Spencer Wright ’20, Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Known as Washington D.C.’s Comic Con, Awesome Con is back for its fourth year the weekend of June 16th-18th. The usual pop culture festivities are present at this convention, with vendors of all sorts of film, television, videogame, and comic merchandise occupying a huge space in D.C.’s massive convention center. Cosplayers are in abundance, ranging from Steven Universe to Wonder Woman, to name a few. Autograph tables and photo opportunities are running nearly every hour for fans of pop culture favorites like Doctor Who and The Walking Dead. While these convention staples are as fun as ever, where Awesome Con truly surprises and excels is in their push for diversity and inclusion.
In discussions of pop culture, “diversity” is a phrase often tossed around in the effort of seeming inclusive, without any actions made to actually secure progressive change. However, this Pride month, Awesome Con proactively takes a leap from discussion to active participation in inclusivity efforts. The convention does this in several ways: around a dozen panels focusing solely on LGBTQ+ topics, multiple vendors of queer art throughout the convention, and a row of queer-focused artists and organizations labeled “Pride Alley”.
Examples of the queer-centered panels available for attendees are ‘Making LGBT Representation Matter in Fiction’, ‘Queering Cosplay’, and ‘Homophobia in Fandom’. Queer voices are not only encouraged to attend the panels and ask questions to panelists, but are the panelists themselves, creating an atmosphere that is comforting for any queer person. Passionate discussions of a variety of pop culture fixtures are in abundance in these panels- all with the uniquely queer perspective. One panelist explains their frustration with the TV show The 100 during the ‘Homophobia’ panel, citing it as an example of “fake allyship” on behalf of the producers and writers making a controversial decision to sloppily kill a queer character. Another panel, ‘Making LGBT Representation Matter…’ discusses the difference between “good” and “positive” representation of queer characters, a distinction some media products have yet to grasp.
So, why the emphasis on queer inclusion in “geek culture”? As Awesome Con’s website explains, “we look to promote LGBTQ fans within geek culture – strengthening geek culture overall”. The idea of forming a strong bond of folks within a community of shared interests is a heartwarming one, and is one that feels increasingly necessary with the current sociopolitical climate. Being in the heart of the nation’s capitol, and during the heart of LGTBQ+ Pride month, it is easy to see why Awesome Con strives to participate in conversations and actions that some may argue are inherently political. But, where Awesome Con really excels is the ability to engage in these conversations with a foundation of fun, nerdy excitement that all conventions strive to cultivate. At this convention, the encouragement of LGBTQ+ voices- which could easily feel forced or taboo- feels genuine, accessible, and enjoyable. Awesome Con 2017 is three days of nerdy celebration where any and all fans are welcome, and proves that geekdom truly is for everyone.