Last fall, as part of my other not-so-secret identity, I was invited to be a panelist at Geek Girl Con up in Seattle. It should not be any shock to even semi-regular readers that yes, I am a geek. I will happily deconstruct gender dynamics in Sherlock or discuss how Bryan Fuller uses food as a metaphor in all of his work (and don’t think for a moment that I don’t have that essay already in outline form inside my head).
And, if you fell for that clever little bit of shameless self-promotion up above and clicked the link to see what my not-so-secret identity could possibly be, you will understand that I am equally passionate about making geekdom open to anybody and everybody.
Friday night of the con was a welcoming mixer at a local beer pub. Now, in addition to my love of Sherlock and the works of Bryan Fuller, I love beer. So it was a natural fit. I was introduced to the fabulous Elsa E. Sjunneson-Henry, who runs the equally fabulous Feminist Sonar blog. We got to talking over a couple of milk stouts about our shared experiences with being disabled and part of the geek community. She mentioned she was doing a Geek Disability panel the next day and invited me to come hear it.
Now, I will briefly digress here to mention that my past experience with those panels has been…OK, you remember science project day at school. You had to have some sort of science project to show to everyone else, and then everyone got to quiz you about it. Now imagine that — except with me as the science project. *That’s* my experience with those sorts of panels.
But Elsa was nifty, and I had one milk stout, an amber, and a pumpkin ale in me, so I agreed to attend.
I will admit to more than a little trepidation when I sat down for the panel. I was primed to charge into battle, yelling ” I AM NOT YOUR GEEK SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!”
And instead, I got thoughtful dialogue that ran the gamut from bad media images of disability (Glee, to which I have alluded in the past) to good ones (Flynn/Walt Jr. on Breaking Bad, played by an actor with cerebral palsy). We discussed cosplay and disability, and why we will side-eye able-bodied people who “crip-play” (again, I have discussed this in regard to the Cherry Darling cosplay from Planet Terror). Here’s a short write-up of the panel.
The entire weekend was full of random, amazing things. That panel was just one among many. Because yes, there were people I met with whom I could deconstruct Sherlock. But there were also people there like Elsa who would not be anybody’s geek science experiment.
Geek is where you find your passion, whether it be for Sherlock, or beer, or swords. That weekend, I finally felt I had found my geek.