Aug 21, 2016

Flamecon 2: Day One

Last year, when I heard of Flamecon, as it was described to me: Comicon for the gays (lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, and queer), I was super upset to know that it was a one day event happening just down the street from where I would be singing an engagement at the Brooklyn Museum for the Tyler Clementi foundation. It was a very important concert that focused on the seriousness of cyber bullying performed by none other than the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, with whom I am a member. The chorus geeks and gaymers, as we call ourselves, all tried to think of ways in which we could finish the concert and then make it out to Flamecon. It was no use. The call time was too late, the show was an hour and a half, then we would have to change out of our clothes, go somewhere to prepare any cosplay, because you know we would do it, and then find our way to the venue where Flamecon was, buy tickets, get in, and enjoy. It was just too much.

So that October, one of our chorus DMs, Dennis, posted, in a secret group, that Flamecon 2 tickets were available and that we should all cash in on the great deal they were having: just 35 dollars for a weekend pass, including the party. We all purchased our tickets and laughed: "It's so far off... Summer 2016? Ok, gurl..."

Fast forward to the end of July. The 2015-16 season has just wrapped up, and we're all on choral vacation! We had just returned
from the gay choir olympics in Denver when Dennis reminded us that Flamecon 2 was soon approaching. "Didn't I buy tickets for that?", "You should have... we all did...", "Check your email, if you did, you should have a receipt.", "Yeah... I remember them emailing a couple of months ago me asking if I planned on actually attending the party." It was confirmed: Flamecon 2 was on.

A mere weekend before Flamecon 2 would begin, our group started making plans. "Who is cosplaying, and as what?", "Should we come up with a few arrangements and sing there?" (the answer was a unanimous no. As great as that would be, we're on vacation from singing: period), the excitement was growing, the anticipation building. And then the day came!

I have been covering various cons on the east coast for around 5 years now. Sometimes just as a member of the press, some times as a special guest moderator for a panel, or as a speaker, but this was my first LGBTQ themed geek/gaymer/nerd culture related con, period, and my excitement for it was just as great as my first New York Comic Con. I made my way two stops down the 4 train (I got lucky, this con happens in Brooklyn, right where I live), and walked the rest of the way to the Marriott hotel. I arrived just as they were letting participants enter. After a bag check and minimal waiting in line, I was on the show floor. This was greater than I imagined, and according to people who had attended Flamecon 1, greater in size (more than double) than the previous year.

My first stop was booth 100, with Cheap Dates Press, a cute couple (I'm not sure if they were actually a couple, but they were two people, is what I mean), that started creating zines one winter break when they were bored.  I learned a lot about zine culture, why they were/are used, about how zines are making a comeback, and most importantly, what a zine is. These two were very nice, and were pretty much the standard by which I measured everyone else at the con, which, I am happy to report, most everyone was just as pleasant.

Part of nerd/geek culture (a stereotype that has some truth as a lot of stereotypes do) is that we are socially awkward and that it is difficult for us to communicate with each other (break the ice). This has proven especially true for some people during my coverage of past cons (Pax East, NYCC). I'll never forget when I met the developer behind the indie game Mini Metro. Here was a game that I had spent countless hours on, and I was meeting its creator, and the guy was just as awkward as they came, no media training, no charm whatsoever. Bless his heart. And that's no shade. It's just the way it is for many people in our realm, and it is for that very reason why I put myself forward and make conversation (despite the fact that I, too, am sometimes scared shitless when introducing myself to people). I say all of that to say that I was even more comfortable at this con when it came to introducing myself (well, except for when I was trying to talk to guys that I thought were attractive/ I was trying to flirt with (I'm looking at you Zelda character at the Gaymer Web Series panel -_-') then I completely bomb) and I believe that it was easy for others too, as I had 99% non-awkward conversations with exhibitors and con goers alike.

As to be expected at any con regarding our nerd/geek culture, there was cosplay, and it was great. I love us. We're so creative. Everything from anime, to videogames, to movies/tv, comics and everything in between was represented.

I spotted my favorite villain of all time, Maleficent, as well as one of my favorite Final Fantasy villains, Edea. I guess I have a thing for sorceresses/ evil magical women. 

There were also some famous people present, both exhibiting and cosplaying. Admittedly, I do not watch RuPaul's Drag Race, but as I bravely approached an excellent Cammy cosplayer, and asked for their instagram, my friends pulled me back and said "do you NOT know who that is!?!!?", "Nope... Is it someone famous?"........

It was Daxclamation

Panels at this con were great, and as mentioned earlier, I have heard that there has been a great improvement over last year (which was successful in its own right from what I read). The con came with its own scheduling app, so I was able to see what it had to offer and mark the panels that I wanted to attend ahead of time. The schedule was manageable, it was not overwhelming like other larger cons, and I particularly enjoyed this. Panels that I attended all had to do with diversity in one form or another within the realm of comics/ entertainment/ media, however, there were other types of panels as well. I was glad that diversity panels were present, though. 

It is always important to continue the conversations surrounding marginalized communities, and I learned a lot about many things, including, but not limited to Problematic Favorites (an awesome panel). I was also very intrigued greatly by a web series about Gaymers panel and even had some great conversation with the panelists afterward (wanna work with you guys in the future). 

 I am sure that in the coming years this con will gain even more popularity and become even larger, and I will be happy for it when it does. However, quite honestly, I am happy with the size it is right now. Right now, Flamecon is in that "small big city" feel for me. People came from far and wide to be here (I came from down the street, but whatever) and I feel that this crowd is serious about its support. I saw a lot of money changing hands as con goers purchased clothing, artwork, and souvenirs all Queer inspired and it made my spirit happy. 

A few constructive criticisms about Flamecon from my end would be very very simple things that would give this con the feeling it needs for its core parts. The room in which events happen, i.e. the "Opening Ceremony" and cosplay contests needs to have chairs so that there isn't a lot of chatter and disorder during important moments (cosplay winners being announced). As for the opening ceremony itself, it needs to be more of a ceremony. I expected more of a welcome and a speech on why this event was important so that we could all pat ourselves on the back for being there and feeling represented. Instead, I got a poetry/ fanfic reading, and something that seemed like an Off Off Broadway rip off of Little Shop of Horrors (I'm still not sure exactly what that was). Other than that, I would also like to see more video games in the game room. From what I saw, they had Smash, and that was it. 

Again, with this feedback, and the feedback I am sure that other con goers will provide, I know that Flamecon 3 will be 200% better next year, and I'm certainly looking forward to it. Finally a place where I feel like I belong, and not necessarily for the "because we're all LGBTQ" reason, but because the atmosphere is so conducive to introductions and networking, and nobody is too big for their britches. 

I know this post is called "Flamecon 2: Day 1" but I think I've covered what I will cover for the entirety of the con in this post. If something huge happens tomorrow, perhaps I will cover it. However, I plan on cosplaying for Day 2. Here's a big hint as to who I will be: 

additional pics: 
Yes, that is Cynthia from Rugrats
X People

NYCGMC x Daxclamation

If you see this, please contact me... ;)

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