This year for me has been swimming in Potter. From Leviosa in July to traveling to London for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in August — and of course, #WizardTeam — but LeakyCon was definitely the highlight of this magical year. Though it was my first time, as soon as I arrived I could tell LeakyCon was much more than a convention, it was a community. Some of the attendees had been attending LeakyCon for several years and had made relationships and deep friendships, and by the end of the weekend, I think I was well on my way to having made a few of those on my own.
I was so excited and bitten by the panel bug after Leviosa that I submitted four panels to LeakyCon and participated in another. I had a packed weekend and, besides the panels I was on, there was a ton of programming that I also wanted to attend. I was also very excited about the opportunity to go to my very first Wizard Rock show and finally see the inventors of Wizard Rock, Harry and the Potters, live. Unfortunately, I had travel issues both ways so I missed the opening ceremony, but by the time I made it to Burbank, I didn’t waste a moment and soaked in all of the magic.
Friday October 21, 2016
Harry Potter and the Stunted Adolescence
We Deserve Better: Why it’s Okay to Reject Cursed Child as Canon
Finding Your Place in the Wizarding World: Intersectionality in Harry Potter
Queer Eye for the Magi
Wizard Rock Night 2
I arrived just in time to sit in the wrong room and show up late to my first panel – Peak Robyn. This is my second time presenting Harry Potter and Stunted Adolescence and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite conversations to have with Potterheads. There was a ton of great comments and conversations about the characters laid out, and again I was shocked by the reaction to Dumbledore. It seems true that the core fandom is not as enamored with Dumbledore as I had previously believed.
After that successful panel, I was buzzing and excited to go talk about why it’s OK to reject Cursed Child as canon. This panel featured LeakyCon staff, Hannah Panek, Proma Khosla, Olivia Dolphin, as well as Baize White and Mark Oshiro. As Bayana and I talked about at length during our bonus #WizardTeam episode, I had many issues with the story which I won’t go into here (#KeepTheSecrets) but it was fascinating and thrilling to participate on a panel – immediately after a panel that accepted Cursed Child – and hear others be empowered to speak on all of the flaws in the story as a whole. There was also a moment where Olivia Dolphin broke down the power dynamics and capitalistic nature of this project that we didn’t get with other Potter projects which really changed my view on the franchise and the fandom. Olivia stated this felt like Jo and Universal proclaiming that only they could decide what was canon and that only they, not the fans, own the Wizarding World and we have to fundamentally reject that.
My final panel of the day dealt with Intersectionality in Harry Potter and featured Proma Khosla, Mark Oshiro and Taekia Blackwell. In the panel, we spoke about representation in not just the Harry Potter series but the wider content coming out including Magic in North America, Fantastic Beasts, and The Cursed Child. In what I am starting to expect is the norm for all LeakyCon audiences, the questions and comments were thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring. We spoke about not just racial representation, but gender, sexual orientation, and other identities not featured in the Wizarding World. #WizardTeam Eliyannah Amirah Yisrael member and creator of the upcoming web series Hermione Granger and the Quarter-Life Crisis broke our brains with her Hermione headcanon and I haven’t gotten my bearings back yet.
Feeling recharged and exuberant after my panels had finished for the day, I attended the Queer Eye for the Magi panel hosted by Mark Oshiro and was so moved by the headcanons and discussions about fanfic that I immediately began reading a fic recommended in the panel, and it is great. The night ended with a Wizard Rock Concert and it was a huge moment for my fandom as it was the first time that I had experienced a transformative piece of fandom for me in real life.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Magical Society’s Public, Private and Nonprofit Sectors
SJW – Social Justice Wizardry
What is Canon?
“You Filthy, Little Mudblood”: Hate Speech and Blood Purity in Harry Potter
Granger/Lovegood 2016 Campaign Meeting
After a long Friday ending with dancing my butt off to the Wizard Rock, I slept hard Saturday morning and did not arrive at the Con until noon, but I started the day by attending a panel on Public and Private sectors in the Wizarding World led by Maggie Brevig and it was the wonky conversation of my dreams. How did Salazar Slytherin build the Chamber of Secrets? Did he take advantage of Muggle plumbers and obliviate them? Is there a Ministry of Engineering who make sure structures made with magic — is the Burrow safe and up to code? We got into breakout groups and talked about what types of social structures need to be in place and obviously I brought up the dire need for a Wizarding Child Protective Services.
After that I moderated a panel filled with allstars of the HPA’s current and former staff. Taekia Blackwell, Claudia Morales and Jackson Bird (who is also a popular YouTuber). We spoke about examples in the book of social justice wizardry – both negative and positive – and how the books impacted their activism and careers. It was a great conversation and made me even more determined to make fandom my full-time job.
Finally, I spent the rest of the day in full fan mode. The What is Canon? panel led by Sierra Fox, Proma Khosla, Olivia Dolphin and Brad Ausrotas brought about serious discussions about what you consider canon and why. The conversation mostly centered on The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts, again the audience had wonderful comments and was very engaged in the conversation. The other panels were interesting as well and the night wrapped up with the Night of Shooting Stars: The Esther Earl Ball in which I felt self-conscious being alone for the first time of the entire convention.
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Time Turning Tutorial: What Happens When You Shift the Sands of Time
Rape Culture in Harry Potter
Not All Bullies are Slytherins: A look at bullying in Harry Potter
The Continuing Struggle for Representation in the Wizarding World
On the final day of LeakyCon I was very excited to be joined by my Nerd Bestie and had some familiar support. Even though everyone was so nice and welcoming it was great to have someone who really knew me and understood how hard I was working to actually remain chill. Though I tried to take notes and ask as many Bayana-esque questions as possible, the Time Turning Tutorial eventually made my head hurt with all of the theories and methods of writing a time travel story. Let’s all hope that Bayana and presenter, Aliza Weinberger never meet and together unravel the very fabric of time.
After I tried to piece together the remnants of my brain, I attended Uplift’s panel on Rape Culture in Harry Potter which spoke about both the examples that occur in the book and in the fandom. From the slut shaming of Ginny Weasley to the lyrics of Wizard Rock songs. As someone new to being active in the fandom, it was an eye-opening panel. Afterward, we attended a lively discussion about Bullying in Harry Potter led by Nancee Lee-Allen, where of course I had to stand up for the Marauders and share ALL of my Snape thoughts. I, then presented my final discussion of the weekend, about the continuing struggle for representation in the Wizarding World, where we tried to brainstorm the types of representation we wanted to see and how the fandom could contribute to making the Wizarding World more representative of the fandom. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to LeakyCon and at the closing ceremony, they finished the story that had been acted out throughout the weekend – some scenes even popping up on the convention floor. Notice yours truly in the back of a few videos. The team at Mischief Management said thank you to the staff, volunteers, and attendees and announced that next year LeakyCon would take place in Dublin, Ireland.
I left the convention feeling closer than ever to the Wizarding World and determined to make my way to Dublin next year, hopefully with more members of #WizardTeam. LeakyCon was the closest I’d come to meeting the online fandom in real life and I felt completely accepted and supported throughout the weekend. The staff of Mischief Management really knows how to put on a show and I was in awe of the job that they did.