Diversity at SFF Conventions: What’s the Point?

A regular offering at most SFF conventions, these days, are panels discussing Diversity–amongst fandom, amongst convention staff, in movies, in books, you name it, there’s an angle for it. Whether we’re discussing handicap, race, or gender, there’s a panel about bringing more of “that” into some aspect of SFF.

There’s been a lot of push back about the trend. Some very nasty things have been said, and folks on both sides of the aisle have been threatened and harassed. A lot of misinformation is going around, a lot of “my friend says this so it must be true”, a lot of admirable but misdirected loyalty leading to exaggerated fights both on and offline.

I’m not in the center here; I’m a white middle class cis-female with no handicaps or illnesses beyond chronic depression and a tendency to get bronchitis in the winter. I’m not the one to talk in this arena. For a more detailed explanation of why I believe that, please check out The Brutal Truth Every White Feminist Needs To Hear“, “I Don’t Discuss Racism With White People“, and “Aph’s Guide To … Moving Over“.

I’m far more interested in finding out what the folks actually affected by this debate have to say. So I started asking around, wanting to dig deeper than the 45 minute “-Ism 101” stuff that is all convention panels can reasonably hope to cover. And I came out with some surprising answers.

I’m still taking answers, so if you want in on this series of posts, please do contact me (lioness at thescribblinglion dot com) and I’ll send you the starter questions. I already have queries out to several other folks, but have not yet received their answers.

The goal here is to provoke discussion, not to push proclamations of what must be done. I’m completely fascinated by the range of answers. I’ve chosen to change the names of all participants, in part to allow them to speak freely and in part to avoid having a reader’s personal knowledge of the speaker influence their responses to the answers provided. It’s hard to call a good friend out on their bullshit, after all, and a few of the responses here will undoubtedly provoke that reaction–again, on both sides of the aisle.

I have my opinions. I’m not afraid to voice them. But this series isn’t about me: it’s about the folks who are actually in the middle of what we’re arguing about. So out of respect, I’ll be keeping my mouth shut as much as possible, and simply encouraging readers to talk it all out. I chose The Scribbling Lion as a platform for these interviews in part for that reason, and in part because TSL aims to be about fandom, conventions, and community.

BE AWARE: I do moderate first-time comments; after that, your comments will go live without moderation. If that gets abused, I’ll put everything under moderation for the duration. IF YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE submitting your comments due to unexpected blacklisting or other server issues on my end, please contact me directly and I’ll do my best to resolve the problem.

ALSO BE AWARE: I allow open discussion from all angles, but NO personal attacks. You’re welcome to say “I completely disagree and this is why” — you may NOT say “you’re an idiot and I hope you don’t breed”. I will not tolerate insults or mudslinging. Stay on topic and don’t get personal. This can be harder than it sounds. I’ll give out a couple of warnings for near-misses.

Read the first installment of the Diversity Discussion here.

Please read the entire interview page before you look at this next link: if you want to know how each person identifies themselves as far as race/gender/orientation, I have a key here.