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.
When you think of Atlanta, Georgia, you’re probably aware of the “Hotlanta” moniker, with a thriving, nationally known queer club scene. They also have an active queer geek community, including one of the longest-running queer conventions in the country, Outlantacon. It’s been around for eight years, and focused on the LGBTQ community for the last several of those, continuing to grow and represent the Atlanta community.
I spoke with Edward DeGruy, the convention chair, about what makes Outlantacon unique. While we’ve covered a lot of queer conventions at Jetspace Magazine, I had never heard of a convention incorporating game shows before.
“We do so many versions of Match Game, To Tell A Lie, Hollywood Squares and the like,” he explained. “It’s a riot and the night-time is a party.”
Gaming is also a huge priority for Outlantacon, with 24/7 gaming in a huge game room. But Outlantacon’s overall focus is broad.
“Our requirements are only that our guests are out within the industry, or they are allies producing queer material in the industry,” Edward stated. “For example, we have had David Yost, who is out, and Amber Benson, who played a lesbian on Buffy. So we tend to have different themes each year depending on guests. This year is more anime and sci-fi.”
Every year, Outlantacon brings strong industry guests. Barbara Goodson is this year’s guest of honor, an actress known for her voice work on the cartoons Cloud Bread, Clone Wars, and Avatar, as well as Rita Repulsa on the original Power Rangers show. Check the website for a complete list of this year’s guests.
Outlantacon also grows bigger every year, bringing growing pains that Edward happily accepts.
“We now have so many guests and vendors wanting to come, we have to do a juried list and decide every year who to have and who to rotate to another year,” he confirmed. “It’s a great problem to have!”
Of course, beyond the convention, Atlanta is a top-notch vacation destination spot.
“It has everything!” Edward exclaimed. “World class museums and the largest aquarium in the world, better food than anywhere, in my humble opinion, and clubs of every sort to satisfy every whim. And for those less outgoing, great 24 hour hang out spots where you can just read or make new friends.”
“Our convention nightlife is just as wild as the city,” he added. “Or if you are all science fiction-ed out and want a different scene, it’s just a cab ride away.”
Of course, producing a convention is incredibly difficult. Edward indicated that getting stars to come out for Outlantacon was a big hurdle.
“Stars are so used to making big money at the big cons, they think we are too small to be worth their time,” he admitted. “We are a relaxicon. We are not huge and busy. Our people tend not to want autographs and pictures. They just want to meet them, say hi, and go back to the con parties and programming. The stars do not understand: ‘Hey, come to Atlanta, do a few panels and have a mini vacation on us.’ They are so used to sitting at a table all day signing and never really meeting anyone. Our guests tend to hang out with the other attendees and have fun.”
New this year is the Outlantacon Film Festival.
“The Outlantacon Film Festival is the brainchild of Richard Hempton, a local director and casting agent,” Edward described. “He is gathering a selection of films that showcase the same sort of content the con does. It will be great fun! I know watching the movies for the selection process has been a blast for me personally.”
While Edward feels all cons are important as they all highlight something, Outlantacon is specifically important because it showcases queer content in genres that until recently were very underrepresented.
“The great thing about our convention is our 95% return rate,” Edward pointed out. “Once people come to our show, they keep coming back.”
So check out Outlantacon on May 13-15 for an unparalleled “relaxicon” experience!
Just for our readers, you can use the code JETSPACE to get $10 off the price of admission when you register. Hope to see you there!