Facing the Past; Turning to the Future
This weekend, I’ll be appearing as an author and speaker at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It’s a huge step for me, as it was the assault after this very convention in 2011 that sent me into the tailspin of trauma and recovery that has been my life ever since.
Well, that’s not quite true. The Writer, my best friend at the time, assaulted and betrayed me about seven months before SPWF 2011. That’s what really started that horrific time. After several months of barely functioning, and not understanding why I was so upset (as it would be years before I called The Writer’s choice to sexually assault me what it actually was), I was finally seeing the light of the future again.
Then, I met The Musician at the Steampunk World’s Fair 2011. Full of renewed hope and trust, I told him what The Writer did as a deterrent to his continuous sexual pressure, and he assured me that he would never, ever do such horrible things or treat me thus. He asserted: “I’m a gentleman!”
Of course, as you all well know, he did the exact same thing The Writer did and worse. His assault and treatment further traumatized me and paved the way for the subsequent rape and betrayal at the hands of the Auctioneer, which utterly destroyed me for a time. But, I won’t go through all that again. You can read about The Musician on the pages of this blog and in my award-winning poem “New York Rain“, and you can read about The Auctioneer as well, throughout my recovery in 2012 and in the poems “Look Into My Eyes” and “My Heart Still Wants to Believe,” among others.
A mixture of excitement and fear fill my heart as I embark on this weekend journey that will be the end of a long, painful chapter in my life. It will be the end, regardless, but it is yet to be seen if it will be the beginning of something new. Judging from the aggressive, cruel reactions on FB over the SPWF’s Harassment Policy, my guess it that it will just be the end; however, I do hold out a little hope, that extremely dangerous thing. I know through extensive experience not only that most people are generally insensitive assholes, but also that the rare good, compassionate people have a tendency to keep quiet and hidden. I hope they’re out there, in the shadows, and I hope they will come out this weekend wearing their white feathers and speaking words of solidarity.
Speaking of good people, I couldn’t be more grateful to Jeff Mach, his staff, and The Steampunk World’s Fair for their kindness and support. I’m very impressed with their choices to keep known offenders out of their space, as well as their other steps to create a safe convention for their patrons. They’re one of the very few Steampunk conventions in the country* willing to do what it takes to do so, and I applaud them for it. I couldn’t be more honored to be a central part of their Consent & Safety Track.
On Saturday evening at 7:30pm, I’m giving a presentation on rape culture and community response called “No Means No: Responding to Sexual Violence in our Community.” I’ve been working on it for weeks. The response to this presentation, as well as the way con goers interact with me (or avoid me) will help me decide if and how I will move forward in speaking publicly about the epidemic of sexual violence and how community response to said violence is perpetuating it. I aim to change the script from which we speak, and give new words to us all that will turn the questions and doubt to the accused perpetrator and away from the traumatized party.
Not a huge step, really. Just a small change in strategy, but you would be amazed (as I continuously am) the intense and angry resistance to this simple request. It perfectly illustrated rape culture with each new conversation I attempt to have on this subject. It’s frustrating and triggering and difficult….and extremely important to keep the conversation going despite the aggression and threats, despite the rape apologia.
I aim to do just that.
Amidst my mixed emotions and anxiety leading up to this weekend, my gratitude for the few good people I know shines through. My gratitude that the aggressive cowards reveal themselves online so I know who to avoid shines through. My gratitude that I can finally (albeit metaphorically) walk through that NYC hotel door, without being blocked by a rapist this time, and lock it behind me three years later shines through. I will walk out onto the streets alone, safe in my solidude, with my voice to carry me onto whatever is next for me.
Bottom line is that if even a few people keep valuing my voice and contribution to the discussion, I’ll keep speaking out. If they ask me to speak at their event, I will do so.
For, as I’ve said before, I will never be silent again.
My complete SPWF Schedule:
SATURDAY, MAY 17
– 10am Order of the White Feather Gathering & Workshop
– 12pm Author O. M. Grey: Reading and Q&A
– 2pm Grand High Tea
– 7:30pm No Means No: Responding to Sexual Violence in Our Community
– 11pm yes…Yes…OH, YES!: Embracing Enthusiastic Consent (18+)
SUNDAY, MAY 18
– 12p SPWF Author Round Up
– 1:30pm Incorporating History into Fantasy
– 3:30pm Respectful Appreciation and Affection: Consent in Convention Spaces
– 5pm Beyond Fiction: Publishing & Marketing Realities for Emerging Authors
If I’m not at one of these workshops or peeking in to hear the sultry and haunting sounds of Unwoman or Eli August, please look for me at my table where I’ll have books and other goodies. Come by to get your book signed or to have a chat.
See you at the fair!
*one in three, actually. The other two who have stated that a particular known rapist isn’t welcome at their event are AnomalyCon in Denver and Mickey Flint’s Steampunk Shows in Florida. If any other convention would like to join them, I’d be happy to speak at your show as well. For now, places like the now-(happily)-defunct SteamCon and Wild Wild West Con, who knew details of the assault and still honored a known rapist with Guest of Honor status, I’ve got only two words: Fuck You.
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~ by omgrey on May 15, 2014.
Posted in Events & Contests, Steampunk Spotlight, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: author, convention, misogyny, o.m. grey, olivia grey, order of the white feather, rape, rape survivor, sexual assault, shattered, silver goggles, steampunk, steampunk worlds fair