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This Queer Convention Wants More Lesbian and Bi Visibility In the Media

ClexaCon is trying to remedy the lack of media representation for queer women.

ClexaCon, a convention for LGBTQ women, launched following the death of one of the only queer women on TV, Lexa of the CW’s The 100. The character was promptly killed off following her on-screen relationship with another woman, Clarke. The convention was named in their honor and that of the unprecedented number of other queer women killed off in the 2016 television season.

The second 2018 event, held in Las Vegas, had 4100 attendees, countless celebrity guests, and panelists, and reached millions of people. Due to its massive success, the creators decided to host a pop-up event in London this November. The event will feature the likes of Jamie Clayton (Sense8), Briana Venskus (Supergirl, The Walking Dead), and Natasha Negovanlis (Carmilla).

Representation of queer women in media is notoriously lacking. The 2017 GLAAD Where We Are on TV Report found that broadcast television “included the deaths of an overwhelming number of lesbian and bisexual women characters.” The Bury Your Gays trope is far from over.

While LGBTQ representation is still underwhelming – and, in many cases, getting worse – new forms of media activism are fighting to increase positive representation of queer and trans people.  INTO spoke with ClexaCon co-founder Danielle Jablonski about her experiences with the conference and hopes for the future of queer and trans women in media.

How was ClexaCon founded?

We believe that it’s vital for our community to see positive representation of ourselves on screen and vital for people outside our community to see LGBTQ characters as normal, complex people that aren’t just stereotypes.

ClexaCon was created as a reaction to the unprecedented number of LGBTQ female characters killed off TV in 2016. One of the most publicised was the death of the fan-favorite character, Lexa, from the CW’s The 100. The convention was named in honor of the on-screen relationship between Clarke and Lexa (Clexa). For the first time, we saw media consumers loudly demanding better representation on an organized scale through social media. It was amazing.

The death of so many female LGBTQ characters and the attention that fans were able to bring to the Bury Your Gays trope led us to create an event that celebrates the characters we love and allows fans to come together from the around the world to celebrate our favorite stories from TV and film.

ClexaCon is more than just a fan event. It’s also for content creators to learn new skills and reach new audiences. At ClexaCon you can attend workshops such as how to use YouTube as a platform, how to create a web series, how to write for TV, and much more. We want LGBTQ women creating content, fighting their way into writers rooms and onto sets. ClexaCon was built to inspire its attendees.

 

Did you imagine ClexaCon would grow to be as big as it is today?

We had no idea! ClexaCon started out as a way to bring fans together to celebrate positive representation but as the idea grew and we got input from fans and creators we realized we had the opportunity to create an event that had a bigger impact. As well as bringing in actresses and filmmakers we added a full film festival, a comedy night, a large vendor floor full of art and LGBTQ-focused products, a party with top DJs, pool parties, and charity events. Our aim is to create a haven for LGBTQ women to come together as a community and enjoy a full festival of LGBTQ-centric fun.

 

With nearly twice the 2017 attendance, ClexaCon 2018 was the biggest yet. What was the most inspiring thing about the most recent convention in Las Vegas?

It’s always inspiring to see so many people from so many parts of the world come to Las Vegas to be part of a community that we’ve created. This year we had attendees from 43 countries and 49 U.S. states attend. Seeing people meet new friends and make new connections is truly a wonderful experience. We were also excited to see attendees who had met at the 2017 event return in 2018 with new content and projects that they were inspired to create after 2017. A number of people met at our first event and have since gone on to create their short films and web series together.

 

Following the huge wave of support from the 2018 event, the ClexaCon team decided to hold a London event this year as well. What do you hope the pop-up event in the UK will achieve?

We’re always asked to bring ClexaCon to people in other parts of the world who cannot make it to our Las Vegas event. We hope that by holding an event in Europe we’ll be able to help bring together people who can’t come to the U.S. but who want to be part of a positive LGBTQ women’s space, meet other LGBTQ women and learn from US and UK-based content creators.

We hope attendees leave ClexaCon London feeling empowered to create their own content and advocate for better representation in their communities. Television and film industries around the world need more diverse voices and LGBTQ women belong in those spaces, fighting for our stories.

Do you anticipate the responses to the event outside the US will be different than here in the States?

LGBTQ women from over 30 countries will be attending ClexaCon London so we know that it will be a diverse group of women from around the world. It will be a smaller more intimate event but we hope that everyone who attends leaves with the same feeling of community and hope and is inspired to keep pushing for better representation for our communities.

 

What do you hope the convention will inspire for future queer and trans media representation?

We hope that in the future there will be more queer and trans women telling their stories in all types of media. We’d like to see more diverse stories being told and getting the financial support and distribution they deserve so that more people can see those stories and people everywhere can see themselves reflected on screen in authentic ways.


Eli Erlick

Eli Erlick queer trans woman, PhD student, and director of Trans Student Educational Resources.

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