Move aside, heteronormative heroes, and make way for FLAME CON: a queer-focused comic convention planned for 2015. We all know the importance of representation and diversity in media – we are Black Nerd Problems, after all – and there’s nothing better than a convention to socialize, celebrate, and discuss inclusion of the LGBTQ community comics and media. FLAME CON is being planned by Geeks OUT, an organization dedicated to empowering and supporting the queer geek community, but there’s a lot to be done before the new con becomes a reality. We talked with Geeks OUT about the new con on the block.
Black Nerd Problems: How did Geeks OUT get started?
Geeks OUT: Geeks OUT was founded just after New York Comic Con in 2010. Based on the leftover energy from the one LGBTQ panel at the Con that year, the founding members – five geeky friends – recognized there was a true community that just needed a home-base and maybe for someone really to name it. In the past handful of years we’ve seen the representation of being a geek – and being queer, and being a queer geek – change so much that now we can plan a whole convention for LGBTQ fans, not just one panel.
BNP: What is the mission of Geeks OUT, and what types of events have you done in the past?
Geeks OUT: Gathering and empowering a community was first and foremost our mission, which we largely accomplished through monthly events centered around events in NYC, everything from geeky burlesque to a Game of Thrones-themed bar crawl to an archery tag outing this month called “Katniss Envy.” Exhibiting at conventions, especially NYCC, has also been one of our main goals because of the impact of representation. We’ve been at every NYCC since and have traveled to Boston Comic Con, C2E2 in Chicago, and we’ve even got a booth at Bent-Con this weekend in LA.
BNP: Where did the idea for FLAME CON come from?
Geeks OUT: New York is home to so much queer history and geek lore that it seems crazy that we don’t already have a queer con. FLAME CON is here to fix that. We know not everybody can make the trip out west to Bent-Con or GaymerX, so we’re bringing that same fantastic energy here to our local community of queer fans and allies here in New York, which also happens to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement and the comic book industry.
Geeks OUT: We’re looking at venue options now but are concentrating a lot of our energy on spreading the word about the Kickstarter campaign. Our goal is for FLAME CON to happen in New York in the spring of 2015.
BNP: How would you describe the importance of an LGBTQ comic convention?
Geeks OUT: Any con is important. Our community can only benefit from a dedicated place to gather, geek out, and make connections with each other, as well as with activists, artists, creators, performers, publishers, and vendors who want to engage with our community. Plus, oh my god, think of the cosplay!
Geeks OUT: There’s geek media and there’s mainstream geek media, as in Hollywood, Marvel Comics, and The Big Bang Theory. LGBTQ representation and creativity is thriving in the indie comics scene and online. Geeks OUT is producing its first-ever original comic, an anthology of new queer art and stories called POWER!, that will debut at FLAME CON this spring. It features an exciting, diverse selection of queer artists making really great, new art with LGBTQ characters and themes.
BNP: How do you measure success for a new con like this one? Number of attendees? Informing perceptions of LGBTQ nerds?
Geeks OUT: First we need the Kickstarter to succeed! The first of any of its kind succeeds to a degree just in happening, so this is something we really want to bring to New York.
BNP: Aside from donating to the Kickstarter, how can people help?
Geeks OUT: Folks are already reaching out through the Kickstarter with offers to help us promote FLAME CON and spread the word. That’s what we need now, to keep the momentum going, is for everyone to like the page, share links, tweet, reblog on Tumblr, and Facebook—we’re halfway to our goal already. Artists and creators, publishers and vendors, and anyone who’d be interested in participating in FLAME CON can also reach out.
BNP: What’s next after FLAME CON?
Geeks OUT: Besides FLAME CON and putting the finishing touches on POWER!, next are a couple of local events in New York, including our annual holiday party, and a comic book “Yankee Swap” to thank our supporters and volunteers for another great year.
Conventions are the quintessential place to celebrate and share your fandom, and FLAME CON will give highlight to queer, queer-positive artists and creators to share their work. Care to support? Consider donating to their Kickstarter. For those in the NYC area, a $15 pledge even gets you a ticket to the show – a steal by most New York convention standards. Tell a friend, spread the word, and get excited: FLAME CON is happening.