EDIT TO ADD: If you have come to this article first, please do note that I have a follow up post following the BSFA's response.
On Saturday I took a wander around the dealers' room and, at one point, got chatting to the woman running the British Science Fiction Association desk. She was, obviously, selling the organisation and the bundles of stuff you get sent. I have been thinking on andc off of joining for a while, but never at the point I've had money to do so. I've also felt put off by the London-centric nature of it. But this lady, it turns out was from outside of London. The North even... Warrington... nay, Lymm.
Seeing the stuff members get and talking to someone who turns out to be pretty much on my doorstep (or my parents' doorstep anyway) made me want to join and resolve to join come payday.
That changed earlier this evening. The inclusiveness I felt talking to the woman on the stand was completely at odds with what happened on stage at their big awards ceremony.
John Meaney (I can't pretend it was anyone or any group other than him) gave the introductory speech. And it went so, so wrong.
The "humour" in his speech was far too in-jokey. Now, I like a good in joke. Note, good in joke. And even then they should be used with caution. Meaney's speech was one in "joke" after another which relied on you being "in" for longer than I've been alive.
That is not the image of fandom I want to see. It is not the image I want putting out of any organisation I am a member of. It excludes.
Worse, it reflects on non-members as well and reflects on fandom in a completely inappropriate way.
It got worse.
In a masterclass on sexism, he proceeded to do a not very funny sketch making great pains to point out that Lauren Beukes is "hot".
It gets worse.
He started railing against "political correctness", gender parity and the "new man" (meaning someone who wouldn't define women by their looks).
What had started as an ambiguous group of people leaving became an obvious stream of people walking out. I joined them I couldn't take any more of his crap.
Any more of the BSFA's crap. (EDIT TO ADD: Sadly, although BSFA may not share the views Meaney managed to put across, he did so under their banner and at their invitation so there is responsibility)
That is the disgusting image that BSFA managed to put out this evening. It told me that I was not welcome because I am not one of them and I am not welcome because I believe sexism, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism is wrong.
Because I believe in human decency. (EDIT TO ADD: This line seems to be seen as hyperbole and unhelpful. Yes some of it is hyperbole, BUT not completely. The ideas of "political correctness" are basically "human decency" and that's what I am specifically referencing)
I'm sure that when I go to find the BSFA stall tomorrow to say this the person will be apologetic, but tonight needs more than an individual apology.
I hope BSFA understands that and can make me want to join it again.
EDIT TO ADD: I know I've said in the comments that I hope BSFA learn from this, but what I want to make much more explicit is that means I think there should be another go at a speech at the start of the awards. As far as I recall, there hasn't been a speech previously and having something is an idea I like. Donna, who organised it, is to be commended for trying something new. Next year though any briefing given to the toast maker should include mention of who the audience is - that it is made up of both new fans and old fans. The speech should have in jokes, but it shouldn't be comprised entirely of in jokes. It should also be more mindful of potential to cause offence.