Up until a week before Sasquan, the 73rd Worldcon, I was the Events Deputy Division Head and the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony. Resigning was a very difficult and painful decision. I did not do so lightly. Doing so left several of my friends in the lurch, and while I don’t regret walking away, I do regret the position I put my boss Jill Eastlake, and my co-director David D’Antonio in. They were both endlessly supportive during this entire situation and have taught me a great deal about how to make Events happen for a Worldcon.
It is common knowledge at this point that Lou Antonelli wrote a letter to the Spokane PD. It is also known that he went on the Superversive SF podcast and bragged about it. While many were rightly focused on David Gerrold’s reaction, the simple fact is that he wasn’t the only person harassed and intimidated, and he wasn’t the only one to report it. As the Co-Director of the Hugo Ceremony I reported my fear directly to my superiors. I did so several times – initially rather timidly because I didn’t want to make a fuss, but later rather firmly in a way that could not be misunderstood. One of the vice-chairs, Glenn Glazer, attempted to guilt me into not pursuing the complaint, and one of the Operations Division Heads, Robbie Bourget told me flat out that I hadn’t been harassed. When I pointed this out to them, I was told that I hadn’t ever made an official harassment complaint and lots of sarcasm that wasn’t in any way close to appropriate.
Senior members of the Sasquan committee responded to a member reporting harassment and asking for help with guilt trips, denial, victim blaming, sarcasm and dismissal.
In the interest of avoiding a he said/she said situation, I have PDFd all of the emails in this conversation and placed them in a Google Drive folder here:
[EDIT – I have redacted the personal email addressed of those participating in this conversation. This is something I should have done before I posted, and I apologize for not doing so. ]
After a fair bit of crying, some time spent on the phone with Jill, and lunch with a good friend, I decided to resign. I cannot ever in good conscience support a committee that treats its members this way. Any member, including committee members and staff, should feel able to report violations of the code of conduct and be taken seriously.
Things did not improve when I got to the convention. I met with Pierre, one of the other vice chairs, who told me that because no evidence had been found online, it had been decided that I hadn’t been harassed. He told me that if I wanted to appeal this decision, I needed to speak to the Chair, Sally Woehrle. When I tracked Sally down, she gave me a number of excuses including “the convention could be sued,” “Antonelli would then become a martyr,” and “harassment is a legal term.” When I pointed out that intimidation (which is directly mentioned in the code of conduct) could easily be exchanged for the term harassment, she told me that I was bordering on irrational. And then, after all of that, she agreed that Glenn’s various responses to me were inappropriate.
It is going to be a while before I get over the whiplash that Sasquan has given me.
Deciding to speak out about this was in many ways just as difficult as deciding to resign. I was raised in and by fandom – so fandom is family to me in a very real way. Talking about this feels like airing dirty laundry, but if these sort of problems aren’t discussed, they will keep happening. Reports of harassment will continue to be ignored and those who report them will continue to be mistreated. What good is a code of conduct if the committee doesn’t stand by it? We’re never going to make fandom a completely safe space, the world is full of people intent on hurting others. But we can, and we should do our best to make sure that our community spaces can be as safe as reasonably possible.