This year at PAX, to deal with their PR problem, they’re adding a “Diversity Lounge”–a safe space where congoers who feel marginalized can go and congregate with the likeminded to talk about issues of diversity within gaming; a con within a con.
Diversity doesn’t just exist in a bubble, though. The solution for people feeling unsafe at the convention can’t be the removal of the people who feel threatened, that’s just further segregating and alienating the marginalized. Marginalized congoers don’t only want to talk about the lack of diversity in the industry, they want to experience the whole con. That’s the whole reason they decided to attend a gaming show like PAX in the first place. They want to walk the floor, play the games, and attend panels like everyone else. All they’re asking is to attend panels without one of the con heads saying he regrets pulling merchandise that poked fun at rape victims. They’re asking that the con management think twice before allowing panels that encourage the behavior of the lowest common denominator. You can’t create one small safe space and call the job done. You need to target the root of the problem to make the con safe and enjoyable for everyone. Granted, you’ll never be able to prevent all negative instances from occurring, like that one time I ran into a former classmate on the show floor who back in the day was quite vocal about his notion that he felt I owed him a blowjob for being female and in his vicinity, but you can at least TRY to implement working safe space policies that apply to the entire convention.
Unless the Diversity Lounge serves drinks. Then I’m all in.