April 11, 2019

A Fellowship of Respect

Here we are, one month until StokerCon™ 2019. After nearly two years of work, I write this final blog post before the convention starts. I have covered many topics, most of them about the hotel, the city, and the food experiences in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has been fun, and I’m glad you were along for the ride.

But I do have one more blog post to write, and I saved the most important topic for last. 

People have worked hard to assemble and present a convention we hope everyone will find fun, educational, and, above all, safe. The Horror Writers Association takes seriously its obligation to provide “a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion.”

When you registered for the convention, you checked a box affirming that you read, understood, and will abide by the HWA’s Anti-Harassment Policy. If you haven’t read the policy in a while, I strongly suggest you review it. Here’s the link: https://stokercon2019.org/anti-harassment-policy/

If you see or experience an instance of harassment and wish to file a complaint, immediately report the situation to [email protected]. Include the date and location of the incident(s), contact information for any witnesses, and as much detail as possible. During the convention, event staff and volunteers will wear colored ribbons to identify their roles. If a situation requires immediate attention, find someone whose ribbon says COMMITTEE CHAIR, VOLUNTEER, BOARD MEMBER, or TRUSTEE. In the event of an emergency, pick up any hotel phone and dial 500. You will be connected with the venue’s security services. 

Reports of harassment at StokerCon™ 2019 will be followed up by the convention chairs, Lisa Morton and Brian Matthews. Anyone found to have violated these rules may be sanctioned, up to and including expulsion from the convention without refund, and if warranted, involvement of the Grand Rapids Police.

It pains me to have to state the obvious, let alone make it the subject of a blog post, but harassment exists, and it will not be tolerated. No one should be subjected to uncomfortable or unwanted attention. Ever. As a community, we understand horror. We write about it all the time. Protagonists. Antagonists. Good people put into terrible situations. Bad people out to cause harm. We live inside the heads of these characters. Frightened? Threatened? The feeling that you want to throw up? We get it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but when it comes to StokerCon™ 2019, don’t be the villain. 

Be the hero.

Those are my final words, good people. We will gather next month in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to celebrate our love for the genre, and our fellowship as writers and friends. We have an excellent program for you to enjoy, filled with panels and presentations, workshops and special events. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you, and I hope you have a blast.

See you in Grand Rapids!

Brian W. Matthews

Chair, StokerCon™ 2019