This past weekend I went to Gaylaxicon 2012, in St. Louis Park. It’s a wonderful little convention focused on Queer issues in Sci-fi and fantasy. By little I mean that there were just over 400 registration (though not everyone showed up). In such a small group, you get incredible amounts time with the people you want to talk to.
I like conventions – especially of the science fiction variety – because they are one of the few crowded places that I can go and still feel at home. (I have suffered from agoraphobia since high school and have had to come up with various methods of protecting myself so that I don’t end up stuck in my house – including dressing in my RenFest costumes to go shopping around Christmas time.) At the large conventions there are always small groups that I can be a part of and plenty of things to draw my attention. At the small conventions though, I get the chance to talk one on one with people that I would never get the chance to in any other situation.
That is what happened this weekend. One of the first people that I met when I walked into the hotel was a local writer I’ve seen at many local conventions. We have been aware of each other for years – she sits on panels and I interpret them, we also have at couple of mutual friends – but have never had that chance to talk to each other, by which I mean actually sit for a significant amount of time and hold a full blown conversation. This weekend changed that. We sat together while waiting for opening ceremonies to start and got to know each other.
I’m not going to say that we are fast friends now or anything like that. It’s just that now I know she has a bird who is at least as skilled as my cat at distracting us from our work. Next time we end up in the same place at the same time we’re going to know each other as more than just faces we see frequently. It might even lead to smaller conversations at those large conventions (more than just “Hi.” “Hey.”).
I also had the joy of being able to chat with all but one of the guests of honor in random small group discussions – you know the kind of thing that happens when people drop into consuite to get a bite to eat and a comfy chair to sit on. At the large conventions, the GoHs are always so crowded by people who are far more bold than I am, that I would get pushed out of the way to make room for their crowd. The nice thing about such a small group is that there just aren’t enough people to make for that kind of crowd. Not to mention that with so much access to the GoHs people don’t fee the need to crowd around them – they’ll get their turn.
Panels also have a different flavor at a small convention. Since not everyone goes to panels in each time slot, there are usually a lot of open seats in any panel. This is great when I don’t want to sit elbow to elbow with people that I don’t know. It also means that audience members have a much greater chance of having their comments heard too. Or in one case, early on Saturday morning, getting called up to fill in the panel. This was a direct off shoot of that conversation I mentioned earlier. The panel was all about local writers and my newly minted relationship with Kathryn Sullivan lead her to call me (and another writer) up to join them. I hadn’t been planning on sitting any panels, but it was fun anyway.
I came home with a stack of books and links to down load even more. I have email addresses to continue conversations about a variety of topics with new people. In all, I would call it a successful convention. Hopefully I will be able to budget to add this little convention to my annual list of conventions.