This is part of a series of profiles of conventions, local to Seattle and across the country, with missions that are relevant to the LGBTQ community.
Most of the conventions we’ve covered thus far have focused on gaming, both tabletop and video varieties. But what about the world of comic books and graphic novels?
Queer folks have made significant headway in the comic world in recent years. The major labels (DC & Marvel) have included more LGBTQ characters, issues, and plot lines, while independent labels such as Zan Christensen’s Northwest Press offer a level of diversity rarely seen in comics previously.
Last year, Geeks OUT, the New York-based LGBTQ geek group that received national attention for their Skip Ender’s Game campaign, started a new queer comic book convention: Flame Con. Their one-day event drew over 2,200 visitors and was the largest queer-focused pop culture expo ever held in New York. Their success has spurred on Flame Con 2, happening in August of 2016.
I spoke to Joey Stern, president of Geeks OUT, about the particulars of Flame Con 2, and what differentiates Flame Con from a general comic book convention.
“At Flame Con, the attendees are people who are a little more like you than other cons,” he stated. “Each table caters to you, and it attracts a higher rate of queer people, artists and creators than other cons.”
Joey also explained that New York City as a location is a big draw for attendees.
“New York City is a huge benefit in bringing out people,” he explained. “We also have a bit more mix of indie and mainstream creators than other queer geek conventions, though GaymerX and Bent-Con are also amazing and people should attend all of them!”
What’s going to be new this year?
“Air conditioning,” he stressed. “Also some bigger names, more panels, and some really cool ideas I can’t discuss just yet.”
GaymerX, the popular Bay Area LGBTQ gaming convention, was a major partner in collaborating with Flame Con. Joey loved their energy and drive, and wanted to introduce NYC to the queer and queer positive game makers that GaymerX had a relationship with.
As one of the founders of a similar group in Seattle, Queer Geek, I wondered what led him to start Geeks Out.
“While I don’t play many games with a big online component, I’m not unaware of the experience my first-person shooter friends can have online,” he explained. “It’s hard to find queers who like your fandoms and it’s hard to find fandoms that have lots of queers. Geeks OUT really strives to connect those communities so you can find people to play with and share your nerd. I co-founded Geeks OUT with the goal of in-real-life friendships becoming digital advocacy.”
Geeks OUT has been incredibly successful in helping create a vibrant geek scene in NYC with multiple monthly gay nerd events. I asked him why these kind of events were important to have:
“Community building works best in person,” Joey declared. “Conventions like this bring together people and lend visibility to queer fandom.”
If you’re a comic fan, cosplayer, or gamer looking for a flamingly queer convention against a NYC backdrop, you should check out Flame Con 2 in 2016! Get your early-bird tickets now!