Over the past few years, the world of comics has gotten a lot more friendly towards the queer community. We’ve gone from having a couple token gay characters to having teams like the Young Avengers made up almost entirely of queer characters. While queer visibility might be up in the nerd community this doesn’t mean acceptance has followed at the same rate. The tragic events in Orlando this past year reminded many of us that bigotry has deadly consequences.
But one place everyone is sure to be welcome is Flame Con. In it’s second year, Flame con is a convention specifically for queer nerds. It throws a spotlight on Queer creators and offers a safe space for an underserved community. Entering the event, con goers are welcomed with tables of stickers where you can choose which pronoun you prefer. Simple things like this signal to everyone that no matter what group you belong to you’re welcome in this space. It’s a celebration of everything queer and nerdy. We sat down with Joey Stern one of the founders of Geeks OUT, the organization that brought Flame Con into being to find out more about what it’s like to run the country’s only queer nerd convention.
What prompted you to start Flame con?
When we started Geeks OUT we wanted to create queer spaces at larger cons, after 4 years of that work, we wanted to make a Queer space at an entire con. It seemed a great way to bring together all the people we’ve met over the years and introduce them to each-other in a safe space filled with cool artists.
What have you learned in two years of doing Flame con and what do you think you’ll do differently in the future?
We’ve learned how to plan a bit further out since people start asking for tickets a year ahead of time. We also are always thinking how we can make the experience more inclusive and improve it overall. This year, AC and a better more accessible venue was the big jump, next year? Not sure yet!
How did the decision to ban representations of guns in cosplay come about and what was the community response to it?
We wanted to make a statement, say that we don’t need weapons to have a good time. People were amazing about it.
What do you think sets Flame Con apart from other conventions?
Our queer focus makes it a lot more comfortable for a lot of folks, safer vibe and a nicer atmosphere for people slightly off the normative gender spectrum. We also have the most amazing queer artists.
What’s been the most rewarding part of running Flame con?
People’s faces throughout the day, seeing everyone just happy to be there.
Any upcoming events or plans for next year you’d like fans to know about?
Flame Con will return August 2017: http://www.flamecon.org/