• Kimberly

QFX Staff Interview: Declan

Name: Declan

Pronouns: He/Him

Position: Accessibility Coordinator

Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw

Twitter: @clan_dec

Tell everyone a little bit about yourself.

When not working, I can be found working on the many writing projects I have on the go. I am also known to be found playing games on my Switch, working out, and listening to music. Sunday night will always find me spending time with family and then watching Supergirl.

How did you get involved with QFX?

I’d seen this QFX thing going around social media, and I was intrigued. Then friends started posting about it, and I figured it was time to look into it. I pulled up the website and loved what I saw. In the FAQ there was a thing about reaching out to them if you wanted to get involved, as there might be an opportunity. I’ve worked for a few cons up in Canada and thought I might have some ability to help out. I reached out to them and after some conversations… the rest, as they say, is history.

There are a ton of conventions out there, some that do cater to the LGBTQ+ community, how do you feel QFX is different?

I think QFX stands out in the drive to do our best to be truly inclusive and accessible and to foster a true sense of community.

Of all the guests that one could possibly ask for, who would you love to see or meet?

There are so many to list… but as a trans person I think the two at the top of my list at the moment would have to be Jamie Clayton and Nicole Maines. Jamie playing a trans character that was in a queer relationship was very important to me as the few trans characters we have are usually straight. While that’s not a bad thing, in my opinion, it’s also so important that we have trans characters that aren’t straight as well. Nicole Maines, I mean she plays the first trans superhero on television and I’m honestly in awe of all she’s done off screen as well. A third who I’d really like to meet is Azie Tesfai. She’s faced a lot of racism and harassment since joining the cast of Supergirl, and she’s handled herself with such grace. I really admire that.

QFX has made it quite clear they are all about diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. What does this mean to you?

All of this is dear to my heart and the reason I am so excited to work as hard as I can to make this con the best it can be. Diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility are all so very important. We all deserve to feel seen, heard, and represented. Such a big part of that is those three things. Diversity so that as many people as possible see themselves represented. Inclusivity so that everyone feels welcome. And accessibility so that as many as possible can attend without barriers.

We’ve all heard the phrase “representation matters”, but it can ring hollow in our current times. What do you feel or think when you hear it?

I immediately think of how having good representation would have changed my world growing up. This past season Nia Nal became the first trans superhero on television played by Nicole Maines, a trans woman. As a trans guy who came out only a few years ago, even now this representation means the world to me. Seeing Nicole play a superhero and seeing the fact that her character is trans being addressed so beautifully on screen has absolutely made me feel more seen and accepted. If I had had a character like Nia on my television when I was growing up, it would have changed my life. I might have figured things out a lot earlier and I definitely wouldn’t have struggled nearly as much. That’s what “Representation Matters” means to me.

If we were sitting in your living room, wanting to watch a show or movie, what are the top five you would recommend we binge?

In no particular order: Supergirl, Doctor Who, Sense8, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Buffy.

In the past years, I’ve seen conventions that have true accessibility and some that seem to drop the ball. How do you plan on assisting those with accessibility concerns?

As someone who has accessibility concerns of my own, I plan to assist them to the best of my ability in the way that I would like to be assisted. Accessibility at events is so important. Our goal is to help everyone who attends have the ability to have the same enjoyment and to accommodate wherever possible to have that happen.

An add on to the above, how do you plan on handling those who don’t have visually obvious accessibility needs? These are the individuals I have seen denied and in some cases hurt the worst by conventions?

Accessibility for those with invisible disabilities is something I feel very strongly about. For years before my mobility got worse I looked young and able-bodied, even though I was living with invisible disabilities that impeded my access to things. You’re not wrong, I’ve seen those with invisible disabilities denied accommodations at other events. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. To avoid this, we will have hidden disability lanyards that will identify those with hidden disabilities to the QFX staff and volunteers so that we can accommodate appropriately. Other than that, I believe the key is education and training for those who will be doing tasks that may require providing accommodations to attendees.

Thank you so much for your answers. Now onto a lighter topic. Name one thing you do (hobby, quirk, or something else) that people might find odd?

Well, if I can bend the rules a tiny bit and name two. One thing that some people might find odd or weird (but I thoroughly enjoy) is that my bestest friend/little sib and I can head cannon indefinitely. We always have gosh probably at LEAST five ideas on the go at any one time, and we can just keep going for hours and hours and never tire of it. Whether it’s world building for an original story/book, or throwing angst at characters (usually Supergirl characters honestly)... we have fun and usually lose track of time. The second thing people might find odd is that I can listen to the same song/a few songs on repeat for hours/days/months/all year. I have one particular small playlist that I have on repeat pretty much 24/7 to help with my mental health and with dealing with my chronic illness. I’ve had people tell me that it’s “not enough songs” for a playlist. But honestly, I just have it loop back to the start and I’m totally happy.

To game or not to game… Do you? If so, which systems and what is your favorite.

Do I game? But of course I game! Over the years I’ve gamed on most systems. At the moment, I’m limited to PC and phone for gaming. Oh and I just got a Switch on Black Friday and I’ve been LOVING Pokemon Shield!

If there was one thing you wish to bring to QFX that makes it stand out, what would it be?

Of course, one of the main things I hope to bring to QFX is amazing accessibility. Above and beyond that, I hope personally, as a trans guy who has in the past struggled with not feeling like I really fit/was accepted anywhere, that we as a convention can foster a space where everyone feels welcome and accepted.

You’re a Ravenclaw, but that’s Universal/WB. I have to ask what Disney character would you be?

Hmm…. umm…. Marvel’s part of Disney now, right? So, that means those characters are fair game? In that case… Steve Rogers/Captain America no question! Since the moment I saw the first Captain America movie, I’ve very much identified with his story. If we’re limiting it to traditional Disney characters, then probably Peter Pan.

Final question, what do you hope people who attend QFX leave saying or feeling?

I really hope they leave talking about all the amazing experiences they had… all those special moments that happen when you finally get to meet that person you’ve looked up to. And I hope they leave feeling like they’ve found family/community. If they leave feeling those things and hopefully having special memories to take with them… putting on an event that makes that happen? That’s what makes all the hard work worth it.

**Until next time, this is Kimberly “I can do this all day” Amato, signing off.**

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