A new hashtag has cropped up following this year’s ClexaCon and it spells bad news for this still-fledgling con. The multifandom convention puts focus on LGBTQ women in media, including celebrity guests, artists and more. Its third show took place April 12-15 at Tropicana Las Vegas and unfortunately, many vendors are speaking up about the con’s lack of organization and its damaging effects on the marginalized community it aims to support.
#Clexapocalypse is filled with tweets from vendors and exhibitors from this year’s show, including an open letter shared by comics writer and Arledge Comics founder, Jenn Arledge. The general consensus seems to be that lack of preparation, communication and transparency led to lost sales for vendors and an artist alley that was off the map — literally, because there was no map posted on the ClexaCon website, although a vendor list was apparently sent out via e-mail.
“We are writing to express our sincerest disappointment with your mismanagement of ClexaCon 2019,” begins the open letter, addressed to ClexaCon showrunners from ClexaCon vendors. “The majority of vendors here are seasoned exhibitors who know the risks of conventions, but we also know that our success is largely dependent upon convention leadership.”
From there, Arledge and the other vendors identify “key failings” and a list of changes they urge the con organizers to consider for future shows. Communication, misinformation about table sizing and pricing, lack of vendor badges creating confusion and in some cases leading to harassment from volunteers when vendors lingered in the convention hall to pack up each night are at the top of this list of grievances. The vendor hall was not mentioned in any official con promotion, nor were there signs in the center itself.
To: ClexaCon Showrunners
From: ClexaCon Vendors
We are writing to express our sincerest disappointment with your mismanagement of ClexaCon 2019. The majority of vendors here are seasoned exhibitors who know the risks of 1/
— Jenn started a riot (@arledgecomics) April 17, 2019
Furthermore, though ClexaCon states on its website that it “provides a platform to build community, bringing together a diverse group of LGBTQ fans and content creators from around the world,” vendors experienced misgendering and there were no pronoun badges available from the official con organizers. Other reports note that bathrooms were not gender-neutral and that con security — down to broken glass being in the vendor hall all weekend without any attempts made to clean it up — was extremely lax.
The Beat will have a longer story on the happenings at ClexaCon 2019 to come. Stay tuned.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Montana with her partner and cats.