FlameCon’s ‘Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ Panel

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I attended (and loved) NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks. For more about FlameCon read my recap and check out the amazing cosplay.

My favorite panel at Flamecon was Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture. It was moderated by Charles Battersby (Astonishing Adventures) and the panelist included Jennie Wood (Flutter), Lawrence Gullo (Baritaria), P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics, Marvel and Boom).

Transgender Narrative

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Transgender narrative was a big part of the discussion. It’s to no surprise that the further a character is from being heterosexual, cisgender and white, the more they are misrepresented… if they are represented at all. A common and inaccurate transgender narrative is, “I am a man, what if I wanted to be a woman?” Lawrence Gullo suggested the following narrative instead, “I am a woman, what if no one believed me and I had to prove it to people my entire life.”

Sci-Fi & Gender

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Science Fiction is known to use aliens and androids as representations of LGBTQIA people instead of actual humans. This not only suggests that the creator views those groups as “The Other,” either subconsciously or consciously, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes about LGBTQIA people. Gullo suggests a way to combat this as a SF creator is to make humans LGBTQIA and gender fluid as well, not just the aliens.

Creators should also stop assigning gender to androids, especially self-aware ones. When you really think about it, it’s completely unnecessary, inaccurate and almost always reinforces gender stereotypes. Assuming that AI would have the same gender notions as humans is more than presumptuous, it’s pretty egotistical.

Positive Trans Media

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

The panel wasn’t only about the negative media representations of trans people. Steven Universe, Dragon Age: Inquisitions, and Saints Row 3 were all praised for being positive trans media.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisitions ran their script for a transgender character, Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi, by trans people and changed it based off their input.
  • Gullo shared an anecdote about his transgender friend who cried when she saw Stevonnie in Steven Universe because she identified with them. Although Stevonnie doesn’t have a gender and Garnet described their fusion as “a conversation”, the character has resonated strongly with genderfluid and trans people. 
  • In Saints Row 3, you can have a male voice actor for a female body and even go to a surgeon and change your sex at any point in the game. It’s completely up to the player.

When In Doubt, Ask

Dragon Age Inquisitions's Cremisius "Krem" Acclasi

Dragon Age Inquisitions’s Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi

Some advice if you’re a cisgender creator nervous about inadvertently misrepresenting a transgender character: When in doubt, ask. It isn’t a creator’s responsibility to make their work diverse, but it is responsible. Jennie Wood summed it up best, “We just want to see ourselves.”

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The Steven Universe Gems and their Metaphysical Properties

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It was midnight and I was in bed thinking about Steven Universe, as one does, and I began to wonder if there was a connection between the Gems in SU and the metaphysical properties of gemstones. I know I’m not the first fan to think of this, in fact, the Steven Universe Wikia lists Gem properties at the bottom of their profiles and makes note of any similarities. However, after digging deeper (he he) I noticed there are more connections than they mentioned.

I’m not very knowledgable in “healing gems” and I don’t necessarily believe/not believe in their powers, but I found the connection between the Gems and their properties fascinating. So fascinating that I wanted to research all of the Gems and their corresponding properties. Are some of these connections reaches? Maybe. But some are too strong to be a coincidence and I’m sure Rebecca Sugar and her team did this on purpose.

Disclaimers:

  • There will be Steven Universe spoilers in this post, especially about fusions.
  • I am not an expert or even very knowledgable in alternative medicine or crystal/gem properties.
  • The healing crystal meanings and properties are not prescriptions or healthcare information.
  • The metaphysical properties I’ve listed aren’t comprehensive, I included the properties I found relevant to the character.
  • The gem research found in this post came from Fire Mountain Gems, Best Crystals, Crystals and Jewelry, Healing Crystals for You, Healing Crystals and Steven Universe Wikia.

Singular Gems

Rose Quartz (Rose and Steven Universe)

Connection: Strong

Rose quartz is associated with all types of love, compassion and self-esteem; you can clearly see these qualities in both Rose and Steven. I also discovered that rose quartz is believed to help people develop strong friendships which made me immediately think of Steven and Connie’s friendship. They fused into Stevonie for Christ sake, friendship doesn’t get much stronger than that!

Rose quartz also carries energies of forgiveness and tolerance, enabling us to see the good in both ourselves and others. Steven embodies these qualities tenfold. He’s always the one to see the good in people, especially when it’s hard for others to see it, as he did with Centipeetle, Lapis Lazuli and Peridot.

The most interesting point I found was that rose quartz is helpful for dream recall and dream work. If you remember in the “Chille Tid” episode, Steven dreamt about Lapis Lazuli and was able to communicate with her in his dream.

Pearl

Connection: Moderate

Pearl is like a mother-figure to Steven (in addition to Garnet) and the inner glow of pearls is thought to tap nurture love. I also read that Pearls promote loyalty and no one can deny Pearl’s obsessive loyalty to Rose.

Amethyst

Connection: Moderate

The connection with Amethyst is an ironic one. Amethyst is known to be a stone of peace, sobriety and stability; which are words no one would use to describe the character. Amethyst stones are usually associated with the Greek/Roman god Dionysus/Bacchus, god of wine and intoxication. At first thought, this seems to answer why Amethyst is so impulsive and self-indulgent. However, the connection to the wine god is that amethysts actually symbolize sobriety. They were even carved into wine goblets to prevent drunkenness.

Looking at this information from a different angle, these qualities could be what Amethyst is striving for. We know her kindergarten origin is something that brings her shame and sadness. Amethyst is also the youngest of the Crystal Gems which accounts for some of her immaturity. She has a lot of growing to do, literally and figuratively. Perhaps when Amethyst is able to conquer her inner demons and mature a bit, she’ll be able to find some inner peace and stability.

Ruby

Connection: Strong

Ruby, Sapphire and Garnet have my favorite connections. Rubies and sapphires are closely related, having corundum as their base mineral. The iron pigment in the corundum makes sapphire blue, while the chrome element in rubies makes them red. The fact the Ruby and Sapphire are the Gems in a relationship is no coincidence.

Ruby is a gemstone of emotion, often associated with passion, strength and anger. We see these traits in Ruby’s emotional temperaments and overall emotional (and angry) attitude. She’s small but mighty, which we see when she shakes her cell and lifts Sapphire. Rubies have also been used to increase passion and romantic love which we see in Ruby’s love for Sapphire.

Sapphire

Connection: Strong

As you read in Ruby’s section, sapphires and rubies are related. Corundum is their base mineral and the iron pigment in the corundum makes sapphire blue, while the chrome element in rubies makes them red.

Sapphires were thought to dispel evil thoughts and to bring peace and amiability to its wearer, sort of in the same way she (literally) cools down Ruby.

Sapphire is a gemstone associated with intuition, clairvoyance, foreknowledge and wisdom. These are all attributes we see in both Sapphire and Garnet’s “Future Sight” ability.

Another testament to Ruby and Sapphire’s love is that sapphire is known as the stone of new love and commitment and is claimed to be useful in encouraging faithfulness and loyalty. What encourages faithfulness and loyalty more than fusion?

Lapis Lazuli

Connection: Strong

What I found most interesting about the stone lapis lazuli, is that it’s said to help create and maintain a connection between the physical and celestial planes. This instantly made me think of the episode “Mirror Gem” where we first meet Lapis. She was able to communicate to Steven who was in the “physical world” while she was trapped in the mirror.

Lapis lazuli is also known as a protection stone. She’s committed to protecting everyone by staying fused as Malachite in order to prevent Jasper from escaping or gaining control of Malachite.

Peridot

Connection: Moderate

Peridot the gemstone is associated with good luck, peace, and success. But in the show, Peridot has bad luck, fails often and is violent with the Crystal Gems.

The coolest fact I found about Peridot is that the stone is not only terrestrial, but it has also fallen to Earth from meteorites. Although she’s not the only Gem to pilot a space craft, she’s the predominant Gem in Steven Universe to do so.

Jasper

Connection: Weak/Unknown

We don’t know much about Jasper except that she has a temper and is prone to violence. The stone is known to bring balance, comfort, relaxation, grounding, protection. None of these seem to match with the character, but perhaps when we learn more about her, we’ll find some similarities.

Gem Fusions

Garnet (Ruby and Sapphire)

Connection: Strong

The connection between the stone and character are as strong as Ruby and Sapphire’s love. Garnet is known for love, loyalty, stability and commitment which is basically the embodiment of the Gem fusion. Garnets are also gemstones associated with strength, bravery, determination and self-confidence which are all characteristics that fit Garnet’s personality.

It’s also said to bring order to chaos whether internal or external. It’s clear that Sapphire and Ruby balance each others temperaments and the fusion Garnet is a blend of just that. On the external side of that, Garnet is the leader of the Crystal Gems and is the one who typically keeps the group in order. Another cool fact is that Garnet is not a single mineral, but a group containing closely related, isomorphous minerals that form a series with each other, which fits with the fact that she a fusion of two Gems. My favorite connection is that garnet symbolizes a quick return to a separated love. I mean, come on, how sweet is that?!

Opal (Pearl and Amethyst)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

Opal is known for sparking intuition, personal power and removes fear. Opal is also a stone of inspiration which enhances imagination and creativity. Because we don’t know much about Opal, it’s difficult to tell what connection there is between the fusion and the stone.

Sugilite (Garnet and Amethyst)

Connection: Moderate

Although all we really know about Sugilite is that she’s a powerful and uncontrollable fusion, there are some interesting correlations I found. Sugilite is associated with the resolution of existential problems, self-awareness, incarnation and identity which could be why she’s always so reluctance to unfuse. 

Sugilite is also known to alleviate negative/destructive emotions and improve confidence. It lowers hostility, anger, jealousy and prejudice and gives a sense of freedom. These all seem like polarizing characteristic of Sugilite the character, but perhaps the fact that Sugilite is uncontrollable and impulsive eases those feelings in Garnet and Amethyst; because they can use Sugilite to get those feelings out of their system.

Sardonyx (Garnet and Pearl)

Connection: Moderate

Even though we only just met Sardonyx in the “Cry for Help” episode, there are some similarities I found in the fusion and stone. Sardonyx is known for amplifying charisma, and although Amethyst might not agree, Sardonyx does have strong charisma.

Sardonyx embodies a vibration of happiness, optimism and confidence which we see in her personality in just one episode. The gem also helps to boost your self-control and your level of personal power. The main reason Sardonyx was fused in “Cry for Help” was because Sugilite was uncontrollable and they needed a powerful fusion they could control to destroy the Communication Hub.

Alexandrite (Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

The only connection I found was that alexandrite is a stone of courage, allowing one to face change with no fears. Since Alexandrite is a fusion of Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst, I could see it being used in dire circumstances; hence, the courage aspect.

Rainbow Quartz (Rose Quartz and Pearl)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

The stone is associated with hope, optimism, communication, meditation and healing. We don’t know much about Rainbow Quartz, she hasn’t even spoken yet, so I can’t find a lot of similarities. However, the healing aspect could be connected to the Rose Quartz part of the fusion.

Malachite (Jasper and Lapis Lazuli)

Connection: Strong

Malachite has a strong connection in a unique way. It is known as the “stone of transformation” because it helps reveal and heal emotional pain by absorbing the pain into itself. It also tends to draw negative energy and disharmony into itself. Lapis Lazuli fuses with Jasper as a way to control Jasper and protect everyone. We see in the episode “Chille Tid” that she’s constantly fighting to stay fused as Malachite in order to control Jasper. The negative energy and disharmony going on inside of Malachite is clear to the viewers.

Thoughts on the gems and the similarities in their properties, or just wanna gush about your love for Steven Universe? Comment below! 

My ‘Steven Universe’ Gemsona: Black Pearl

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I rarely call any show perfect but Steven Universe is perfect. The only other show I’ve said that about is Avatar: The Last Airbender (I still have one season left to watch I was a late bloomer, cut me some slack).

Never heard of Steven Universe? Well it’s about the adventures of The Crystal Gems (Steven, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl) and the people of Beach City. Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are intergalactic warriors who get their powers from magical gemstones. Steven is a half-Gem and half-human boy from Earth who inherited his mom’s gemstone, Rose Quartz (who was also a Crystal Gem). Steven is still figuring out how to use his gem and spends his time going on adventures with the Crystal Gems and hanging out in his hometown, Beach City.

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Connie, Steven and Lion

The series is created by Rebecca Sugar who was the storyboard artist, writer and composer for Adventure Time. It’s the first Cartoon Network show by the studio to be created by a woman. Go Rebecca! Steven Universe isn’t just cute and funny but also smart, deep and incredibly heartwarming. The feels are very strong in this show.

Because I wasn’t caught up with the show for a while I avoided all internet things related to SU. So I didn’t know about gemsonas until I saw the one my brother Myles made, Hambergite. A Gemsona is a Gem persona that a fan creates, usually with fan art. They are original fan made Gem characters. You can have one or many gemsonas. Of course, I wanted a gemsona too! I’m not an artist, but my brother is and he said he would make me one. Perks of being his sister! I described to him my gemsona’s personality, body type, outfit, gem location and weapon and I was blown away at how beautiful she came out. I love that he made her in the Steven Universe art style, too. Check out more of his art on tumblr: skoots-does-a-sketch.tumblr.com. If you want to see more gemsonas, check out the tag on tumblr.

I introduce to you my gemsona, Black Pearl!

My Gemsona Black Pearl [Art by Myles]

My Gemsona Black Pearl [Art by Myles]

Gem: Black Pearl

Weapon: Trident

Personality: She’s a carefree Gem who loves to swim, surf, sing and dance.

Backstory: Black Pearl is from Homeworld but never really felt at home there. Thousands of years ago she came to Earth for typical Gem business but her ship malfunctioned and she ended up on an island in the South Pacific. She finally felt like she was home and has stayed there ever since.

Myles’ Gemsona Hambergite

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Myles’ Gemsona Hambergite [Art by Myles]

Gem: Hambergite
Weapon: Giant Rocket Launcher
Personality: Kind of mean and rude but has a soft side that he tries to keep secret.
Backstory: Hambergite is a Homeworld Gem that sort of bought into the goals of galactic conquest from the Gem leaders. Hambergite feels a bit uneasy about all the stuff Gems do to the planets they invade, but he’s just a goon and ultimately wants to keep his superiors happy.

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Hambergite isn’t really one for dancing… [Art by Myles]

Drowsy Musings on Doctor Who and Space

 

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So I was laying in bed one night thinking about how much I love Doctor Who (stay with me now) and felt compelled to share my drowsy musings.

Answers… Sort of

Doctor Who, as well as most sci-fi, gives us answers to science questions. Albeit a fictional answer, but an answer nonetheless. But if Star Trek taught us anything it’s that science fiction doesn’t always stay fiction. With subjects like parallel universes and time travel, some Doctor Who episodes can be seen as scientific theories with a plot.

Sapphire Waterfalls

Doctor Who exercises our imagination by showing us our possible future. Pretty much anything you imagine can be made into a Doctor Who episode, which we have learned is sometimes for the worse. But it’s in those campy plots and shoddy graphics that my love somehow grows for this show. I just hope I’m around when we discover star whales and a planet with sapphire waterfalls.

We’re His Fave

Shattered gemstone waterfalls and wibbly wobbly time travel aren’t the most important things I takeaway from Doctor Who. The most significant thing for me is surprisingly human.

Traveling around time and space can easily make any human feel insignificant. But the Doctor, a genius who has arguably seen more of the universe than anyone else (except for maybe the Face of Boe), loves Earth and humans… Even when it’s hard for us to love ourselves. Out of all of the fascinating planets and beings, he always come back to Earth. And although one answer may be that it makes filming the show much easier, I like to think that it has to do with how important we are.

The Impossible Girl

I may not have a TARDIS to take me through time and space and make me question my importance in the universe, but I do have the stars. The furthest star is 13.8 billion light years away, a distance I can’t even fathom. But instead of that distance making me feel small and insignificant, it makes me feel like the most important being in the universe. Out of all of that, I exist.

NYCC 2014: Cosplay Roundup

Every year I attend New York Comic Con more and more fans cosplay. It’s tough picking favorites but the ones that made me squee the most were Death from East of West and Steven Universe and his mom as Garnet. Oh and here’s my post about my Sailor Moon (aka Sailor Goon), Space Dandy and Spike Spiegel cosplay.

Anime/Manga

Comics

Movies & TV & Video Games & Podcasts

 

Dedicated to the Impossible Girl (And The Doctor Who World Tour)

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Although I met Alison only briefly at The Doctor Who World Tour, it’s a moment that I will remember forever… The thing is, I wasn’t even supposed to be at the #DWWorldTour in NYC. I was one of many who couldn’t get tickets. Then the day before the event, my friend Yissel asked if I wanted to go in her place. Her friend Christina had an extra ticket and Yissel couldn’t make it. I mean, why would I not want to go? Doctor Who is my favorite thing in all of time and space. I was lucky enough to meet Matt Smith and the crew not once but twice a few years ago. Now I get to see Peter Capaldi in the flesh! 

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSo Thursday afternoon I put on a bunch of TARDISes and set off to see the Doctor and the companion and the Moff hosted by Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist. I met the golden ticket holder,Christina, in line at around 2pm and we instantly hit it off. The event wasn’t until 7PM but Whovains were in line since 1AM the night before. As usual with line cons (line con: (noun) the very long lines geeks wait in at geeky events and conventions) we made friends with the Whovians around us. (Shout out to Monica and Tatiana!) There were constant bursts of cheers going on during the line con, mostly because BBC America kept asking us to cheer for footage. They even interviewed me and my new Who friends, but only time will tell if I’ll make the final cut. We passed the time by talking about favorite Doctors and companions, crazy DW theories and other geeky things. Time seemed to fly by up until the last hour, or should I say the Eleventh hour, which seemed the longest. Legs were hurting and caffeine was needed. (Let’s see how many Doctor Who puns I can fit in this post.)

AnyWHO at about 7:30PM they finally let us in and me and my Who crew got pretty close to the front. They played the U.S. premier of season eight and it was awesome. I laughed a lot. I almost cried. Typical Doctor Who feels. I can’t tell you any more because of *River Song voice* spoilers.

Peter Capaldi was all I really cared about though. Here in my face was this new 12th Doctor face. But oh man, he was amazing in the first episode. He really really was. You’re gonna love him I’m sure of it. Then Q&A happened which was also very cool but I don’t remember a lot of it because I kept staring at Capaldi. And his eyebrows. Oh and Neil Gaiman was there! How could I forget?!… Oh yeah because I didn’t see him. He tweeted he was there which spread like wildfire on the line con but I didn’t see him. But I felt his presence (jk not really). 

Chris Hardwick, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat

Chris Hardwick, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat

So now on to the best and most important part of the whole entire day. As I was being ushered out of the theater a lady whovian named Alison came up to me, (bet you were wondering when I’d bring her up again) and said something like, “Hi Jamila, I am a fan of your blog.” And I’m like omgwut? First off, I don’t usually meet people in person who are fans of my blog. So when I do meet GGG readers I usually think they are mistaking me with someone else. Some other blog with “girl”and “geek” in the title, which is probably quite a few. So then Alison continued to tell me all of these kind things about my blog and myself and what a great job she thinks I am doing and I was hit with wave after wave of emotions. Shock. Happiness. Confusion. ME? All of this is about me? What?! Then of course in true Jamila fashion, those tears that almost came out during the Doctor Who episode came back.

The thing is, I was having a pretty shitty week personally. Then that shittiness was multiplied by Ferguson and Robin Williams. I had cried a few times earlier that week about sad stuff, so to cry about something happy when I needed it the most is something I’ll never forget. I just blog into the void not knowing who is reading my blog, let alone cares about it. So to meet someone like Alison is something I still can’t even comprehend. I still get emotional thinking about it. I’m forever grateful for that. 

Let’s end on a quote from the Doctor,

“What’s the point of being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is of course- because they are going to be sad later.”

Fangirl on a Budget: Cosplay Hair

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As I mentioned in the comic book edition of Fangirl on a Budget, being a geek girl can be pretty expensive, but being a cosplayer is even more expensive. Sometimes one cosplay can cost hundreds of dollars. Although it isn’t always easy to cut the costs of fabric and building materials for your costume, one way you could save some cash is with cosplay hair.

Wigs can be expensive and at times unavoidable. But, if your hair is similar in length to your cosplay character, but not color, try using hair chalk or comb-in hair color. I’ve been playing around with hair chalk since I’ve had my Rouge-inspired blonde streak. It’s a cute and non-permanent way to play around with hair colors. They wash out in about 1 to 2 washes and don’t damage your hair like bleaching and dying.

The products I tried in the video below are Creative Comb-In Hair Color (neon pink) and Hair Artist Hair Chalk (blue-green). The comb-in hair color pigment is vibrant, but keep in mind it can get a little messy since it is the like consistency of pudding and needs about 15 minutes to dry. The hair chalk isn’t messy at all and can be applied in less than 5 minutes. It’s like drawing on your hair which is kinda fun. In my experience hair chalk comes out bolder and brighter on light colored hair and is great if you want to do streaks or allover color. For dark brown and black hair I think hair chalk is best for streaks and highlights. The best thing is they both under 10 bucks.

I’ve been working with some fine folks from FYE on the reopening of their geeky pop culture store. If you’re in the NY tri-state area, check out the new FYE store in Woodbrigde Center Mall in New Jersey. They have lots of geeky pop culture clothes, toys and accessories. They’re even selling Her Universe! They have a beauty section where they sell hair chalk and other beauty products that are all under $10.