May. 27th, 2016

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I was going to rant about this on FB, but reconsidered, thinking that my journal would be more private. Last year I attended ConQuesT (an annual science fiction convention in Kansas City) for the first time, mainly because George RR Martin was one of the guests of honor. Mark Oshiro was the fan guest of honor. I'd seen them both on panels at Worldcons and thought it would be great to see them closer to home. I had an okay, but not great time, but sat in a couple of panels where the paternalistic subtle racist homophobia seemed a little close to the surface.

I hadn't planned on coming back this year, but they had Seanan McGuire and Nnedi Okorafor coming and I love their writing, so I went ahead and registered and made my hotel reservations. Later I found out that Mark Oshiro, a gay fan of color, was treated poorly by the 2015 con com and by fellow panelists on one of his panels.

Nnedi and Seanan had a panel together this afternoon. The moderator was well meaning but not particularly good at stimulating dialogue. He also had a bit of that mainsplainy attitude that obviously frustrated both women on the panel. I say obviously, but he was oblivious to it. The worst thing, though, was from the fourth member of the panel, an older white guy who had been part of the problematic panel last year with Mark Oshiro. He showed up late, apologizing but using the interruption to draw attention to himself. There were two empty seats at the table next to Nnedi, but instead of sitting next to the black woman he dragged a chair to the side of the table so he could sit next to the moderator, the only guy. Then the late panelist persisted in pronouncing Seanan's name wrong until the moderator finally corrected him. It was a generally uncomfortable experience capped off by the jerk taking a left turn into Christian theology, wedging it into the conversation where it didn't fit at all.

I met Seanan in the hall later and told her I was sorry for the crappy panel but hoped the rest of the con went better for her. She was accompanied by a member of con staff who said that this was definitely going to be her last year working on the con. I won't be coming back either, I don't care what writers they bring in.

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