alt.polycon: Sunday Brunch
(October 14, 1996)
Sunday started with a banquet brunch that was included with the membership – an idea I heartily applaud. Most SF conventions (including Potlatch) charge extra for banquet tickets, which splits up the members into those who went to the banquet and those who don't – but most SF cons have more than the 75 or so attendees who were at alt.polycon. The desire to differentiate into smaller subsets is probably a human trait – we certainly do enough of it – but I think community events such as conventions should discourage it. This why Potlatch (at 200-300 members) doesn't give out free memberships to panelists or committee members – a benefit I've enjoyed at several other SF cons.
The Victor/Lynn/Jim/Ian/Debbie/Alan contingent split up as soon as we arrived at Sunday's brunch and filled up several tables, but I could not see any empty seats where I could sit down as I slowly walked around the room. Finally, I started gearing up my courage to sit alone and wait for others to join me when Holly invited me to sit at her table. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I'd only recently started realizing how many people like me – but I gratefully accepted her invitation.
Elise spoke briefly (as is proper for a convention chair), and let the vegans and lacto-vegetarians go through the banquet first, followed by the lacto-ovo vegetarians – who were followed by everybody else. I really appreciated her compassion, as I've been vegetarian almost half my life – as I mentioned at the panel on being "out." Debbie commented on this in our Saturday dinner, as most vegetarians don't identify themselves by their diet so much, and I replied that going vegetarian was really the first adult decision of my life. Back when I was 14, I spent a month with some Buddhist monks of the Nippozan Myohiji sect, who build peace pagodas around the world. Their vow of poverty prevented them from rejecting meat if it was given to them, but they had a preference for vegetarianism I saw a connection between their avoidance of killing for nutrition and their work against killing in the form of nuclear war, so I decided to try being vegetarian – and immediately ran up against my father's worry that I would become malnourished. I didn't exactly see this as an expression of love at the time, but I might not have stuck with the diet if I didn't think it would show him up. I've found much better reasons to remain vegetarian in the intervening years, but I've also gone back to thank him for the unintentional reinforcement – and for encouraging me to learn about nutrition. All of which shows why that decision was so important to me: it required and encouraged more thought about my diet than I'd ever experienced as an omnivore – just as polyamory has provided me with more opportunities to think about love and sex than I'd expect from monogamy.
Over brunch, I talked about attending the 1993 Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop. Clarion West had plenty of positive and negative aspects, but I concentrated more than I'd like on the negatives and I wish I'd said that my tablemates who wanted to apply should go for it. And then Elise stood up to thank the committee, and we gave her a big round of applause. She said that they expected us polyamorous types to drift between the tables (which got a big laugh), and explained that they'd had a banquet because it required us to get up and move around. She also informed us that alt.polycon would make money, and reminded us that they'd use the profits to send a member to Polycon UK (a large polyamory convention in Scotland during April of 1997). However, they'd decided to hold the drawing after the convention so that the winner could know how much they'd get before deciding whether to accept. She then sang the "conflict resolution song" which Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet wrote for their household ( "Blaisdale Polytechnic") and we all joined for the chorus: "Fight, valiant polys: negotiate the field. Work for consensus, and never, ever yield!"
Go to Part 11: alt.polycon: Sunday Afternoon
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