AMBER LOVE 18-MAY-2014 Welcome to this very special edition of VODKA O’CLOCK. This weekend, I attended a couple days of the Steampunk World’s Fair, the largest steampunk event in the world and it’s held in Somerset, NJ and is hosted by Jeff Mach Events. Their audio is handled by the good people at Circuit 6. I mention that because what you are about to hear is a recording of one of the panels held at the show. This was about Gender Bias in Steampunk and the panelists were: Jeff Mach the organizer of the Steampunk World’s Fair & many other events, Bunny Bennett from the popular musical act Steam Powered Giraffe, a cosplayer named Sangii, Luna the Wandering Cellist, and Erika the incredible musician/songwriter known as Unwoman. Bunny and Luna are male to female transgender people and recently came out publicly to their family, friends and fans.
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There were some new privacy and harassment policies put in place this year so prior to the start, I did get permission from all the panelists to record this and share it. As for the Q&A at the end, none of the people used more than a first name so I feel their identities are not made public in a way that would be unwelcome to them.
This discussion was about identity not sexuality though there were a couple of remarks about orientation but to be clear this is a Gender discussion not a Who Do You Sleep With discussion.
One more thing before you hear this great panel, this was my first time using a Tascam portable recorder which was gifted by a generous listener – so thank you so much for that. I didn’t get too involved with mixes and settings but I hope the background noise wasn’t too bad and that the questions spoken by people who weren’t using microphones is picked up.
The music that you’ll hear in this special episode of Vodka O’Clock is from one of the bands that performed at Steampunk World’s Fair. They are Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings. You can find their information at eliaugust.com. I will do my best to get my written recap of the event posted. I hope to have a little bit more audio content as well that will feature other music and an excerpt from one of the story readings. This gender discussion felt like the most important of the things I covered so I wanted to get it posted right away.
Luna says that she finds steampunk has been a community that is safe to explore the gender spectrum.
Bunny’s experience being a family-friendly performer was worrisome at first because not only did she have to go through a “coming out” but the character did as well. The fans have been very supportive.
Regarding traveling to conventions for anime, sci-fi, and steampunk: “Support is totally there. I feel so safe dressing like this or whatever I want because I know that I’m in good company. They’re all geeks and nerds and they don’t care just don’t buy the last Luke Skywalker mint in box.” Bunny Bennett
Regarding being open with fans: “I’m glad to be of service and I say it with much love, that I did this for me and I’m always so amazed that there’s any sort of reaction because It’s such a selfish thing to do. That it can serve any other purpose is great.” Bunny Bennett
The panelists discuss how they handle when they are faced with misgendered pronouns or dialog. They also answered the question whether there was a specific moment that propelled them to come out.
The Steampunk World’s Fair staff would like to hear your feedback about any gender issues and in particular whether you’d like future events to have a gender neutral bathroom.
More SPWF coverage:
Musical samples & O.M. Grey reading plus full recap
Smoke & Mirrors Peepshow