“ClexaCon” Review: Striving For Better Representation

Just over a year ago, The 100 audiences everywhere were shocked by the death of Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) in episode 307, “Thirteen.” But no one was as shocked as the LGBTQ community. The community felt the series’ showrunner queerbaited viewers into thinking Lexa and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) –AKA Clexa– would be safe and happy all season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As soon as the ladies got to be open about their feelings for each other and consummated their relationship, Lexa was killed by a stray bullet. And not in a creative way or a way that would help propel the story forward, she was just killed for dramatic effect in a way that fell into a commonly used trope.

The effects of that episode rippled through the queer community faster and stronger than anything ever seen before. Fans quickly came together and raised over $160,000 for The Trevor Project as part of the LGBT Fans Deserve Better campaign, but the community felt that wasn’t enough. A group of fans effected by Lexa’s death came together and planned a convention different from any ever seen before.

The convention was designed for LGBTQ women and queer women of color who have felt underrepresented in television and other forms of media. The convention was to be called ClexaCon — in honor of Clarke and Lexa’s relationship — and was scheduled for March 3-5 at Bally’s Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. OMFGTV was among the con-goers as part of the press at the convention, and we have a lot to say about it.

When ClexaCon was first announced almost a year ago, I’ll be honest and say I was very skeptical. It had all the makings of a good con–a good location, amazing guests, and some awesome artists–but it also had the potential to be a total flop. Fortunately the con was everything but a flop, even attracting the attention of actress Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) who attended the convention as a guest the final day. The event attracted over 2,000 people–some fans of The 100 and some not–who came together to show their support for their community and their love of queer entertainment.

Some of the guests that attended and spoke on panels included Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, Emily Andras, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and Kat Barrell, Zoie Palmer and Rachel Skarsten, Ali Liebert, Christin Baker, Gabrielle Christian, Mandy Musgrave and Aasha Davis, Alice Wu, and dozens more. Each day was packed with panels from the guests, as well as autograph and photo sessions with several of them.

The majority of the panels revolved around the LGBTQ community and how they are under and misrepresented in the media, with many queer stories ending poorly for the queer characters. The message of the whole convention was ‘Representation Matters’, and the majority of panels focused on how we can shine a positive light on queer characters and queer content creators to change how they are represented or portrayed. It also showed that there is a demand for this kind of content on television.

Being a first-time event, not everything ran as smoothly as planned. There were long and unorganized lines to get into the main room for the larger panels on the first day, but the organizers of the event learned from it and quickly remedied the situation on the second day by adding a queue for attendees to wait in. Due to the number of high-profile actors and creators in attendance they had a jam packed schedule for autographs and photos that made it easy for fans to meet some of their heroes, but the price to meet them was steep. Several attendees complained how the photographs were the most expensive ones they’ve ever bought at a convention, making it hard to decide who was worth getting a photo with and who you just hoped to run into in the bathroom to get a quick selfie with.

Communication between the organizers and press was also lacking; there was no schedule for when guests would be in the press room for interviews even though we were promised one, just an email sent out minutes before they were there. If you were busy in a panel or just not constantly checking your email you would miss the opportunity to speak with them. If ClexaCon comes back for a second year it would be nice to have a loose schedule for the press room, or at least a faster and easier way of alerting press when someone is going to be available for a chat.

Overall the convention was a huge success, most attendees leaving their friends–some new and some old–with a “see ya next year” instead of just a “goodbye.” Many people even saying they found their ‘family’ at this convention. The atmosphere was very positive and welcoming to all, there was no discrimination between fandoms and everyone got along. Most people in attendance just wanted to come together and feel safe in this space for LGBTQ women, and they absolutely did.

The convention was very inclusive to all, and their message of representation resonated throughout the entire event. There was nothing but love and positivity everywhere you looked, it was very different than what was just beyond the convention doors out in the real world. ClexaCon became a safe space for all in attendance to come together and share their experiences, and there is nothing more powerful and positive than that.

For more information, visit ClexaCon.com.

  • Olivia

    I’m so glad this was a success! Can’t wait to go next year!

  • vr11

    Anyone who’s complained about prices, has never been to another con. These prices we more reasonable than any other convention out there. Most photo ops prices at Wizard World Conventions start no lower than $45. And autograph prices as low as $25-$45, especially for stars like Amy Aker and Sarah Shahi are unheard of in the convention scene now a days.

  • Just a heads up, the link to LGBT Fans Deserve Better should actually direct to http://www.lgtbfansdb.com for the right org 👍

  • Nic Floyd

    I go to several cons a year and this was far more successful than I thought it would be. I was afraid I’d show up and either get mugged or see three people sitting huddled together on the floor, but it was far from.

    There was a feel, however, that none of the organisers had even been to a con before let alone ran one. The autographs and photos were relatively cheap but the timing was strange. 15 minutes assigned to taking photos is a little silly. Lines that were poorly marked….

    Beside the organization, the panels were spot on. I sat in 2 writing workshops (including Emily andras’s) and I’ve never enjoyed being in a non – celebrity – centric panel so much. Let me tell you, as someone who loves ships, these ship panels gave me life. At a regular con, queer ships are usually given little discussion time, but having an entire hour dedicated to talking about a ship??

    Everyone was so polite. The celebrities were so amazing and giving. Even in a gay stampede to get into the wayhaught panel, everyone was so friendly. Even the minions seemed genuinely happy to be working.

    Prices for drinks. Oh my. That’s another story. $8 for a small bottle of water. $12 for a drink? Mind you, this con was in a casino in which alcohol costs only what you want to tip the server. How did everyone not just sneak in drinks? Because we were searched at the door which was less a search for weapons as it was to make sure you didn’t bring in food or water.

    A convention that won’t let you bring in water? That is asking for trouble. Before next year, I recommend the organizers each go to one other con and take note on how things are handled.

    Still a solid B+ convention. A+ for a first time con.

  • Zair

    I agree. Some of the corporate owned cons have astronomical prices for autograph/photographs.