By Valerie Milano
Las Vegas, NV (The Hollywood Times) 3/13/17 – Young queer women often find themselves growing up in limbo, one in which LGBT rights are advancing at a pace faster than ever before, but the carefully carved out spaces for LGBT+ women are harder and harder to find.
As the lesbian bar dies out, LGBT+ representation on TV becomes ever more important for young women to see people who look and love like them. Commander Lexa of the CW’s The 100 became a fan favorite amongst all watchers of the show, but the steady build-up of sexual tension between her and Clarke had young LGBT+ women particularly invested in the show. Lexa’s death, soon after she had consummated her love with Clarke, sparked an outroar born of decades of unfair representation and a digitally connected, passionate audience.
Think pieces spread like wildfire, and “Bury Your Gays” moved from film school lingo to common vernacular for young LGBT+ women who were sick of never having a happy ending.
With a devoted “Clexa” fanbase, talk moved from sharing think pieces to hosting meet-ups around the country. Two women, Nicole from Ohio and Holly from Virginia, started organizing a meet-up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Within months, the meet-up had received so much interest they rented a convention hall in Bally’s, and sold out of VIP tickets in two minutes of their release. Panelists, actresses, and screenwriters signed on to create a packed three day schedule that was a dream come true: not just for Clexa fans, but for fans of couples on Angel, Person of Interest, Carmilla, Wynona Earp, and many who had never seen any of the shows, but who wanted to be a part of a solution for LGBT+ women’s representation in media and entertainment.
ClexaCon took place March 3rd-5th at Bally’s and Paris. The convention hall was only accessible through the traditional Vega casino, filled with cigarette smoke and heavy drinking. As the attendees approached the doors to the grand ballroom, however, the landscape changed. Suddenly, there was nothing but women holding hands with each other, cosplayers in full Lexa regalia, and young women bearing blue-green programs dashing from autograph session to panel.
It’s rare for a first year convention to have anywhere near one thousand attendees, let alone to have a specific population represented in such numbers. Attendees flew in from Australia, Denmark, the rural Midwest, Portugal, and most had never been in a space dedicated to queer women. The convention was open to all genders and sexualities, but for queer women who never had a bar or an event of their own, this was a space to unequivocally bring your full self. This was a space that felt like home.
The programming struck a balance between fan favorites like autograph and photo sessions with the actresses and screenwriters in attendance, and panels tackling serious issues facing the community, including trans and people of color representation in media and entertainment.
The convention also raised thousands of dollars for The Trevor Project and the brand-new Tegan and Sara Foundation, both official benefit partners for the weekend’s proceedings.
With national sponsors like Planned Parenthood, Caesars Entertainment, and Lesbians Who Tech, it was clear that the issue of LGBT+ women’s representation in media and entertainment is problem organizations are willing to invest in to solve.
For most attendees, ClexaCon was a both first step and a safe haven. A place where their beloved characters came back to life to remind everyone that life and love as a queer person can have a happy ending.