My ClexaCon 2017 Experience
(Before you read: I got pretty personal in this post. I could have beaten around the issue, but I have had a lot of people in the past message me that my story is a lot like theirs and if my honesty can help others that are struggling, it will be worth it.)
First off, I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude towards the people that made the convention happen. My experience is just one of hundreds of LGBTQ+ individuals that attended this convention, that is changed their life of for the better. As we all know there is a TON of stuff that has to happen bts, that we don’t know the full extent of, to make conventions happen. Like, I don’t even want to think about all the work it takes. I just want all of the people that had a part in making this convention happen, whether you were a staff member, panelist, guest, volunteer, etc. that your time, effort, and possibly sacrificing parts of your own con experience to make sure people like myself were able to enjoy it is so greatly appreciated.
As someone who has been known in the fandom to analyzed things and can ramble on and on for days, it might be a surprise to you that I am left at a loss for words to write about the convention. I can’t find the words to encapsulate what it meant to me and the feelings I was experiencing –not to mention the complexity of those feelings. I have tried to write this so many times, but then draw a complete blank on how to describe it.
If I had to describe what Clexacon was to me in one word it would be a sanctuary. It was a place where I felt safe and content. I felt hope and peacefulness spreading throughout my body each day I was there. The more I hung out with people, went to panels, or just observed everyone around me walking around the convention, the more and more I felt the weight of all the years of self-hate, repression, etc. lift from my body and a sense of clarity wash over me. I was legit feeling like Alex Danvers as each wave of repressed memory came to the surface and critically looking at my life. Going to the panels was also a big part of that process. I began to look more in-depth at the underlying reason of the severe self-hatred I felt for so many years, years of struggling with anxiety and depression, the eating disorders that almost cost me my life, the purposeful secluding myself from others, and the loneliness I felt even though I was in a room full of people came to the surface. I was trying to process all of these emotions at once and it was very scary. But, it was like a peaceful liberating panic? If that makes sense? It was finally confessing to myself everything that I knew for years, like completely confessing to myself…but then panicking about it. Because, it’s me and I’m a chronic overthinker. Lol. Each day I would get more and more courage to be myself, to push past all the years of internalized homophobia that made me feel worthless and ‘wrong’.
Being surrounded by openly gay people that were authentically happy and full of pride for being part of the LGBTQ+ community was palpable in the air and you couldn’t help but feed off the energy. As someone who unfortunately doesn’t have this is my everyday life, I was trying to soak all of it in and store it in my memories to access it when I went back to my world of homophobic close-minded remarks. Clexacon was a place where I could be my true authentic self, or at least try to be. My authentic self with it came out to nerding about fictional characters, stories, etc. that I can’t talk to people about in my normal life. Also, my authentic self when it came to being part of this community.
Now, onto the convention itself. I was fortunate enough to make it to the Badge Pick Up party due to my flight getting in an hour early, and the wonderful appalachiansprung for picking me up from the Las Vegas airport. I want to take a moment and sincerely thank her for offering to pick me up from the airport and making sure I felt safe. She knew I had massive anxiety about traveling and her compassion and willingness to help me really meant the world to me. She really helped start off my trip to Vegas on a positive note, and without her, I wouldn’t have made it to the Badge Pick Up party, which I actually really enjoyed. I was able to meet my friends I had been talking to online, been mutuals of, knew of, and meet new people. It was just so surreal actually being face-to-face with these people. These people that you are friends with, but society telling you they “aren’t friends” because you don’t physically hang out with each other and it is only online. But these people actually know you better than people in your “everyday life”. For instance, the first person I met was my friend PJ. The weird thing was is that I was in the process of messaging her that I was at the party, and just as I was about to send it, I look to my right and she was standing there next to me, not aware that it was me next to her. I stopped typing and then said “hi” and it was the first of many “omg! You ARE real” feelings I had meeting people throughout the convention. I really REALLY enjoyed talking with the people who came up to me and said they were followers of my blog. Seriously, knowing that there are actual people behind URLS and seeing your faces and hearing your voices was incredible. When I asked the people I met to show me what their URL and icon was, I was able to recognize most of you and your support and kind words meant more to me than I can say.
The convention itself was better than I had expected. It was actually my first ever convention so I don’t really have anything to compare it too, but it was just so wonderful. The turnout was wayyyyy better than I expected. Seeing everyone in the main hall during the larger panels was just incredible, as well as seeing the floods of people roaming around the convention floor. We all know there were people trying to cast doubt on this convention and basically said it was “toxic” and were basically trying to get it canceled. Well, I’m so glad that this past weekend proved them SO SO wrong. It was so cool going up and down the vendor rows and seeing the spectacular artwork. I did only get one piece of artwork from the convention and it was Pappurrcat’s newest Lexa vs. Pauna drawing and she signed it for me (picture at bottom of post). I was not expecting to see @immochiball there! It was such a pleasant surprise to see her there! I really love her Lexacoon/Lionclarke artwork and it was great to show my appreciation for all her hardwork and it was funny that she knew exactly what piece of Lexacoon/LionClarke artwork I was fangirling about. It was so great to meet other talented people in our fandom I’m a fan or and friends of, or became friends of. People like @critter-of-habit , @foomatic , @commanderlexaofthegrounders , @decalexas , @lingeringlilies , @shes-special , @rin-says , @damnlexa, @molliemashstash , @oh-i-got-dibs , and i’m forgetting so many people so I’m sorry if i forgot you! I met sooooo many new people that I just clicked with and they made the convention an even better experience. Many of them in this photo below (but many are missing):
I will never forget the people I was fortunate enough to meet, talk to, and/or hang out with. I loved walking around Vegas with people and exploring places. So, by the end of this convention I have come to realize so many things. Realize so many things about LGBTQ+ issues, the dire need for representation, and about myself. I realized that I’m not alone. Leaving Clexacon was so hard. I already posted that I had a breakdown on the last day after I headed back to my hotel room and had to say goodbye to the people i met. The people I wanted to spend more time, as they were helping me more and more each day with feelings that I do deserve happiness, that I’m not alone, that there is nothing wrong with me, that I have value. This weekend was life changing for me. Even though this post is now close to 1,500 words…I still have not been able to fully express the importance this convention had on me in this post. I’m just so grateful for the experience and the wonderful people I was so fortunate to meet and now call friends.
I do have a few regrets…and one of them is not taking enough pictures. I was kinda mentally preoccupied (if you couldn’t tell reading this post. lol) and forgot.