BOOK RIOT LIVE: November 12-13 2016, NYC.
So, my hat what a week. It began on such a high too, on the afternoon of Sunday November 6 I came out to my parents, which they took dashed well, and then packed for what I hoped would be triumphant cap upon what has been a banner year of sorts for me, my trip to Book Riot Live that coming weekend. Then, the event happened on Tuesday night which really took the edge off Wednesday and Thursday, the two days I took to travel from home to NYC. The worry took me that that BRL would instead be a gloomy wake.
Thankfully, as Saturday morning dawned and we queued and entered Metropolitan West to collect name tags, goodie bags and such, I need not have worried at all. There was there spirit of warmth, friendliness and community that has made BookRiot one of my online homes. I got to meet all the cool kids, Rebecca, Amanda, Jeff, the force of bookish nature that is top hugger Liberty, also ace hugger Swapna, Wallace, Cassandra and many more.
To the events then, which kicked off with an ‘ask me anything’ session with Jeff and Rebecca and a wonderful cleansing primal roar to get ‘it’ out of our systems. Obviously though you can’t just drop and move on from so disastrous a change in political climate, with a lot of good people feeling scared and threatened, it was heart swellingly encouraging to see so many people filled with anger and determination. If the turnout at the Activism going forward discussion on Sunday is anything to go by then things might just be OK after all.
Saturday also featured other strong highlights, the BookRiot podcast especially and the panels on writers finding their voices and how they wrote about historical events from their own perspective were also extremely interesting, both Meg Medina and Patrick Phillips were particularly eloquent speakers – I’d have sat there watching (and listening honest ) Mr Phillips go through the phone book. The comic highlight was ‘If we’re not laughing, we’re crying’ featuring Jade Chang, Tara Clancy and Negin Farsad, who as well as being moving, also had me and the rest of the audience crying with laughter as they discussed how they used humour to deal with the darkness of our times and their stories.
Comedy from a slanted angle
So that was Saturday then – Saturday night though a good many of us gathered at the rare books room at the Strand bookshop by Union Square for mingling and wine. Mingling comes from the ancient Sumerian for making a big gay labradork out of yourself whilst hanging out with good people and trying to discuss what Bookriot means to you and failing, but we’ll come back to that. Anyhoo, moving along was some great conversation and excellent to meet people who’d been at the day’s events but not been able to stop and chat. There was even an international contingent as I met Emily from Sweden and Justine and Paul from Australia, all of whom were smashing fun, and Justine has even kindly supplied photographic evidence of this.
From L-R: Paul, Justine, me (trying some disco moves apparently) and Emily.
Sunday then rolled on as it is wont to do. ANd begun with the fabulocity that was a recording of the All the Books podcast featuring Bookriot’s very own Anne and Leslie, Liberty and Rebecca, who bless their daft hearts, were game for photos with any old daft mug.
The highpoint then came for me in the afternoon’s sessions – the Rise Up: Using Your Voice to make Change panel, featuring again the splendid Meg Medina, Sona Charaipotra, Maria Dahvana Headley and a new hero of mine (warning upcoming labradorkiness) Sara Farizan. To hear Sara say an equivalent of I’m here, queer and not going anywhere’ just made me cry a bit. I realise that in the scheme of things it’s not a big deal but to someone like me who’s only been out since August and still getting the hang of the whole business it means so much.
Behind the scenes I got to meet some more fine and even young people including Liz who was also from England, the lovely Jennifer Gladhill and Devin from Canada, best known as husband to ace twitter prescence, blogger and teacher person Dr Brenna Clarke Gray., who was damned fun to hang out with over the course of the weekend.
Gilbert and George The Next Generation 🙂
The day and event then finished on a glorious joyful note with Nerd Jeopardy, as blogger Mark Oshiro, Mara Wilson of Mathilda movie fame and Sara Farizan did battle in bookish rounds of Jeopardy. After which came a signing session in which I think I just about got away with making a bit of a nit of myself with Sara, but she gave me a hug and left the loveliest of dedications in signing my copy of her book. Then all that was left were goodbyes and the end of an event that had been everything in terms of warming ones heart and soul.
Jeopardeers getting their nerd on
So then, an apology to everyone I labradorked over, but it was just so wonderful to meet y’all in this context, Bookriot has been so important to me, both as a space and resource in terms of coming to terms with my queerness and coming out to friends and parents and finding my bookish tribe and to get a chance to meet and say this to the people who make this all possible meant the moon on a stick, so there you go.
In a weekend where much was obviously made about the importance of diversity and readers especially young ones seeing themselves in what they read, the dive into gay YA has been everything to me, books like ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ and ‘Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel’ have and will be so important to me, as even if the characters don’t mirror me, their thoughts and ideas about discovering themselves and problems about the weirdness and awkwardness of coming out’ have rung so true it’s as if the books have been written just for my head and heart, and as I think I tried to say on Sunday, this has been and will be so important and inspiring in my full emergence as myself in the world, or something like that.
So then, to everyone who organised this, say hey, hugged, hung out or just was along for the ride, thank you for making this what it was, a glorious defiant stand against the oncoming storm. I love you all very much, and let the fight carry on in the same style.