Every year that I attend one of the big SF&F literary cons (Worldcon and World Fantasy Con) I can't help thinking of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. It does a brilliant job of illustrating the complicated relationship between fans and the creative people whose work they adore. I relate to it quite a bit--not the Penny Lane character, the William Miller character. I'm not a critic. In this metaphor, I'm one of the rock musicians. However, I often feel like the outsider, observing. Of course, pretty much all writers are outsiders who observe others. It's the basic how and why of what we do. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I can't bring myself to drink very much in public spaces.
Every convention has its unfortunate incidents. Any time you get a large group of people together, chances are, someone is going to be unclear on the concept of boundaries. Our society doesn't do boundaries very well. Still, I always come away from these conventions feeling more inspired than not. I'm fortunate in this, I feel. I've learned to mentally shield myself. I've also learned to handle sexist panels on which I'm the only woman. (Yes, that happened.) In fact, I like to think I was channeling Helen Mirren.
I'm at the point in my life where I feel it's important to handle those situations in a way that draws attention to the problem and makes people think about what they're saying when they make statements like "It's impossibly improbable that a starship be crewed with only women. Come up with a believable reason for this impossible thing happening in a movie!" I've learned to gauge the audience and the panelists. For me, the audience is more important than schooling my fellow panelists. Change is more likely to happen if the audience is made aware of a problem. So, when a woman on the front row said, "Oh, I don't know. Is it anymore impossible for us to have starships crewed only by men? I mean, we see that all the time, don't we?" I knew then I had permission to take the gloves off. So I did, and good times were had. Mind you, I did it with humor as Helen Mirren does. (And afterward one of the male panelists who had put me down actually leaned over to tell me he liked my sense of humor.)
All in all, Worldcon was wonderful. It had its dark moments. Let's be clear. Let's also be clear that overall, the con staff handled the situations that inevitably come up very well. The Hugo Awards made some very appropriate changes and well-deserved winner selections too. However, the good fight isn't over. This is only the start. There's a great deal of work to be done. Non-WSMs need to be made safe in SF convention-dom--that is, everyone else who isn't a WSM. If POCs don't feel welcome, we (the SF community) are made less because we cannot benefit from their experience and talent as we do WSMs. The same is true of varying genders, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. The more each group is made to feel welcome and included, the more we learn about the human condition.
And SF and F is, at its heart, about the human condition.
 I was very nearly assaulted once at a big party. My husband happened to walk in at just the right moment, thank the Gods. Ever since then, I very carefully regulate my alcohol intake. Yes. I know this doesn't control the behavior of others. (Being sober didn't prevent an asshole from grabbing my breast at WFC.) But it does mean I've a higher chance of getting away. I'll take that.
 Except when it involves barriers to persons considered "unworthy" of opportunity. <sarcasm font>Some animals are more equal than others, am I right lyssavirus rabies virus infected adolescent canines?</sarcasm font> White straight males aren't taught what boundaries are. In fact, they're taught to violate the boundaries of others at every opportunity. Doing so is considered "manly" and "brave." All others are trained to permit this. It's the system of oppression re-inforcing itself in our collective brains.
 I suspect the moderator was less thrilled as I got the impression that he'd wanted to create serious scientific reasons for obvious SF movie plot holes. IMHO, you can do both. Both can be entertaining and educational. That is, after all, the point of the convention. Yes?
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.