Silver Swan Award
The Silver Swan Award is bestowed by the Board of the Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation to recognise significant contributions to the Western Australian science fiction community. As of 2013, it has only been awarded three times.
The initial recipient was chosen by a vote of the members of Swancon 10, in 1985. The actual, physical, Award was presented to the winner at Swancon XI, the 1986 National Australian SF Convention.
1985: Grant Stone
2000: The editorial committee of Eidolon
2008: Danny Oz
Here's the 2016 speech:
Tonight we are awarding the Silver Swan for the work of Gynaecon, for the huge impact that it has had on Swancon and our community. Gynaecon has shifted the culture of everything. Before Gynaecon there was no safe space for people who weren't the con runners. Before Gynaecon there wasn't the current celebration of the diversity in our fandom, in fact that diversity was denied and suppressed. There was a time when children were not wlecome at Swancon; when fanfiction had no place in the program, nor did the family stream, and even the art show, media and gaming were seen as poor relations to literary fandom. In fact many of the what ifs of science fiction had no place once they became lived experiences of fans.
Gynaecon started off meeting in hotel rooms, advertising on toilet doors, and fitting conversations into the cracks in the main program. Inch by inch, Gynaecon fought for space, claiming programming spots and whole rooms and budget for the family program, and for things that had never been seen in the program before.
With a movement like Gynaecon it's hard to capture the names of everyone involved because people's engagement waxed and waned as they took on tasks and then handed on the legacy to other people as their own lives changed.
Over the past few weeks we have been picking peoples brains about the beginnings of Gynaecon and the list we have come up with tonight is not a definitive list of names, but these are the names that have kept coming up over and over again.
There are other people who were involved in Gynaecon and this award is also celebrating their contrabution, but tonight we giving the Silver Swan to:
[Post the list on screen – not in a linear order, but in a cloud of names]
Jack: [Read the list]
Sally Beasley Gina Goddard Emma Hawkes Sarah Xu Sarah Parker Ju Landéesse Jack Bridges Fe Waters Sandra Norman Cathy Cupitt Karen McKenna Jenny Owens Anna Hepworth
Sally Beasley has been here from the beginning of Swancon. When the con was actively hostile environment for children, Sally began the push to make the con accessible for parents with space for children. This didn't work, at first, but without Sally's initial effort laying the foundation, everything that followed after would have been so much harder.
Because Sarah Xu was one of the key people involved in Gynaecon, we wanted her voice to be heard tonight. Sarah has sent us her remembrances, which capture the essence of Gynacon.
A hotel room of one’s own.
I don’t remember the date, or the year even, that is history and history is not my thing. Let me tell you of the herstory, the things I do remember, like snippets of a dream. I remember beige carpet and pink and grey curtains. I remember Gina Goddard and Emma Hawke and Jenny Owens. I remember print your own t-shirts, half-assed handicrafts, pronouns, fanvids, speculum fiction and sponges. I remember last minute ideas and well thought out presentations. Gatherings in hotel rooms with people lounged on beds and chairs and floors. I remember hand written posters on the back of toilet doors, then later notes on white boards and even later fully printed program items. I remember Cathy Cupitt and Helen Merrick filling my head full of visions of the secret feminist cabal.
I remember our excitement and hope.
You might think that gynacon was born out of dissatisfaction, and I won’t lie, there was some of that. We found ourselves at a time and place where most con programs would barely pass the bechdel test, and we certainly were not at a time and place where would have regular panels about the Behchdel test. But it is the excitement that I remember most. The idea that we could be a part of this fanish space but on our own terms. Where we could talk about the kinds of things we wanted to talk about in the ways we wanted to talk about them. Where anyone was free to participate without the pressure, be it self imposed or external, to be an expert, where passion and interest and inquiry mattered more to us than numbers and quotes. Gynacon was never about separatism, though that accusation was leveled more than once. Gynacon was about giving birth to a safe space. And we did. And I loved every minute of it.
Other highlights were the health panels, run by Karen McKenna, Sandra Norman, Sarah Xu, and Jack Bridges.
Gynacon brought Slash to Swancon, through panels run by Cathy Cupitt and Sandra Norman, and through Slashcon, run by Jack Bridges and Cathy Cupitt.
Femmecon sprung out of Gynaecon, thanks to Sarah Parker's and Ju Landesse's work.
Many other topics related to women's wellbeing, gender identity, sexuality, alternative lifestyles, and niche interests have become common at Swancon and within the community, in large part because of the groundwork of Gynaecon and the work of these key people in particular.
Sally's vision of family friendly Swancon with space for children is now a reality, largely thanks to Anna Hepworth, Emma Hawkes and Fe Waters.
The work isn't finished, and we are delighted to see the ideas and values of Gynaecon spreading throughout Swancon, in Safe Spaces panels, with the continuing focus on accessiblity and family programming, and other initiatives such as the pronoun ribbon project. And Gynaecon continues to spread through Australian Fandom.
It's with great pleasure tonight that we award the Silver Swan to the Gynaecon community, and invite those we've named to come up and receive a token to commemorate their contributions.
The awards were bead bracelets, manufactured by Cathy, in a range of sizes and colours so that awardees could choose one that suited them. Each bracelet had a silver swan charm.