Hey there Futurecon friends and fans! I'm Kat Curtis- you may have seen me tooling around conventions with a Naked News microphone. I may have interviewed you, taken a picture with you, or you may have spraypainted things on me at Futurecon last year. We may be friends- I hope we are! Friendship is important, and it's in the spirit of that friendship that I'm writing this for all of you today, because I feel there are some things that need to be addressed.
Recently, some very hurtful, slanderous remarks have been circulating regarding Futurecon and its organizers, Steven and Liana Kerzner. You may have heard one side of the story- well, here's my experiences.
I met Steven and Liana at a convention, as many of you have. At the time, I was a struggling model and actress- which is to say, mostly unemployed. Liana, after talking to me for about five minutes, offered me a job on one of their old shows. As an employee, I was treated very well, with more respect and kindness than I could have ever imagined. They let me be creative and taught me much about the industry, and made me believe in myself. It was with their support and encouragement that I came to audition for Naked News, where I have happily been for five years and counting. It is because of what they have taught me that I was able to move from simply an anchor on the show, to earning the subsequent titles of writer and segment producer. Throughout my career at Naked News, Liana and Steven have continued to help me professionally- from introducing me to contacts in the industry, to going to bat for me when conventions balked at giving me accreditation or made snap judgements about my professionalism based on the nature of my show, to even offering to take time out of THEIR schedule to film something for me when my cameraman had an emergency and couldn't make it to a shoot.
In the number of years that I have been friends with Steven and Liana, I have seen them go out of their way to help others on many occasions, and they've certainly always been there for me. However, it is human nature that there are always a few bad apples who try to take advantage of the generosity and kindness of others, especially if they have a lot to offer. My friends are not victims. They have a zero tolerance policy for manipulation, bullying, or opportunism- a policy that more people in fandom would do well to adopt. If someone intentionally hurts, harasses, or threatens someone else in their house, or at an event they're running, then that person is no longer welcome there. Is that exclusionary? No, that is Safe Space. That is freedom for individuals to go to an event without worrying that their aggressor is going to be there. That's anti-bullying action in its most pure form. Again, I wish more people would take that tactic.
As for Futurecon- Futurecon is a charity event created to raise funds for Epilepsy Toronto, and to provide the aforementioned Safe Space. The organization has been very successful in that endeavor, raising over two thousand dollars in its first year alone. And, quite frankly, the convention is a LOT of fun. The food was great, the panels and activities were entertaining and well put together, the entertainment was awesome, and I made tons of new friends at the convention- including people who knew very few people at the convention before they came. I had such an amazing time and the convention was run so well that I volunteered to be a part of concom this year.
I had a rough start to 2011- I went home after the New Years' Eve party at Futurecon, only to get into an altercation that ended with me needing to leave the place I was living immmediately. At 5 am, I ended up back at the hotel, not knowing what to do. I booked a room and called a few friends who were at Futurecon to let them know what happened. Within minutes, I was surrounded by supportive, loving people. I was offered a place to stay and help moving, even by people I had met just that weekend. Steven and Liana offered me, on top of all of those things, incredible amounts of support. Running and MC-ing a convention is a lot of work, especially in the first year of its inception, and they were exhausted, yet they both still made time to comfort me. I am not the exception here. I've been friends with these people long enough to see that this is how they treat others as a rule. I've been around a long time, and the ONLY people I have seen told they are unwelcome at Futurecon have been those that harass, abuse or attempt to defame other con-goers.
Does this sound exclusionary to you?
Anyway, this isn't the official stance, this is just my story. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at FUTURECON!
PS Want more info on what this is about? Check this out: http://stevenjkerzner.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/okay-enough/