Charlotte’s Farewell Post as Director, Fantasy Lit, Dragon Con

Posted on 07 June 2018

With Permission, I am posting this without comment so that it can still be seen. It had originally been posted to the Fantasy Literature at Dragon Con Facebook page, which was taken down by Facebook. For good reasons, Charlotte did not want to post this on her personal wall, so I am giving it a home here.


Hi, everyone. It’s Charlotte.

Effective immediately, I am no longer the Fantasy Literature Fan Track Director.

I apologize for the cryptic nature of what follows. I will, at my discretion and on a person-by-person basis, give details in private, or when plied by sufficient quantities of alcohol.

First:

I would like to thank Rachel Reeves and David Gordon for working with me to find an equitable resolution to some longstanding and, ultimately, insurmountable differences between my priorities and the convention’s.

I deeply regret that, in an effort to defend this community I love so much, I have, in moments of anger, occasionally overstepped my bounds, resorting to tactics that were unbecoming of me. My behavior has not consistently reflected the convention’s values—nor, in my better moments, mine.

While I do not regret, for one second, standing up to any person who, through their stories, statements, or behavior, threatens this community—or who, out of self-preservation, chooses not to see injustice and abuse—there are ways I might have done so without grabbing for low-hanging fruit.

Dragon Con strives to be apolitical. Perhaps that’s admirable (and perhaps it isn’t? I truly don’t know), but it strikes me that the most bombastic champions of this position are the ones most incensed by social justice, a phrase they sneer as a term of derision and ridicule.

I believe that Dragon Con’s heart is in the right place. I really do. They made it clear to me that they have no compunction with the fundamental nature of my values; that they welcome strong opinions among their track directors; and that they share a desire to create a diverse and safe environment.

They want everyone to have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, they also want everyone to have a seat at the table. And a table that seats abusers beside their abused is not, in fact, a table for all: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

So. The convention and I are at an impasse. And perhaps it is best if Dragon Con finds a less vociferous replacement for me, though I regret that this must happen so close to this year’s event.

I’m not sure what shape Fantasy Literature will take this year. I AM sure that whoever next takes the helm will do their level best to steer the ship.

If something significant changes for the convention, I would welcome a reopened dialogue and the possibility of my returning.

That said: I will have no compunctions about severing ties with individuals who asked to use my microphone just long enough to choke me with the cord.

I was barely 17 years old when I attended my first Dragon Con in 2000, having heard of this amazing Anne McCaffrey-themed fan track called Weyrfest. Shy, skinny, and strange, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I set foot in that little hotel conference room, wearing a dress my mother had sewed for me based on the description of my PernMUSH dragonrider character, Catalina.

What I found was a colorful family of misfits I didn’t have to explain myself to; who accepted me on the basis that I loved what they loved; and who demanded nothing of me other than my empathy and authenticity. There were no strangers in that room. And with their support and friendship, I started to feel more confident and expressive, more vibrantly myself.

I can say, unequivocally, that my life would be very different without Dragon Con.

Since I began serving as a track director in 2008, I’ve done my best to smooth the event’s transition from Weyrfest to Anne McCaffrey’s Worlds to Fantasy Literature, and to give a greater platform to previously unheard voices. Though I have many, many, MANY shortcomings, I’m most bothered when I’ve failed to serve those with the fewest advantages and the greatest need.

I’ve let you all down. I’m so sorry.

I want to thank my incredible team of caring, inexhaustible volunteers, past and recent, for making sure I am fed and watered and relatively sane in the four chaotic days Fantasy Lit has to function: Robert, Melissa, Garfield, Malakye, and Alex, and also Hisham and Margaret and Diana and Glori and anyone else who’s propped me upright over the years.

Two very special, deeply patient people have served as my director’s second, though I could hardly consider them “second” to me or to anyone: Richard “Fife” Blaylock and Angel Adams. Fantasy Literature literally could not have happened without them. They are the cool composure to my hot mess. I love them with my whole self.

I am also indebted to the scores of friends and unofficial volunteers who have stepped up to put art on walls and rearrange chairs and give directions to the bathroom and wrangle crowds and pour water and give encouragement when my volunteers and I were overwhelmed. You have always done more than anyone could have asked of you.

And, finally, I am thankful for the guests and panelists who have enriched this track, in all its incarnations, with their wit and wisdom and perspective. I hope we’ll cross paths at other conventions, and that, one day soon, I’ll get to sit beside you as a panelist and creator.

I may still be in Atlanta, if I can afford it, on Labor Day weekend, though not as an attendee of the convention; that would feel hypocritical. The Decatur Literary Festival is right around the corner, so maybe I can spend my days there, and my nights drinking and swapping stories with my friends and colleagues. We’ll have to see. FOMO is a powerful drug, but being convention-adjacent may be too painful to bear.

I love you all very much. And gangly, awkward, timid 17-year-old Charlotte—or, as you call her, Cat—is forever grateful for the family of fellow weirdos who made her brave.

Remember:

Who wills, Can.
Who tries, Does.
Who loves, Lives.

So say we all.

—Charlotte, who will miss you all very much.


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