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.”

Adorable & Geeky Amigurumi Giveaway

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I don’t do giveaways often, but when I saw Louie’s Loops crocheted cuties I couldn’t resist! It was hard to pick just one mini doll to review but I had to go with Aang. I’m in the process of finishing Avatar: The Last Airbender and I think the show is perfect. The knitting is tight which makes it durable and perfect for a keychain. Although the shape of Louie’s little pod people are similar, he manages to make them all clearly distinguishable and extra adorable. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page for a chance to win a Louie’s Loops amigurumi doll of your choice!

Some of my faves from Louie’s Loops Etsy Shop:

Watch Louie Crochet!

 

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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! 

Flamecon – NYC’s First LGBTQ Comic Con

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I was beyond excited to attend 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.

True Gender Equality

FlameCon had preferred pronoun stickers for attendees to wear which included “Ask Me” and “Them/Their/They”. They also had gender neutral bathrooms. Just two simple additions to a comic con made the 2,200 attendees feel comfortable and welcome.

The Happiest Con

FlameCon is the happiest comic con I’ve ever attended. This all happened because of one simple, but important word, respect. Attendees felt free to be their geeky selves without fear of harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cosplay

There was A LOT of Steven Universe cosplay so I was basically in heaven.

Special Guests & GaymerX

My favorite special guests were Kevin Wada (artist), Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale) and Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale) to name a few! GaymerX had a game room and Nintendo and Atari both had booths.

My Loot

It was pretty hard to not spend all my money, the con was filled with talented creators and vendors. The MC in “Node” by David Rondinelli is basically Sailor Moon if her dad was Batman, so what’s not to love?

I had the chance to meet Hazel Newlevant, editor of “Chainmail Bikini” which is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers. She was super nice and her booth was full of great comics. I picked up her “Poly Glot, Cunning Linguist”. I really loved the honesty and emotional complexity of her short comic.

I couldn’t resist picking up this beautiful Hirsute Heroines postcard set by Hayley Blatte. Just look at the gorgeous purple pit hair!

I’m a big fan of simple black and white art (I blame manga for that). So I knew I couldn’t walk away from Niki Smith’s booth without buying something. “Some Did Rest” was the “depressing” comic as Smith described it. It was inspired by, “the thousands of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the impact of a natural disaster on a society with compulsory population control.” It is pretty sad, but also really beautiful.

Up With The Sun” and “Friends” are Smith’s LGTBQ-friendly erotic comics. “Up With The Sun” is about a polyamorous relationship with a cisgender woman, transgender man and a cisgender man. “Friends” features a threesome with two cisgender men and one cisgender woman. I’ve read smut and ecchi manga before, so it was nice to read a comic where the eroticism of the story is healthy and balanced. You can read and subscribe to “Friends” and “Up with the Sun” on the erotic comic site Filthy Figments. She has more erotic comics as well!

FlameCon plans to have another con next year, hurray! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Oh, and stay tuned for another FlameCon blog post about the ‘Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ panel I attended.

Girl Gone Lolita

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This past April was Geek Girl Brunch NYC’s annual Lolita Picnic at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens! Before I get in too deep, let me explain what Lolita Fashion is for those who think I’m talking about the Nabokov kind. Lolita is a Japanese street style and subculture that is heavily inspired by the Rococo and Victorian eras, but also has some influences from current fashion trends.

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What I love most is that there are lots of Lolita sub-styles so you’re bound to find one that’s perfect for you. For more info check out the post I wrote for Geek Girl Brunch, Lolita Fashion 101.

Being a Lolita is expensive, which is probably why I only seem to get a new coord (coordinate/outfit) once a year. You not only need a dress or blouse and skirt, but a petticoat, shoes, purse and accessories. You can also level up and get a wig and circle contacts for baby doll eyes. I did not level up.

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If you plan to wear the Chanels of the Lolita world like Angelic Pretty or Baby the Stars Shine Bright, dresses can cost you anywhere from $140-$500. Since I’m not ‘bout that “brand” life I’ve only worn “off-brand” clothing, which is still cute af and much more affordable. I suggest Etsy, Bodyline and My Lolita Dress for some amazing off-brand Lolita fashion.

With 14 or so Lolita sub-styles it was tough to figure out which one best represented me. I love how ridiculously cute Sweet Lolitas are, but also couldn’t deny that I wear an awful lot of black so maybe I was more of a Gothic Lolita…

In the end, I went for a Classic Lolita look with a touch of Garden Party to go with the Cherry Blossom Festival. I really wanted to wear rocking horse shoes and after an embarrassing amount of hours I found the perfect floral skirt on My Lolita Dress. My favorite piece however was the beautiful vintage hat from the 1960’s that I got from Age of Mint.

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My Coord:

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The GGB Lolita picnic was so much fun! Everyone came in their Lolita and Garden Party best. I love wearing Lolita because I feel super cute and always get showered with compliments. One little girl thought I was a princess and another asked if I was a butterfly. I just about died. There’s nothing wrong with a confidence boost!

The Lolita Brunch was extra special because I reunited with GGB NYC after being in Germany since December. I surprised Yissel and Rachel (my fellow GGB co-founders) with a commission of us three in Lolita made by the AMAZING Crown Maiden​! Check out the details of the art here

Geek Girl Brunch has grown so much in one year and we currently have 57 chapters worldwide! Join Geek Girl Brunch to get in on the geek girl fun. If you want to start a chapter in your city, email us

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.