The Sheraton in Times Square had the most excitement it has encountered in years with the presentation of Flame Con. FC is a brainchild of Geeks Out, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and uplifting queer nerds. FC is a convention built on the foundation of helping queer humans from all backgrounds flourish in the media, arts, pop culture, and pretty much everything else you can think of. It is a convention for EVERYONE (family-friendly environment and accessible for differently abled people), with panels, workshops, fun 21+ parties with burlesque performances, and an unparalleled Artist’s Alley where your money will go towards supporting brilliantly talented people. I was also pleasantly happy to see so many cosplayers out and about showing love for all sorts of fictional characters.
Walking through the Artist’s domain, I was stunned by the colorful prints, captivating literature, and super cute keychains, pins, and stickers that were on display. I have been to TONS of conventions in the past, but I can honestly say the Flame Con probably had the most outstanding display of work I have seen at a con in a very long time. There were so many books and zines that focused on LGBTQ characters, something I didn’t have growing up. It was so heartwarming to see these types of creations being spotlighted. Representation matters.
There was a variety of Queer-focused panels this year, and I attended two amazing ones: The Big Gay Sensational Animational Hour) with Nicole Gitau, Shadi Petosky, Hamish Steele, Noelle Stevenson) and Steven Universe: Gay Space Rocks (with Judith Fisch, Katy Farina, Grace Kraft, and Natalie Reichel). I was an able to get an inside look on what it is like to be a creative with a corporate landscape, working with big names like BBC and Netflix. I loved hearing how these artists are changing the platforms to be inclusive for content that shows children and adults the LGBTQ people exist.
I am not an avid SU fan, but being in that space where queer people were able to discuss how Rebecca Sugar’s critically acclaimed show has changed the animation game and revolutionized cartoons was tear-inducing. Steven Universe is a show that portrays nuanced characters in ever-changing situations that reflect the real-life struggles and triumphs and queer people. It touched on mental health, neuro-divergency, heartbreak, toxic coping mechanisms, independence, and so much more. It is shows like this that stress how important animation is as a way to reach not just children, but adults who never had content that related to them growing up.
Flame Con, while smaller than other big name conventions in the same city, was full of love, happiness, passion, and fierce loyalty to the ideas of inclusivity and diversity. It was a weekend of celebration of the existence of fantastic queer people. I am so happy I was able to witness it, and I know they are going to come back next year bigger and better than ever.
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