Flying into Vegas early on Friday morning, I really wasn’t sure what to expect–from the city itself or the ClexaCon convention, since it was the first ever of it’s kind. LGBTQ women have never had a space like ClexaCon before; a Con to call our own. For the fangirls, the cosplayers, the femme gamers and everyone in-between, ClexaCon was a safe space to revel in our passions.
The conference brought in a line-up chock full of some community faves like “Lost Girl’s” Zoie Palmer (Lauren) and Rachel Skarsten (Tamsen), “Wynonna Earp’s” Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly) and Katherine Barrell (Nicole), “South of Nowhere’s” Gabrielle Christian (Spencer) and Mandy Musgrave (Ashley), from “The L Word” and “Skirtchasers” Elizabeth Keener, from “Fringe” and “Suicide Kale” Jasika Nicole, and from “Bomb Girls” and “Lost Girl” Ali Liebert. While the stars signed autographs and took photos with fans, the panels were filled with screenplay writers, actresses and experts from the LGBTQ community speaking on issues that impact us all.
As panelists held ground-breaking discussions on trans femmes having more representation on TV and film, facts poured out like it is estimated that it would take 700 years to gain equal gender representation on screen at the rate we are currently going (numbers from a 2014 study by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media). When asked from the audience about the difference between representation for trans men and trans women, the experts on the panel Trans Representation in Media responded that “Trans women are demonized, and trans men are forgotten in TV and movies.” This point brought home the message that people in the writing rooms need to do better by welcoming queer and trans people, Black and POC people, disabled people and women into the room to have more of a voice. As I left that particular panel discussion, I definitely was equipped with more information than I had walked in with.
GO’s very own Editor-in-Chief Trish Bendix covered conflict in community on one panel with Alex Berg from Huffington Post. During this discussion, they touched on the death of Lexa from “The 100,” which is where the convention gets its name (Clarke and Lexa were a beloved couple on the CW series until Lexa was killed off). After the show killed off this popular lesbian character last year, fans then worked hard to raise awareness about the “Bury your gays” trope which often plays out in television and movies and subsequently raised more than $162,550 for The Trevor Project.
Any actress who has played an LGBTQ character knows the dedication and loyalty queer and trans women fans have. This convention was proof of that, with it starting as an idea to convene a few hundred fans that quickly grew to over 2,200 attendees showing up at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Out actress Sara Ramirez, most known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres in “Grey’s Anatomy” came to enjoy the panel discussions all day on Sunday. The presence of these out actresses at the convention was felt throughout the crowds.
Got 4 hours of sleep 2 b at last day of @ClexaCon & so worth it! Loving it. ????✊?????️?❤
— Sara Ramirez (@SaraRamirez) March 5, 2017
The party on Saturday night (sponsored by GO) brought everyone together in one space to mix and mingle. With CB Glasser on the mic as singer and performer Margeaux brought down the house, glow in the dark wands waved with glee. Even after attending hours of panels and challenging discussions, ClexaCon-goers were not ready to stop. DJs Whitney Day and GoodBoy kept the energy high for the crowds until the sun came up – which seems to be the way most everyone does Vegas. The bright lights of slot machines never stop.
As with any new event, there will structural issues that need smoothing out. Hopefully next year there will be ClexaCon round two, and they will provide access to gender neutral bathrooms and invite more POC and nonbinary folks to be a part of the programming with compensation for all who provide time and labor. There was a clear effort from organizers to include POC representation on panels, however, a lacking in that same representation in leadership of the planning of the event. One question that was posited by Anita Dolce Vita of dapperQ was how are organizations with white people at the helm going to take it upon themselves to do better within hiring practices and bringing Black and POC people into leadership roles? This is an amazing question that so many organizations need to grapple with, and hopefully, change will come soon so that this question won’t have to be brought forward yet again.
ClexaCon brought forth so many important narratives and held space for queer and trans women who have never had a space dedicated to their passions before. From this convention, we hope that all the attendees found empowerment, community and inspiration to keep going after what you are dedicated to. Hopefully we’ll see all you fangirls again next year!