There were, and are, hurt feelings on all sides of the issue. I discussed many of the issues with the phenomenal Sophia Catherine of Divine Community on Episode 68 of Inciting A Riot. And, we can talk about what should and shouldn't be done in public space, in event space, in Pantheacon space until we turn blue, but there were some folks who just weren't talking: the event organizers. I had originally reached out to Glenn Turner - Pantheacon chair - who told me she had no interest in being interviewed. This event happened in mid-late February, and it took Turner about 3 weeks to craft a statement. Far be it from me to criticize someone on taking their time to get the wording of a sensitive response correct. Two years later, and I'm still trying to get Project Pagan Enough right.
Here's the full, unedited statement from Pantheacon regarding Limited Access Events:
PantheaCon will adhere to state and federal laws which require age limitations and non-discrimination on the basis of age, race, national origin or gender. We also affirm the importance of safe space and will continue to schedule presentations that limit attendance to specific groups of individuals. All workshops or rituals that say “Women Only” or “Men Only” will be open to all who self-identify as such.
PantheaCon cannot police all boundaries. One thing has become evident, simply seeking to make restrictions on gender unambiguous is not sufficient. Prospective presenters applying to make group-specific presentations should be clear in their language about limitations and observe these guidelines. Private rooms, including Hospitality Suites, at the DoubleTree are not subject to this policy. In the past, groups have held invitation-only events and skyclad rituals in private rooms, and PantheaCon will not interfere in these private arrangements.
PantheaCon aims to provide a safe environment for all of its attendees to enjoy their diverse paths. As we evolve, this policy may be subject to some nuanced changes in the future. We welcome any and all comments on this policy. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org – although we cannot promise a response, all emails will be read.My first impression is two-fold:
- On the one hand, I'm incredibly elated that Pantheacon's policy seems to be evolving. It recognizes that there are very real legal issues that could come from the murky area that exists in the modern day world of public space meeting private practice. I also takes a strong stand against future forms of gender discrimination. Excellent.
- I'm also struck at what this statement doesn't say. It doesn't say that their lack of policy change from 2011 to 2012 specifically helped to cause the second year's controversy. It doesn't take ownership of condoning Z. Budapest's hate speech towards transgender women and genetic men by proxy of allowing her a public space to discriminate two years in a row. There is no apology here. There is no sense of 'We messed up.'
Let me be clear: I am very happy with these changes. I think they are the right changes, and I think it's an important precedent to set for the future. I do, however, have lingering questions regarding Turner's - and the other organizers' - thoughts on Budapest and others like her. Would Budapest be invited to return next year, after the fact of having her unapologetic hate speech zipped around the internet at lightning speed? If so, why? Is it money reasons, as Budapest is a Big Name Pagan and therefore a draw for many?
I am just curious at the more qualitative aspects of these decisions. The 'why's' and not just the 'how's'. It's not enough - and this is the more sociological part of my brain coming through - to know that Budapest doesn't want transgender women in her circle. It's important to know why. And, the reasons why are pretty salacious. The 'why's' inform us as to whether this is someone we can support, someone we can endorse. When someone writes posts like this, that are mostly baseless and make wild claims such as:
- Latent homosexuals are dangerous to women.
- Women are universally hated by the male gender.
- Men beat women who are like the Goddess.
The list goes on, and that's just one blog post. It's important to know why people act, so we know how to react. To know why we react.
So, congratulations Pantheacon on the evolution.
Love and Lyte,