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Loncon: Fan Activism
Despite making it a four-panel day, I asked to be added to this because it specifically mentions Con or Bust and it sounded really interesting. And it was!


Fan Activism takes many forms: campaigning for wider representation for people of colour in media (racebending.com); performing charitable acts inspired by celebrities (Misha Collins's therandomact.org); pushing for films to be made (Dredd 2, Serenity 2, Xena: The Warrior Princess), organising charitable funds to enable fans to travel to conventions (TAFF, GUFF, Con or Bust), expressing political discontent (Anon/V for Vendetta, The Hunger Games salute in Thailand). The different kinds of fan activities and how the activism is undertaken varies depending upon the community and desired outcome. In this session people experienced in and knowledgeable about fan activism share their practices with anyone who is interested whether for curiosity's sake or because they wish to be an activist.

Crystal Huff, Eylul Dogruel, Kate Nepveu

Crystal does lots of con-running stuff, including chairing Readercon during this and working on Helsinki's bid for the 2017 WorldCon. Eylul was involved in the Gezi protests in Turkey. I run Con or Bust and am on the Readercon safety committee that was formed as a result of the above link.

I am giving myself half an hour to do this before I get lunch before my next panel, so this will be short. I always welcome corrections and additions, but particularly here since I will be specifically referencing personal experiences described by the other panelists.

Eylul talked about how pre-existing fannish skills were employed in the Gezi protests, particularly by two sets of fans: football fans, who used their skills both in mobilizing and coordinating large groups of people and in, uh, being hooligans and resisting the police; and media fans, who raised Western awareness and sympathy by reshaping the narrative on Twitter with gifs and jokes and so forth. (Yes, Eylul acknowledged the uncomfortableness of having to use Western media properties like _LotR_ in this endeavor.) The media fannish stuff also extended to cosplayers at the protests and graffiti and so forth, which also helped keep people's morale up in scary times. The mass protests also improved people's awareness of and respect for each other: football fans stopped shouting slurs that involving denigrating prostitutes, the next year's Pride was the biggest ever, things like that.

Crystal talked about doing activism with cons: how it was important for crafting the Readercon statement linked above to give people time to express their feelings and clear the air so that they could turn to the details of the statement; how cons need to take visible action to support their principles, like the Helsinki bid sending a group to march in Pride there and heavily promoting it on Twitter; how cons need transparency about their workings and decisions and to stay on top of public relations and announcements in social media.

I talked about how you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and how you can be an activist without mass protests or running conventions (not that I think the other panelists disagree!). I would be terrible at conrunning because meetings, but I knew I could do Con or Bust because I'd done a very much smaller-scale thing before and I had models of online auctions from other people in my online fannish community. I also talked about transparency, especially since I was receiving and distributing money, and how people are often very glad to help out . . . if you just ask. ("Just," I know.) I mentioned knowing the landscape so you don't unknowingly overlap existing efforts.

We all said to ask other people who are doing stuff you admire! Odds are extremely good that they'd be delighted to offer suggestions and there's no need to reinvent the wheel. And, as always, it's important to accept criticism thoughtfully, to be prepared to adjust how you do things in response to actual reality, be aware of intersectionality, and be aware of your own resources and whether existing organizations are fixable or need to be abandoned.

And now my self-imposed time is up. I always love comments and questions, but I particularly welcome them here--at any time!--or in email, knepveu@steelypips.org .

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