A few years ago at a science fiction convention, conversation among a group of LGBTQQIAEtc. geeks turned to how a simple word like “gay” had become an ever-growing acronym. We understood the desire to be inclusive, and we understood why a lot of people found the label “queer” to have too much baggage to reclaim. We also understood that the alphabet soup would always end up excluding someone and would only become longer and longer as a result. Being geeks, we brainstormed for an alternative. We decided on “full spectrum:” it references rainbows, it includes visible and non-visible frequencies, and it sounds as sciencey as all heck.
The term stuck with me because of that “non-visible” part. There are an awful lot of full spectrum people in fandom, and conventions are often safer places for people to be out than the larger mundane communities. And yet… where were we? It would be nice if there was some way we could identify one another. And while we are at it, it would be nice if we could see our allies and know that we have people willing to support us. Then it hit me:
Badge ribbons are A Thing at fan conventions, with informal (and sometimes formal) competitions to collect the largest variety. They can be used to advertise upcoming events, announce the release of new books or movies, proclaim that the wearer is a VIP or put in some hours as volunteer, or serve no purpose other than to make other con-goers squee with jealousy and demand to know where they can get one, too. There are also projects like the Backup Ribbon, which use convention ribbons as a way of increasing visibility and letting people know who has their back.
And thus, the Full Spectrum Project.
This ribbon can be worn by anyone, of any orientation or identity or family structure. It is more than a pretty con souvenir, though: wearing it means you agree to abide by The Code: Be respectful of others. Be mindful of what you say and do. Speak up when others are being disrespectful.