2016 Pre DragonCon Ruminations
Each year I like to take a few minutes to get in my head about DragonCon. It is such a huge convention that I’ve enjoyed attending for the past decade. It’s safe to say I have some feelings about it. I met my significant other through my love of costuming and posting them online. I met some of my best friends through DragonCon. Convention cosplay helped me get back in touch with my creative side.
It gave me back that piece of myself I’d amputated to conform to what I felt the world expected of me.
It helped me rebuild myself when my father passed.
It continues to give me focus and an outlet when everything feels like too much.
It feels so weird to be thankful for something that makes people look at me in confusion, but whatever…it is what it is.
So this year I made one new DragonCon costume. I went with the DC Comics Universe’s Red Lanterns, because if I’m a member of the Lantern Corp, I’m definitely going to be red (i.e. rage). I chose Bleez, both for the challenging costume and her strength as a Lantern. Her story is, of course, problematic. It is a rehashing of the rape as a motivator trope. What I do like about her is that she is no longer controlled by her rage and makes decisions that align with her beliefs, rather than blindly following. She’s fights for herself, and that is an important characteristic to me.
All that said, my costume is just ok. It’s my typical 10 ft away costume, in that from 10 feet away, it looks great. Don’t look too closely, though, because all the magic vanishes. It’s close enough, though.
I’ll admit, the pre-con buzz is a rollercoaster. I quickly vacillate between ecstatic anticipation and complete dread of the experience. I hate packing. I hate organizing. I hate how on point I need to be to get all my stuff ready. I live in never-ending fear that I’ll forget something, even though I’m 30 minutes from home and can leave at any time. I worry about finding food, getting sleep, and that my costumes will hold up. It’s terrible.
I can barely contain my joy. I can’t wait to see friends from out of town. The crowd will be electric. My photographer friends will be everywhere. It will be this whole other reality where I can say and do things that are unacceptable in “real life.” The costumes will be awesome, the celebs will be accessible, and I will be in the middle of all this amazing energy. It’ll be great.
And yet, geek conventions are one of the great bastions of patriarchy and white supremacy. I will see costumes that white people and men will think are hilarious but will be so dismissive of people’s suffering. Last year, someone came as Ebola, cuz it’s funny that thousands of people died in that outbreak. I’ll see people in blackface, cuz there’s always someone. Always. People will make rape jokes and be rude and dismissive of women. They will dress as trans people and think it’s hilarious. I will be marginalized and sidelined because I’m not thin or white or attractive by eurocentric standards. I will navigate a minefield of bullshit for days on end.
I’ll be embraced by my friends and convention family. I will meet new people and form new bonds. I’ll take great pictures and hang out and dance until I can’t stand up any longer. This tradition is the highpoint of my year.
So, yeah. I’m all over the place and while it’s not a bad thing, it’s anxiety inducing.
So here’s to DragonCon 2016! May it bring all the love and minimal bullshit of past conventions!