What did I learn about the science fiction and fantasy community by going to this convention? Like any community, ours is kind and beautiful, but broken and imperfect. We’re going through some tough times. Often challenges to the status quo, especially those held valuable by men, will result in abuse. Kaffeeklatsch signups are terrible and need to be reconsidered. There are actually people who will look directly at you multiple times in group situations and snub you with no regrets and no one will say anything to them because they’re more important than you are. Many important conversations happen at the bars of various conventions. White men will ruin the end of a great panel by mansplaining to the women/POC panelists. Serious conversations and debates will spring up in the middle of a hallway. Everything feels a little surreal. If you’re me, in almost every new social situation you will find your personal Justin Landon and metaphorically cling to him because he makes you feel accepted and safe (you can’t have mine; I’ve claimed him). And, perhaps most importantly for me, I learned that empathy is easier in person, and being online can distort the picture you have of other fans if you forget that there’s a human being on the other side.
Renay on community.
I’ve only very recently been attending cons, mostly because I am painfully shy in real life, and I needed to have a professional-context excuse (i.e. having published a book) to force myself to get out of the house and socialize. It took a few tries, but I ended up meeting some amazingly awesome people, to the point where I spent pretty much all of the last Conflux at barcon (and had a great time while I was at it).