My students tell me about the con. They ask for my help to present with them. Two queer students of color, an Asian-American, and an African-American, they are the experts, but I am the one with the degree.
The second year, Stephanie Beatriz joins my panel. Then she wears the shirt that says what I internally seek, “ROOTING FOR EVERYONE LATINO.” Two PhD’s, a producer, a journalist, a future legal scholar, and an actor speak with each other, Black, Latinx, Native, and Asian-American, about what it means to be on/behind the screen.
A year later invites another conversation. ClexaCon, the convention my students, the aca-fans, shared with me, wants to create a space for scholars and educators because we don’t talk to each other. Between research, teaching, and mentoring, how do we talk to each other about the queerness, about the utopic potentials of a hotel overwhelmed by people with their fan t-shirts disrupting gender, normalizing queerness for the weekend?
So I am the woman of color, with a specialty in activism and community-organizing, talking to fan experts about bringing educators and scholars into a convention to uplift each other, to read, cite, and teach each other. Because I know what my students were asking me to do when they asked me to be in the room. And as they move on, I remain invested in bringing in more, more of the 55% students of color from my university there. Not just to geek out about who’s in the room, who’s in the hallway, or the growing ways lesbian, bisexual, and other queer characters are on the stage, in print, or on screen. I want them to consider, if only for a moment, that they can make it to the other side--they can create, they can perform. They can change their role in the room. They, like the growing number of fans who come to Vegas every year, can take up the space to have the stories that give them life, that brought them to life, matter.