First Texas LGBT gaming convention to be held in Austin in April 2015

Haven Con, the first LGBT geek and gaming convention of Texas, announced it will hold its inaugural convention Saturday, April 4-Sunday, April 5, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 3.31.23 PMMidtown in Austin.

According to a statement, this is the first LGBT geek and gaming convention held in Texas.

Shane Brown, founder of Haven Con, has been working to bring sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming enthusiasts of the LGBTQA community together since 2012 when he started the social networking group Gay Austin Geeks. Brown said, “Even within the gay community, we often exist within our smaller segmented groups. But comic and gaming conventions are all about the melding of geeks, gamers and nerds of every size, race, age and gender identity.”

Brown continued, “With Haven Con, we’re creating a safe, entertaining and diversity-welcoming environment for people that enjoy comic books, video games, science fiction and more. We’ll have a cosplay contest, gaming tournaments, industry panelists, local artists and writers—all of it while celebrating what makes us both different and special.”

Current sponsors and vendors include Nakatomi Incorporated, Finji Games, Weird Girls, Austin Books & Comics, Monkeys Need Love Too, Kitchen Overload, Outrageous Outfits, Sew Geek Austin, and Gamers Beard. For information on becoming a sponsor, panelist or vendor, visit or email Shane(at)HavenConTx(dot)com.

Haven Con is currently running a fundraiser to assist with equipment, event and production costs. For more information or to donate, visit the Haven Con fundraiser on Indiegogo.

Proceeds of Haven Con will go to OutYouth, which is a non-profit organization providing services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth ages 12 to 19 in Austin and central Texas.

Voice contributing writer Chaka Cumberbatch has written about LGBT geeks and gamers extensively, most recently for our Sept. 19 issue.

—  James Russell

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman says there’s no evidence Oak Lawn arsons were hate crime

A ball of fire engulfs a Jeep behind an apartment complex at 3901 Hall St. in Oak Lawn early Wednesday. (Shane Brown/Special to Dallas Voice)

A Dallas-Fire Rescue spokesman said today that investigators have no reason to believe a string of arsons in the heart of Oak Lawn early Wednesday was motivated by anti-gay bias.

D-FR spokesman Jason Evans said the three fires, which were intentionally set near Reagan and Hall Streets at about 2 a.m. Wednesday, remain under investigation.

The first blaze destroyed a Jeep that was parked outside an apartment complex at 3901 N. Hall St. The second blaze damaged a detached garage behind the Landmark Salon at 3829 N. Hall St.  The suspect unsuccessfully attempted to start a third fire by sticking a burning item through the front door of the apartment complex.

Evans said investigators have a suspect description but are not releasing it to the public.

“They’re still in their process of interviewing potential witnesses and determining whether or not their testimony is going to be useful in their investigation,” Evans said this afternoon. “As far as I know, there haven’t been any additional fires in that area.”

Anyone with information about the fires should call CrimeStoppers at 877-373-8477.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Arsonist strikes the gayborhood

This Jeep was destroyed in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 3901 N. Hall St. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Authorities are looking for a suspect who they believe intentionally set two fires — and attempted to set a third — near the Cedar Springs strip early Wednesday.

The fires broke out around 2 a.m. at 3901 N. Hall St. and 3829 N. Hall St., on either side of Reagan Street less than a block from Cedar Springs. The first fire destroyed a Jeep that was parked in the lot of the apartment complex at 3901 N. Hall St. The suspect also tried to set fire to the apartment complex itself – by sticking a burning item through the front door — but someone extinguished it, according to reports.

Across Reagan Street, a blaze that broke out moments later destroyed the contents of a detached garage and apartment behind a residence at 3829 N. Hall St. No one was living in the second-floor apartment.

A second fire destroyed the contents of a detached garage across Reagan Street at 3829 N. Hall St. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

“They [investigators] do believe that the same person caused all three of these fires,” Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans told Instant Tea today. “They interviewed several witnesses including the owner of the Jeep and his girlfriend and several other witnesses. They have a [suspect] description from credible witnesses that they’re going off of now.”

Evans said investigators aren’t releasing the suspect description or additional information about the blazes. However, he said they don’t believe the fires were set by the driver of a yellow Volkswagen Bug, as suggested earlier by one witness.

Shane Brown, who lives in the apartment complex at 3901 Hall and was awakened by the blazes, said he thinks the incidents may have been a hate crime.

“Most people, even if they’re from out of town, know what area this is,” Brown said. “Something in my gut tells me it was definitely hate-crime orientated, so hopefully they catch them.”

Omar Semper said he owns the house at 3829 N. Hall St. and has lived there with his partner for the last 13 years. He said they used the garage — as well as the upstairs apartment — for storage.

“Everything’s destroyed,” Semper said. “Everything.”

Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 877-373-8477. For more photos from the fires, see our previous post.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Car arsons in Oak Lawn this morning


Reader Shane Brown, who lives near Reagan and Hall streets in Oak Lawn, sent over these photos of what he says were multiple vehicle fires in the neighborhood early this morning. We’ve got messages in to both Dallas Fire-Rescue and the Dallas Police Department seeking more info, but for now, Brown’s full report is below. Let’s hope we’re not in for a repeat of the Oak Cliff vehicle arson spree of 2008.

Last night at about 2 am I woke up to the sound of a horn going off. At first I thought it was just some person who had fallen asleep drunk on their steering wheel (it happens a lot living off the strip). Eventually though I decided I should investigate. When I peeked outside my window I discovered a blazing fireball about 50 ft away. Someone had set my straight neighbors jeep on fire! The fire department arrived and quickly doused the flames. Everything calmed down and we all went back into our separate apartments and I tried to calm down and fall back to sleep. Within about an hour, fire trucks had pulled up outside of my window again. This time they were across the street. I looked out just as they were bashing in a garage door and flames lashed out at them. This was starting to get strange. After they put the fire out and we all decided we were ok I went to get something from Walgreen to drink. Talking to the person at the counter he explained that there was another vehicle that had been set fire. I can honestly say, I’ve seen and heard some things happening in this neighborhood. But this was the first time I did not feel safe. I hope they catch the person. It’s said a Yellow VW Bug with NM license plates was seen each time one of these fires happened. So keep your eyes out everyone.

—  John Wright