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Be Conference You More Often

Last updated on 01/03/2024

I love conferences. I love getting up and presenting. I love the chance to catch up with friends from different companies and different states. I love the opportunity to see new perspectives and learn new ideas.

What I love most of all is how kind and respectful people are at conferences. Folks go out of their way to make sure people are included at conversations around the table. They tell me they loved my talk and thank the organizers for all of their hard work. It’s not lip service either! You can feel how earnest those exchanges are. People recognize the care that goes into the whole event, and they truly are appreciative.

I’m always depressed at the end of a conference too. It’s sad to see my friends go, sure, but I’m going back to the status quo as well.

Let me tell you, the status quo sucks.

Indulge me with one illustrative example. I got misgendered twice at my last conference, which ran for about a week. In both cases, the person:

  • Recognized that maybe they had it wrong
  • Didn’t know which way to go and tried a few things
  • Ultimately *asked me* how I wanted to be addressed
  • Apollogized and went forward with the conversation as if nothing happened at all

Barring “not misgendering someone in the first place”, that, folks, is how you do it.

But it isn’t how you do it when you’re not on your best behavior. It would be a miracle if I was only misgendered twice in a week when I’m not at a conference. Having the other party notice their slip-up, and apollogize, would be a welcome change of pace.

It’s not only the queer stuff we’re better about at these conferences either. It’s not dominating a conversation, making a hole in a crowded hallway for folks to pass, holding a plate so someone can use both hands to get a drink. As a community we are fundamentally *nicer* at these events. And that breaks my heart.

Look, I’ve been with you in the industry for years. I’ve seen how you all act when you’re on your best behavior. You’re wonderful lovely people! Make sure you take that home with you. I know its impossible to be on all the time. We have deadlines and flat tires and sick loved ones and a million concerns vying for our time and energy. Still, you owe it to yourselves, your colleagues, and the folks who are considering this field. Bring conference you out a little more often.

Published inPersonalThe Industry