This weekend I’m at a GLBT Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention called Gaylaxic0n. It’s a national event, and it’s being hosted in Minneapolis this year. It’s a smaller, more relaxed convention; I’d guess there are about 300 attendees tops, and there are three panels per time slot. Guests of Honor include Gary Russell, Lyda Morehouse, Kyell Gold and Barbara Schulz.
There’s a pretty decently sized and stocked gaming room. I’ve played 7 Wonders twice and was introduced to a new (for me) strategy game called Strange Synergy. I’m hoping to get a group together to play a few rounds of Zar, maybe some Cards Against Humanity, and to get someone to teach me Munchkin before the con is over.
My artsy B&W photo of the Strange Synergy game play.
I’ve sat in on three panels so far: Trans and Gender Exploration, which is described in the guide as “Examples of good and bad characterizations in speculative literature, film, and television.” One of the moderators compiled a list of all of the referenced works at blog.outeralliance.org
Next up was a live recording of Film Confessional Podcast, which is run by a group of five movie geeks and has an emphasis on queer themes and representation in film. And…HOLY CRAP IT’S ALMOST SIX O’CLOCK!
[Runs away from the computer to check on the art room bids that she placed a few hours ago. Lingers possessively as the clock ticks down. 3...2... the art room volunteers let out a cheer and call "Pens down! Everyone out! Come back tomorrow to pick up any art you've won!]
Okay! I’m back!
I just won two fantasy prints and an “Elven Water Pitcher”. Sweeeeeet.
Anyway, let’s get back to Film Confessional Podcast. At the panel the podcasters discussed some of their early queer cinema experiences, and some of their favorite films. Some of the films mentioned included (I’m not doing links because I don’t have time – the banquet starts in 12 minutes!):
- Come Undone
- The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
- The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love
- Making Love
- Torch Song Trilogy
- Doing Time on Maple Drive
- Go Fish
- But I’m a Cheerleader
- Victor, Victoria
- Beautiful Thing
- Peter’s Friends
One interesting thought that was put out there during the panel was that we may be entering into a new phase of queer cinema. Being gay is more accepted in the places where queer film is being made, so we’re seeing fewer coming out stories and starting to retire some of the old tropes like the campy drag queen, the evil gay, the suicide/self-harming gay. Hooray! Now we’re seeing more gay and lesbian characters who don’t struggle with their sexuality within the story that they’re part of; they just are gay.
And the most recent panel that I attended was Lesbians: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which was a panel discussion of lesbian characters and how realistically they are being portrayed in SF/F and comics. So many references of Good, Bad and Ugly. I know I missed a bunch, but here’s what I did get. If you feel like sharing your favorite in the comments, please do!
Examples of Good Representations (as described by various panelists):
- Silverglass – J.F. Rivkin
- The Cage – S.M. Stirling
- The Shattered Chain – Marian Zimmer Bradley
- The Dyke and the Dybbuk – Ellen Galford
- Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories
- Promises, Promises – L-J Baker
- Santa Oliva – Jacqueline Carey
- Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison
- Black Blade Blues – J.A. Pitts
- Ash – Malinda Lo
Examples of Bad and/or Ugly (as described by various panelists):
- Lair of the White Wyrm (the evil vampire lesbian)
- Houston, Houston, Do You Read (denial of lesbianism in all female society)
- The Gate to Women’s Country (denial of lesbianism in all female society)
One of the panelists had an awesome idea for a creative writing game/exercise. Vintage lesbian pulp fiction: We all agree the stories themselves SUCK (not to say that they didn’t have their place in providing a lesbian presence in literature – that’s an entirely other panel – but in these stories the lesbian always suffers a violent crime, tries to convert the innocent good girl, ends up being a criminal or dies old and single), but the book covers are fantastic and full of potential! So pass out the books to a group and write NEW stories, using the book covers as a starting point. LOVE.
Okay – off to dinner and a big gay cabaret! Cheers!