belonged somewhere, that she realized that in everyday life she doesn’t always feel that way. (Us too.)

Among the many other things we want to thank ClexaCon for, it’s for giving us all a place where we feel like we belong.

And then, just like that, it was over. We broke down the booth in record time – again, with a lot of help from our friends. We learned a lot from our vending experience that we hope to put to good use in the future at more cons. And we had an absolute blast.

We’ll have further posts about ClexaCon, so stay tuned. As well, there was so much content at the con that we weren’t able to see, so we’ll also do a roundup of periscopes and summaries about the parts of the con we weren’t able to attend.

Mark your calendars for 2018, by the way – we’ve heard that ClexaCon intends to make this an annual event.

We can’t wait.

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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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Lexa Fangirl Shirt

Spoiler alert:  if you’re not caught up on The 100, or you plan to watch it but haven’t yet, this post contains spoilers through Season 3, Episode 7.

lexa-fangirl-greenOne of the shows we’ve been watching this year is The 100. It’s an interesting post-apocalyptic genre show that explores themes about how humanity can live on Earth and with each other.  It explores how humans fall short, the ways in which we fail each other, asks questions about how far we should go to survive, shows how we are capable of committing stunning atrocities, and illustrates how we sometimes live in moments of beauty to overcome great challenges against all odds.

Like any good TV show, it has really compelling characters. We loved the character of Lexa, the Commander of the Grounders, and the slow buildup of her alliance, friendship, and eventual romance with Clarke. We were shocked and devastated by Lexa’s death from a stray bullet mere seconds after finally consummating her relationship with Clarke in “Thirteen,” which was episode 7 of Season 3.

This is an all-too-familiar trope for LGBT characters in TV shows who finally attain a moment of happiness – they’re often killed right afterward. We’ve seen way too much of it in our TV-viewing lifetimes. It happens so often that it’s referred to as Bury Your Gays, and Dead Lesbian Syndrome. A factor in why this particular death was so devastating is that the show executives had promoted the show as LGBTQ-positive and had proactively sought interaction with and support from the LGBTQ fanbase. Lexa’s death felt like a betrayal of that outreach.

Other people have written great summaries and analysis about this situation so rather than us repeating what they’ve said, go check them out:

Lexa was awesome. She did what no other Commander before her was able to do – unite the 12 clans in peace. She also was able to overcome her pain and trauma from losing Costia, and set aside the teachings of Titus that love was weakness. She opened herself up to loving Clarke, and to changing the brutally pragmatic survival ethos of the Grounders. When she said to Clarke “You were right, Clarke. Life is about more than just surviving,” echoing back Clarke’s words to her, that felt like it was a turning point – both for her personally and for the future of their people. For humanity.

Except, of course, that she died soon afterward.

It hurts that she died the way she did. It also hurts that this tired trope played out yet again right in front of our eyes. It reminded us of countless other pointless deaths of LGBT characters. And it hurt fans of the show who had a complex, strong lesbian role model ripped away from them yet again.

That’s why we felt compelled to make a shirt in tribute to Lexa. We’ll donate 50% of the proceeds from our Lexa Fangirl Shirt to the Leskru fundraiser for The Trevor Project to support Trevor’s crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth. The response from fandom to make something positive from something negative has been amazing to witness and we want to help. We also want to make something for fans to show their undying support for Heda and what she meant to us.

Click on the image to order your shirt, tank top or sticker

Reshop, Heda. We will continue to fight, in your honor.