3PM is a much more reasonable time for a panel, and my afternoon “Literature as Activism” one with writer/producer Andy Mangels and author J.M. McDermott was both better attended and more lively, with Andy Mangels providing insight into the obstacles he’s encountered in his efforts to introduce diversity into media owned properties such as Star Trek–which is one of the more receptive outlets for progressive treatments of gender, race, and sexuality/sexual orientation issues. There was a general consensus that there is great potential for art and entertainment to affect and shape public consciousness, as demonstrated by the sitcom Will & Grace, but that GBLT/race/etc. issues and diversity in general continue to be underserved.
The discussion of activism and diversity in the arts was continued in the Sunday noon panel, “Polyamory in SF,” presented by Edward DeGruy, Alan Siler, and Andy Mangels which introduced such examples as Robert A. Heinlein’s Friday and Stranger in a Strange Land, Star Trek’s Dr. Phlox in Enterprise, and Farscape’s Rygel (hey, muppet polyamory is still polyamory). Alan Siler indicated that there are three channels of content that tends to cut edges: England/BBC (e.g., Torchwood), cable stations a la HBO (e.g., Big Love), and SF, and that if a public shift in awareness and tolerance is effected, it will inevitably be from those.
On par with convention demographics in general, as the weekend progressed, the number of attendees increased, although the panel rooms I visited never hit full occupancy. Those times I glanced into the gaming room, it seemed well attended, and I heard much praise for how smoothly those events ran.
In the closing ceremonies, organizer Edward DeGruy gave a rundown of guests for Outlantacon 2010, which will include Nicola Griffith, Kelly Eskridge, Darieck Scott, and Cecilia Tan. OutlantaCon is still finding its feet as a fledgling convention, but the organizers were obliging, accessible, sincere, and responsive, and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of its debut. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I will definitely be back next year.