ClexaCon takeover in Las Vegas - Queer Femslash Fans &(re)claiming spaces

Curator's Note

I attended ClexaCon in 2017 & 2018 as a fan and academic scholar. What struck me was how the otherwise heteronormative places such as the Tropicana Hotel was transformed into a queer place in the week where ClexaCon took place. Having so many queer women & non-binary folks together was something that I’d never seen before or since.

In fan studies femslash fans is generally a largely overlooked group & by characterizing femslash culture, including “The Gay Migration” on Tumblr & events such as ClexaCon I seek to explore how femslash fans differ from slash fans, both in motivation for being in fandom & how they (re)claim spaces online and “offline” in order to create & maintain a community/safe space for queer women.

Drawing on fandom history there hasn’t been a fully established ‘place’ for femslash fans since Xena -The Warrior Princess aired. The lack of attention toward femslash fans could furthermore be due to early fan scholars criticizing the portrayal of female characters in fanfiction & lack of strong female characters in general.

As the pictures in the video indicate, the motivational factors for the fans aren’t just to seek & enjoy content, attend conventions etc. because they like a specific genre/show but rather out of starvation to see themselves represented on screen as part of the LGBTQIA community.

Looking at the phenomena "The Gay Migration" I choose to define femslash fans as digital immigrants - with no space online for them, other than together as a group. ClexaCon could then be seen as the physical manifestation of the online community - as fans come together from all over the world, creating a safe-space, discussing queer subjects & migrating yet again together from panel to panel with queer content. If they’re indeed digital immigrants then the ‘batsignal’ at Tropicana’s facade could then be seen as claiming of territory - a symbolic action, positioning - where this is no longer *just* a hotel in Las Vegas. ClexaCon’s logo & the presence of fans transforms the hotel to a place the fans refer to as a ‘safe space’ for queer femslash fans. A place where they finally belong. 

Comments

Tanya Zuk's picture

Reclaiming space through fan pilgrimage

In popular culture and in academia, we often equate (metaphorically and literally) fandom as religion or having a religious feel. I’m thinking of fan conventions as being referred to as high holy days or going to “mecca,” or fan tourism as pilgrimage. I feel that there may be a connection between “Gay Migration,” fan tourism, and reclamation of space?

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