Queer Quest 12: Geeking Out and Out Geeking at ALA Annual

By Ashley R. Lierman

Since I (like so many of us, I’m sure) am still recovering and catching up from ALA 2015, I’m not going to do a full column this month. I am, however, going to do a quick recap of the geek- and queer-interest (and both) events that I was able to make it to. Not all of us can make it to the annual conference, and we definitely can’t all make it to everything at such a huge gathering, so here’s a brief review for folks who may have missed things.

Friday

  • GraphiCon Discussion Forum: Diversity in Comics: Launching from the #weneeddiversebooks and #weneeddiversecomics movements, this was a high point to start the conference on for me. The afternoon was split into 3 panels – one on gender in comics, one on queer representation, and one on race – but often one would branch out and tie into issues from the others, making for a more truly intersectional event and a lot of great discussion. Some great comics creators discussed their weariness of the “very special episode” approach to queer characters in comics, the differences in barriers to inclusion of queer characters between working indie and in the mainstream, the positive directions comics have been taking lately, and their fears that the industry might backslide on that issue in the future. I think the session was being recorded (though don’t quote me on that), and if you can get access to a recording, it’d be well worth it.
  • Roberta A. Kaplan’s opening keynote: As the litigator who brought down much of DOMA, Kaplan told a personal account of that victory, and connected it back to the victory of that same day. If there was a dry eye in the house, I didn’t see it.
  • ALAPlay 2015: If you aren’t a regular ALAPlay-goer and you like games, comics, or cosplay, I would strongly recommend it. In the two years I’ve been going it’s always been a blast, and I’ve discovered new tabletop games and made new friends. This year’s event seemed to be particularly huge, even though I had to check out early to make it back to where I was staying at a reasonable hour. If you’ve never played Dixit, though, it’s a fantastic game.

Saturday

Sunday

  • The Pride Parade: Yeah, did any of us actually go to any sessions Sunday morning? Sorry, presenters.

And, finally, just to bring us down…

  • There was some of this total garbage about the all-gender restrooms.Look, okay, everybody. If you really strongly believe there can be only two binary, non-overlapping genders for everyone to be crammed into and that it’s really important for people to conform to the stereotypical appearance of a “correct” one or the other, I strenuously disagree with you and I think your ideas are harmful, but if you have them privately to yourself, whatever, I guess. However, if you take it upon yourself to write public messages negating the possibility of other people’s identity, or to police where other people go and what they do in ways that are known to turn dangerous fast, based on your superficial impression of their appearance, that is hostile, aggressive, intolerant, and indeed violent behavior. Don’t ever do it, and if you see anyone else doing it, stop them. End of story.

Anyway. To end on a happier note: did you go to a session or event of potential interest at ALA Annual 2015 that isn’t listed here, or have other thoughts on one of the ones I did mention? Let us know in the comments!

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