Have you ever wished their was a convention focused on queer women and the entertainment we love? Well your prayers have been answered. Next month, ClexaCon, the world’s largest LGBTQ women’s entertainment convention, will return for it’s second year. Hosted at the Tropicana in Las Vegas on April 5-9, the convention will feature celebrity and creator panels, workshops, parties, a film festival and more! The event celebrates an promotes female LGBTQ characters in movies, TV shows, web series, books, and comic books. Whether you are a fangirl, a creator, an activist, or all of the above, ClexaCon offers something for everyone.
I recently spoke with with Danielle Jablonski, one of the founders of ClexaCon, about the origins of the event, some of this year’s highlights, along with the importance of LGBT inclusion in media and the community. An audio recording and a transcript of the interview are below.
|Delina Roberts:||Today, I’m speaking with Danielle Jablonski, one of the founders of ClexaCon. Welcome and thank you for speaking with me today.|
|Danielle Jablonski:||Thanks for having me on.|
|Delina:||My first question is kind of the obvious question. What is ClexaCon?|
|Danielle:||ClexaCon is a media and entertainment convention for LGBTQ women and allies and what that really means is that we are an event like a Comic-Con, but specifically around issues about LGBTQ women and representation on screen.|
|Delina:||Excellent. I think the history of this con is kind of interesting. People who aren’t familiar with it probably wonder why it’s named ClexaCon. Can you explain that?|
|Danielle:||Sure. Originally, the idea for the event came from the TV show The 100 and when one of the characters, Lexa was killed off and there was a lot of sadness and anger around how that character was killed off the TV show, and we were originally going to put together a kind of a small event to celebrate those characters, and those characters are Clarke and Lexa, and their ship name was Clexa, hence ClexaCon. Originally, it was going to be a small event around those characters specifically, but as we started planning and as 2016 progressed, there were so many queer female characters killed off TV, like one or two every single week in one period, that we felt that we really wanted to put on an event for the larger community rather than fans specifically of that show. So we broadened the scope and now, it’s an event about all LGBTQ representation on TV, film, comics, books. If there are queer female characters, we’re talking about it and if there aren’t, we’re talking about why they aren’t and how do we get more representation.|
|Delina:||Yeah, I remember social media kind of blew up the day that Lexa was killed off that show. It was quite disheartening.|
|Delina:||It’s great. You put this event together with a couple of other women. Is that correct?|
|Danielle:||Yeah. There are three of us who are the directors, but we have a team of amazing people who help make this happen. We definitely couldn’t put on an event of this size without having a solid team. There are about 16 of us this year who are working on it consistently and then, we have the team of over a hundred volunteers during the convention who help make things run smoothly.|
|Delina:||That’s great. I was reading through your website and looking at all of the different panels and workshops and activities, and I was really blown away by how many different kinds of things that you have both in terms of speakers as well as parties and that kind of thing. Can you talk a little bit about all of the activities that are going on?|
|Danielle:||Yeah. There are so many activities going on. We basically have five days jampacked full of events. We kick things off on Thursday. We have pool party. We have speed friending because a lot of people come to the event by themselves and we have people from around the world coming by themselves so we have an event where people can actually meet each other and make some friends. Then we have our official pre-party, badge pick-up party and then, we kick into the full on convention mode for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And all day on each of these days we have main stage panels with actresses from shows like Legends of Tomorrow, The Bold Type, Lost Girl, Wynonna Earp as well as three or four other panels happening at the same time on everything from diversity in comics, representation for trans people, for bi people.
I’m actually kind of blanking on all the panels we have because we’re doing the schedule right now and there are like over a hundred of them, and they’re all kind of messing up my head, but we have panels on so many different topics for so many different members of the community. And we also have a whole range of workshops around screenwriting, writing for TV, production, illustration, podcasting, creating a YouTube channel, all sorts of educational things, too. So that people can actually come in and learn some hands on skills in all those different areas because part of what we really think is important is encouraging more queer women to create and become the creators; so that we have more queer women creating that content for the future.
As well as all those panels and workshops, we have all sorts of opportunities to meet celebrity guests with photographs, autographs, meet and greets. We have a charity event on Saturday night for a very small group of attendees. They have the opportunity to meet pretty much all the celebrities coming. We have a massive party on Saturday night with two or three DJs, I think we have now. Then, we have cool down events on Monday, more pool stuff, and hanging out, and hanging out with all your new friends. It’s jampacked.
|Delina:||That’s a huge event. Your event is obviously for fans, but it’s also great that it allows people to learn how to create content and become content creators as well as just enjoying the stuff that’s already out there.|
|Danielle:||Yeah, we think that’s really important so we try to do a lot of that as well.|
|Delina:||I was also looking at some of the guests that you have coming and it’s a veritable who’s who of female-female ships, some of the actresses from really the most loved ships on TV and web series are going to be there. You’ve got Shoot from Person of Interest, WayHaught from Wynonna Earp, Doccubus from the Lost Girl, and a whole lot more. Can you talk a little bit about the celebrities that are going to be there?|
|Danielle:||Yeah. We’re really excited to say we have so many celebrity guests, so many amazing women who are queer actresses or who portray queer characters in TV and film. There are so many. I’m not going to name them all off, but please go check out our website. There just is an incredible line-up of people this year. We’re really lucky that so many people wanted to come, and participate, and be able to engage with their fans.|
Some of our most beloved ships will be at ClexaCon.
|Delina Roberts:||Yeah, it’s amazing, the talent that you got together for this event. I was really impressed. I’ve noticed in watching some of these actresses talk about their roles, sometimes it feels like they’re almost the biggest fans of their characters and their ships. Do you get that feeling, too?|
|Danielle:||Definitely. Some of the actresses are just so incredible with their LGBTQ audiences. There are a couple of people who last year who were on the panel were talking about how as people who do not identify as part of our community, they feel such a responsibility to do a good job with their characters, and talking about the research that they’ve done, and how much time and energy they really put into creating good representation, and taking feedback from fans and interacting with fans. It’s really awesome to see that and hear them talk about that.|
|Delina:||Great. You’re offering a lot of perspectives from behind the camera as well as. I know you’ve got some notable show runners and directors and producers that are going to be there sharing their thoughts and experiences as well.|
|Danielle:||Yeah, that’s a really cool part of the event, I think, is hearing from the people behind all of these shows and talking about why and how they’ve been able to put in queer characters and create good representation for us, and just listening to them talk about their processes and also, watching them as they take feedback from the audience, too. One of the show runners we had last year attended one of fan panels and was like, “Tell us, how do we do better for you as a community?” That’s really a cool thing as well.|
|Delina:||Great. I know you mentioned a little bit earlier, talking about promoting inclusion and diversity, and that seems really important not only in us being represented better in mainstream media, but also, how we’re represented even within our own community, and making sure that we are being inclusive as a community of all of the different parts of the LGBTQ spectrum. Can you talk a little bit about how that’s important to you?|
|Danielle:||Yeah, absolutely. Diversity within our community is incredibly important. While we’re all fighting for LGBTQ representation on our screens, there are parts of our community that have never had good representation on our screens and are still struggling to see themselves at all. We’re making sure that we have room for people to have those discussions and talk about their communities, how they identify, and the kind of representation they want to see of themselves on the screen. This year, we’re really pushing hard to have more panels around queer women of color. Talking about queer women of color encompasses so many different people, so allowing space for people to talk about their communities and their backgrounds and about the characters they have or haven’t seen on screen, and what they want to see on screen.|
|Delina:||Excellent. I noticed there’s sort of a philanthropic element to ClexaCon, too. You’re partnering with Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. What does that organization do and how is ClexaCon going to be involved?|
|Danielle:||The True Colors Fund works to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. This is something that is definitely close to our hearts. We’re raising money for them through a couple different events, but our main charity event is called Cocktails for Change. It’s a Saturday night event where we bring together all actresses and a small group of attendees, and the beneficiary of that event this year is the True Colors Fund.|
|Delina:||How can people find out more about ClexaCon and buy tickets if they want to attend?|
|Danielle:||The tickets are available on our website at clexacon.com, that’s C-L-E-X-A-C-O-N.com. We’re also all over social media so you can get lots of information about us on Twitter (@clexacon), Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. Just search for ClexaCon.|
|Delina:||Excellent. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.|
|Danielle:||Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.|