A week ago-ish, I was super excited to write an update to this post, telling the world things had improved. I was basically waiting until Holiday Stuff calmed down so I’d have time and also for the new FANACO Board to officially take over, because the old Board had miraculously come to the realization that Context needed a change in management.
I’m glad I waited to write that post. A week ago I was notified that the new FANACO Board was meeting with resistance from the old guard. Things were not going as planned.
To make a long story short, the chairman of the FANACO Board agreed to hand off the reigns to a new chair. When the time came, she changed her mind. Then she started threatening the new chair with legal action if he continued contacting her about the thing she had promised to do, so he’s now the former-new chair, for reasons that should be obvious. You can read the new chair’s statement about the whole mess (and his resignation) here. You can also read Steve Saus’s take on it here, which adds some extra details. And if you want to read a really incendiary but very cathartic post from the blogger who is probably still being blamed for a fiasco she didn’t cause, you can click here (NSFW, language. Fantastic, over-the-top, gloves-are-off language that makes me tingly).
Unfortunately, this probably means Context 28 is well and truly dead. It would be extremely difficult to put on a convention with only 9 months of preparation, even with volunteers. At this point, every volunteer I know personally has quit. There may still be a few people willing to work with the FANACO Board in its current state, but not enough to put on a convention of the caliber we witnessed at Context 27. And even if they can throw something together, will there be enough attendees to field a Context 29? I would guess not, since the people who were instrumental in increasing the convention’s badge numbers are no longer interested in volunteering.
I’m deeply, deeply sorry for the death of this convention. Not in the way that people are sorry when they’re responsible, but sorry in the way of someone who has watched something terrible happen, and was powerless to stop it, and wishes she’d thought of the right thing to say or do that would have fixed it. Context was my favorite convention. It is horrible to watch something you love die a flailing, embarrassing, very public death, especially when that death could have been prevented, and especially when that death hurts so many of your friends. But sometimes the things we love can’t be saved. Sometimes they’re so sick, we’re better off letting them go.
I’m especially disappointed not to be meeting and learning from Chuck Wendig and Ellen Datlow, the scheduled Guests of Honor for Context 28. The disappointment threatens to crush me, actually, if I think about it too hard, so I’m choosing to focus on other things.
I’m choosing to focus, now, on the exciting possibilities the death of Context opens up for a convention to rise from the ashes. I’m choosing to focus on the friendships strengthened and forged in the flames of this fiasco. I’m choosing to focus on how glad I am that I made every second of Context 27 count, since it will likely be the last one I ever attend. I’m choosing to focus on how much more difficult it will be to get away with sexual harassment at a convention thanks to all the people who stood up and said This Is Not Okay.
I’m choosing to focus on all the messages of support and solidarity I received since making that blog post way back in November. I was terrified I would be flayed alive by trolls and people with misplaced loyalty because of that blog post, but it never happened. In fact, quite the opposite was true. I was flooded with tweets, text messages, emails, and Facebook comments in support of Team Harassment Policy Enforcement, letting us know that if we weren’t attending Context 28, neither would legions of other writers. I can’t tell you what a relief that was, what a bulwark, just to know we were heard, and believed, and maybe, despite the echo chamber of the FANACO Board telling us we were being petty and vindictive, that actually we were in fact doing The Right Thing, for The Right Reasons.
I have never been prouder to be a member of fandom, or the writing community. I’m so lucky to have you as my friends and contemporaries. We may not be able to change the world, but together we can change our little corner of it, making fandom safe for all of us one convention at a time.
So, thank you. Keep being awesome, and let’s see where this crazy ride takes us next, okay? I’m in if you are.
Somehow this screencap from Legend of Korra seems really appropriate for this moment.