In 2016, viewers experienced one of the most brutal and heartbreaking seasons in television history. Characters were mercilessly torn from our screens through poorly conceived and clumsily executed demises. These characters, as it often goes, also shared one particular trait in common: being LGBTQ women.
While watching as LGBTQ female characters were killed off our television screens week after week, it was the fate of Lexa, a warrior, leader and fan favorite from The CW’s The 100 that led fans to say enough is enough. They began a revolution, demanding better representation across all media platforms for LGBTQ women. We were tired of being plot devices for ratings only to be discarded when our influence was no longer needed.
Through social media, groups began forming and the voices of the underrepresented became louder and angrier. We wanted better. We deserved better and we wouldn’t sit back and hope for it to happen. We would fight to make it a reality.
It was through one of these social media groups that the idea of ClexaCon began to form. A convention by LGBTQ women built from the ground up, for LGBTQ women. It had never been done before. ClexaCon would bring together fans and fandoms to raise awareness that better representation was needed. It would be a safe place for artists and academics to come together and discuss how we could, as a community, make the media industry listen.
As the idea grew and the word spread that we were planning the event, many people reached out wanting to help. The original idea was small - a gathering of perhaps 200 people, but as the idea spread and LGBTQ characters continued to be killed off our screens, the scope of the convention grew, along with interest from around the world.
The date set for ClexaCon’s inaugural event was March 3rd 2017, the one-year anniversary of Lexa’s demise on The 100. It seemed fitting to mark the event that sparked a revolution by allowing fans to gather, grieve and rally in a safe, inclusive space. The name was chosen to honor the relationship that ignited the drive in so many of us to make change happen.
In March of this year, ClexaCon opened their doors for its first year. Over 2,200 fans, eager for representation, made the trip to Las Vegas. With a host of actresses, directors, writers, artists and academics participating in panels across the weekend, vendors displaying LGBTQ-themed art and attendees coming from 41 states and 43 countries, it was clear from the moment the first attendees entered the convention area that our little dream was a successful reality - so much so that ClexaCon 2018 was a virtual certainty.
Why Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is the party capital of the country! It's also a destination city, close to the entertainment hub of Los Angeles and easy to get to from around the country and the world. Las Vegas also has a history of supporting the LGBTQ community and celebrating diversity so it seemed like a logical place to bring together thousands of LGBTQ women and allies to celebrate representation.
While our team is located all over the world, our home base is now in Las Vegas. Two of our team members made the move this summer. After spending so much time in Las Vegas over the past year, making connections and meeting people, it made sense to be in Las Vegas full-time. They’re loving the mountains, enjoying the city and looking forward to meeting more of the local LGBTQ community over the next year.
The Next Step
The biggest challenge we face is ensuring that our attendees feel safe and valued. Many of our attendees come from areas of the country and around the world where their sexuality is not accepted and, in some cases, do not have family or friends to protect them from the prejudices of the outside world. We wanted ClexaCon to be a haven. A place where no matter your background, religion, race, identity or sexual preference, you feel cared about and valued.
The feeling of being in a convention space full of people who were happy, excited and awed that the guests gave them so much of their undivided attention was a feeling to which nothing will quite compare. It was a sentiment we received in feedback for months after ClexaCon 2017 came to a close.
Whenever anyone creates a successful event, the goal to strive for it to go bigger. Better. Braver. ClexaCon’s 2018 team has taken that and the lessons learned from our inaugural year and ingrained them into our work ethic. We would love to see the brand continue to grow and expand. There is such a demand for quality LGBTQ entertainment and our community is eager to support it. We want the industry to step up and start including not only more, but better representation for LGBTQ characters and we want to be part of making that change happen.
Our attendees left ClexaCon 2017 inspired. Through writing, art, study and activism, they left Las Vegas with a determination to not only make the media industry listen, but to change the mindset of those who believe it is acceptable to keep our visibility at a minimum. We hope that with each continuing year of ClexaCon, more attendees will be inspired and more minds will be changed. We cannot continue to accept the bare minimum of representation. Our stories deserve to be told with respect and creativity, rather than falling back on old tropes. More LGBTQ women deserve the opportunity to tell those stories with the same respect as any other creative mind.
We look forward to ClexaCon 2018 with hope and excitement. With more guests, more attendees and a wider array of content, we want to ensure that anyone who attends, whether they are LGBTQ or an ally, leaves feeling that they are going back out into a world that they have the power to change and the unconditional support to do it.
ClexaCon 2018 will be held at the Tropicana Las Vegas on April 5-9, 2018. Check out our website at www.clexacon.com or follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/clexacon) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/