My Experience at Gencon
I literally hate this. I'm wanting desperately to talk about anything GenCon related BUT this. But I'm seeing people have discourse about it, I'm watching my friends grieve and experience PTSD triggers over it, and I'm seeing misinformation flying about. So I'm going to detail this once, and then I want to not have to talk about it ever again except with the other people affected by it. Here is my account of what happened Sunday night at Gen con.
I went out to celebrate the end of the convention with the friends I came there with. We had a lot to celebrate. They had their first ever live dnd show and I was so proud I still want to cry over it. I did a new kind of performance I never did before, and some of my work was recognized. Daisy was a friend and someone I looked up to as a mentor in the industry. She supported me when men in the same field did not. Because of this, I trusted her very much. I invited her to join us. She did, and almost instantly the mood of the entire night shifted, but I thought it was just towards me. She sat next to me and never stopped touching me, held me with her arm so tight I could not move at certain points to talk to my friends.
The comments I've seen from both Daisy and others brushing this off as "drunken cheek kisses" is what I want to clarify. Daisy started grabbing my head with both hands and forcing, against literally all my strength, to kiss me. The only thing I was able to do was barely turn my head enough to give her my cheek. That happened over and over, because I was physically unable to break her grip on my head, and when I did, she would put her arm around my shoulders and hold me there. The first time this happened was taking a selfie together, and the picture I have of that is hard to look at, I'm visibly trying to pull away and she has a grip on me. She also kept trying to "trick" me into kissing her, the way others have described. Going for a playful hug but then changing course at the last minute and squeezing my body so tight I couldn't pull away, so I'd just try as hard as I could to turn my head. I kept trying to make eye contact with someone to see if anyone was noticing how distressed I was but most of the time no one was looking when this happened. I laughed it off, mostly to try not to cause a scene and ruin the night, and also because I kept telling myself "she's just being drunk and silly with me." Little did I know that each time she got up, she was not going off to the restroom, she was getting up and doing the same thing to one of my friends.
Had it just been me, I very probably would not have said a word about this, I planned to just quietly distance myself from her and certainly would never drink in the same location as her ever again. But I trusted my people with her. I said, "this is Daisy, a cool and good person", and then she hurt them. My friends are hurt, and their convention experience sullied, because I trusted the wrong person. I'm sitting deeply in that. And outside of the friends I was with that night, at least two others throughout the con weekend have reported the same behavior. 6 of us in one weekend does not feel like nothing. We know that people with influence in this industry feel emboldened to do things like this, even people we might like. I am heartbroken. I liked and trusted this person a great deal. I am now wondering, all those times she uplifted my work, was it real? My head is flooded.
I also want to say that the aftermath of this has been absolutely horrid. I had to drive 13 hours, at each rest stop opening my phone to see discourse unraveling about it. Checking in to messages from the other people hurt, worrying about them when I wanted to be focused on singing along to Disney's greatest hits with my pals. People who haven't spoken to me or any of us directly making call-out posts, arguing about how bad it was or wasn't, and making demands that none of us had any opportunity to talk about. Of course, some of this is Daisy's own fault for posting publicly about it in a pre-emptive defense, we literally had no intention of even naming her. We planned to fill out an incident report with the con and with Kobold Press and then letting this be handled by professionals so that we could focus on each other. But it's out, it's circulating, and my friends and I are having more panic attacks as a result. So, I wanted to be clear and transparent.
A lot of us are dealing with the feeling, which is, unfortunately, being echoed by some people on twitter, that this was not that bad, and that we are making a big deal over just some drunken sloppy behavior. Please remember that A. we did not speak on this at ALL until the person who did it decided to do so first, leading the internet to run away with the narrative, and B. being physically forced to kiss someone and held against your will being described as "not that bad" is part of a larger conversation on how willing we are to normalize the violation of our boundaries. So to anyone else hurt, it doesn't matter if this was "not that bad" in comparison to other things that have happened in the world. Your boundaries are important, your safety is important, and you being put through something that triggered your PTSD is more than enough reason to be mad, sad, confused, and hurt. You don't need to downplay your experience.
Other things I've seen being discussed are about how unfair we are all being to Daisy, and how we shouldn't take away her support system. Literally, none of us are trying to do that. Again, none of us even wanted to name her. The internet (and Daisy) went ahead and did that for us. Personally, I hope she gets help, I hope she learns to control her drinking and her behavior and to respect boundaries. I do not want to be along for the ride while she does this, but I hope she does it. If you choose to stay in her support network, go right ahead. Do not expect me to let you into my close circle any time soon, but I'm not making any demands of you.
I will cooperate with KP and Gencon staff on incident reports and whatever they need. That was all I ever *wanted* to do in the first place. To those who reached out to me and others directly to offer support, thank you. The private DMs from people I trust is legitimately the most helpful thing anyone has done. If I haven't responded to you yet, I will just give me time. To those who are using this to elevate themselves, I can't stop you but please know how damn obvious you are.
Overall, I have more wins than losses that I want to be focused on. I want to celebrate my friends and myself. And I plan to. This is the last public thing I want to say, anything else will be to people hurt, people I trust, or to staff who can actually take real meaningful actions.