FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Let’s Talk About The Pros of Queer Cons

Hello, it’s me, Valerie Anne the Tired, back from two weekends in a row of being at conventions comprised either mostly or entirely of queer people, and I’m here to tell you that the exhaustion is worth it.

I’ve been going to cons for about five years now; I started with New York Comic Con, because I’m a dive-into-the-deep-end kind of person, and it was overwhelming, but very fun. And also very, very straight. One con (pun intended) of writing professionally about queer TV is that sometimes you forget that straight people watch TV too, and are fans of it, and are plentiful. So I’ll admit it was my own fault, but I was surprised when Orphan Black cosplay was few and far between, for example. And while there was some really cool gender bending going on, a lot of the shows my friends and I loved the most felt underrepresented. Granted, it made for a fun scavenger hunt (finding a Cosima amongst the Negans that first year was a DELIGHT, let me tell you), especially while walking the vendor hall, and after my initial slap from reality, it felt just like any other day. These might be mostly straight nerds, but they’re still nerds, so they’re still my people.

Cut to a few years later when I discover FlameCon. It was a pocket-sized NYCC but only for queer people! Queer nerds everywhere! It was my heaven. The vendor hall was full of the ships I shipped, all was well. This year’s FlameCon was no different, and it had no shortage of Anne Lister and She-Ra/Catra cosplayers. And the weekend before I was at EH Con, a Wynonna Earp convention, where there was an entire panel dedicated to the two queer couples on the show, and the room was filled to the brim.

So I want to hear about your queer con experiences. (Spoiler alert: You being queer and at any con counts, it doesn’t have to be a queer con.) Tell me about the queerest coolest cosplay you’ve ever done or seen, tell me about a time you thought you were in a panel for a show you assumed would be super straight and you got some bonus gay (for me it was Legacies), tell me about how you carved out a queer corner for yourselves in a not-explicitly-queer con (I find traveling in packs helps with this). Basically I want to talk about cons with you because I’m a big nerd and these two cons I went to were only cons 4 and 5 of the year, I’ll have hit 7 by the time the year’s out. OR if you really want to go to a con but have questions or concerns, throw them out there and we’ll help each other the best we can!

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 548 articles for us.


  1. Love this open thread! My favorite queer con is not actually explicitly queer. It’s The Granger Leadership Academy – The Harry Potter Alliance’s yearly leadership conference! It’s part fan convention part activist/leadership training. If you don’t know, the HPA is a nonprofit that uses the power of story to engage people in activism (I’ve been a HPA volunteer for 3 years!).

    GLA was my probably first truly queer normative space (because both Harry Potter & activism are very gay). Everyone wears name tags and pronoun stickers, there are gender inclusive bathrooms, no one touches anyone without verbal consent (i.e. asking “are you a hug person” etc). Attendees range from tweens to 60+ to make a badass intergenerational activist space. It warms my heart so much to hear a 13 year old talking about starting a GSA at their school and a 40 year old talking about gender transition at work at the same table. We all have so much to learn from each other!

    ANYWAY, I love the Harry Potter Alliance and GLA and will talk about it constantly if anyone is interested. I LOVE HARRY POTTER AND BEING GAY.

  2. I’ve only been to LA ComicCon but I’m thinking of going to ClexaCon 2020. I figured that even if I don’t like the experience I can always have fun in Vegas…

    • If I won the lottery and money was no longer an object I would want to go to a local comic-con in every state.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a con, but have been to a few auto shows. I did see Jeff Koons famed Color BMW Art car, but sadly yet to see Andy Warhol one, yet. Still kicking myself for missing the BMW Art Car exhibit at the local museum, which had the Warhol one.

    How’s everyone’s week going? I am getting over a weird summer cold so I am been couching and sneezing a storm. Otherwise, it’s been a weird week for me. An ex close friend emailed me and apologized for some of her actions, which was a weird surprise as the last time she spoke to me was when she tried to invite me to her wedding a few years back, which I politely said no. Long story short we are now FB friends & came out to her again, and she called it a “fantasy I had.” Corrected her by saying not a fantasy, but my reality and life. Being a trans queer is not some fantasy, in some ways a complicated reality I live in. I also mentioned my current bff/gal-pal(in the good queer way) in a glow-up way. She’s happy for me. It’s also very obvious she & her partner are a very white cis-het couple, despite her not even being white. I think keeping it FB friends is best for my health as there is way too much family drama there. I think all the advice I’ve read here has been very useful.

    I had plans to be at the beach Sunday morning, but the buyer for what I was selling never showed up so my time was wasted there. I also got a haircut, but the stylist sadly didn’t understand the trans girl butch cut I was going for & it came out meh, the best way I can describe it. In positive news, the project bicycle I was working on is finished & I did most of the work myself. Modern bike brakes scared me, so I let a pro shop take care of it. The teacher at the co-op complimented my green Autostraddle pin and he asked where others can find it. The place also being near Silverlake/Echo Park a lot of attractive women do work on their bike there, FYI. Not to ride this weekend and install a cage to hold my Autostraddle flask!

    Thank you for reading my post. Have a positive weekend!

    • A few years ago I had an ex friend reach out to apologize and it was WILD. Sorry it’s still a little messy, and I agree, I totally see the value in keeping people Facebook friends only.

      • It really is. Like thank you for being a friend then, but I am a different person from when you knew me.

    • One of my ex’s modeled at car shows, and she did the LA show a few times. I flew out to meet her after the ’02 show (I think she was working the Aztec or Avalanche display) in LA and we broke up after that. I haven’t heard from her in years, but I wouldn’t mind catching up. Last I heard she opened an aesthetics salon in Boulder.
      I haven’t let anyone else cut my hair in years for exactly this reason!
      I got micro panniers for my bike that are both cute and functional. You got any pictures of your bike to share yet?

      • Fun fact, in the automotive world the Aztec was ranked as one of the ugliest cars ever. For some it was useful as the back has a built-in tent feature. Rosie O’Donnell had one when she was doing her show.

        What is an aesthetic salon? I don’t have pics atm, but will next week.

        • Yeah all the other models would make fun of her assignment when we got together at the sushi bar. She did her whole spiel for us and the “transformer” shit she had to hype up for people was hilarious. All those horny dudes coming over and acting interested in the truck so she’d talk to them…
          Anyway, she had skin problems, so I guess once she found stuff that helped her she parlayed it into her own business doing skin care and got her esthetician’s license. I haven’t stalked her in a while to see how that’s been going, but she seemed happy.
          Looking forward to your pics!

          • That’s good to hear she was able to make lemonades from lemons so to speak.

            Will share for sure next week. Excited to ride it Sunday, just need it to find the right seatpost.

  4. Hot take: Flamecon feels like spitting in the face of everyone that said D*shcon didn’t work because there were too many queer people.

    (It didn’t work for a LOT of reasons but that was never one. And I love how Flamecon keeps getting bigger and better every year.)

    • This year I went to a panel about queer witches and it was one of the best panels I’ve ever been to at a con full stop.

    • Someone actually said that? Fuck that noise. BallPitCon failed because it was being run by children and very young adults who prized fealty to specific fandoms and being Tumblr’s version of Big Name Fans over having the slightest idea of how to create and run a con.

    • Me and a normal type person at the bondage booth

      I had just done a strip show where I cut my dress off with knives.

    • Working a different event at the bondage booth, and a different normal range human.

      oh for scale the display racks behind me are six feet tall.

    • Oh and my mythical Mad Max getup back in the Detroit days

      Did the Woodward Dream Cruise count as a con? Al says yes

        • Ha thank you thank you, feels good to share these photos again. I really only get validation from communities I respect, and since my Tumblr crowd disappeared, Instagram has felt like a hollow attempt at replacing it. Getting a whoa or two on here actually means something though!

    • Did I build a breast plate with boob cups? OFC I did. Was my makeup AMAZING? Yes! Thanks to Queen Bee Detroit for bashing me with the beauty stick.

      And that pole I’m clutching was almost twelve feet long

  5. My absolute favorite con every year is 221b Con in April in Atlanta, aka “This started as a (mostly BBC) Sherlock con and there’s still Holmes content but now it’s mostly the con we attend to hang out with the people we met through Sherlock fandom.”

    It’s smallish. It’s one hotel and a few hundred people. But I attend every year, even though I gotta fly across the country and I haven’t cared about Sherlock in yeeears.

    It’s not….specifically a queer con. But it’s a queer con. It’s like 95% queer women/nb’s. (I pulled that number out of my ass but trust me.) People have hooked up at that con. People have gotten engaged and married at that con. And I’ve cosplayed a femme!Sherlock and Steven Universe characters and a League of Legends character and always had a blast.

    That con has some of the most supportive, friendly, amazing people I’ve ever met. I look forward to it every year!! The panels range from writing fanfiction as a way of working through trauma, to talking about other fandoms, to historical costume making, to BDSM. The artist room is full of good stuff and I always end up going over my budget! There’s always fandom-based games of Cards Against Humanity in the lounge, there’s always someone knitting, there’s a karaoke night and a dance party and on Sunday evening half of us are in the pool.

    I also attend the Steven Universe con–it used to be Beach City Con but changed locations and is now Empire City Con. It definitely has less of a feeling of being one big friend group; there’s a heck of a lot more families. But it’s definitely a queer-friendly space!

  6. The only one I’ve been to is WisCon, the feminist science fiction con in Madison. It was pretty great, but I think I was too shy to really get into it the way I would have liked to. Maybe this year I’ll work up my courage and jump into things more.

    As an introverted person, going into a space where everyone seems to know each other already, it just isn’t clear to me how to do anything except stand on the sidelines and gaze longingly for many of these things.

  7. The very first time a stranger ever asked me for my pronouns was at AnimeNEXT. I was wearing a homemade Derse Prince Dirk Strider cosplay and waving a Derse flag on a curtain rod with a papier-mache head staked on the top. It was peak ‘Stuck season and people cheered to see me.

    Someone ran after me when I passed through the courtyard and asked, “Excuse me! Do you have a Tumblr? And what are your pronouns??”

    I felt so SEEN.

    We were friends for years, after that.

  8. I’ve been going to cons my whole life (my dad’s been running them since the 90s), and they’ve always been an important space for me. The first place I started experimenting with gender presentation was cons, because cosplay gave me that opportunity. And the first time I used the correct bathroom was at a con, because there was enough genderfuckery going on that I wasn’t afraid somebody would tell me I was in the “wrong” bathroom and kick me out

    • God the bathroom thing, always the fucking bathroom thing. I would bust my bladder out rather than use a public restroom for most of my life. Now I pee every day at work! yay… and yay for cons for giving you space to try it out safely!

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