One of the largest, most popular anime conventions in the U.S.: A-kon, is celebrating its 22nd year today through Sunday at the Sheraton Dallas. Every year the convention is packed with thousands of con-goers who eagerly await the opportunity to meet their favorite voice actors, spend their life savings in the dealer’s room, and take tons of pictures (or have them taken of you, if you’re in costume).
There is so much packed into one weekend at an anime convention that it’s hard to schedule yourself. Every day they hold panels and discussions in the ballrooms, along with autograph sessions, workshops and opportunities to meet famous Asian bands. Every night is a party, whether it’s a rave, the masquerade, a ball, or a concert. They also have the more adult-oriented anime screenings held at night, which are always 18-plus. Don’t try flashing your Sailor Moon Fan Club Membership card, though; these guys require real ID.
Anime conventions attract a diverse group of people, including many who are LGBT. That’s because an anime convention is one of the few places that you can truly be open and express yourself without fear of judgment, no matter what your self-expression may be. There, no one really cares what you do. They’ve got people running around with cat-ear headbands and fur bikinis — who are they to judge?
One popular craze in cosplay — the act of dressing up as a character from a particular anime, video game, movie, whatever — is something called “fan service,” where two willing cosplayers engage in a pretend romance for the amusement of their fans. They pose for pictures holding hands, cuddling, and whatever else the cosplayers may be comfortable with. In fact, it’s become popular within the cosplay community for characters to be paired up with other characters of the same sex, which is called “slash.” So if you were totally thinking that Edward should have hooked up with Jacob, just find two willing cosplayers to pose for you and your dream can come true.
Within the cosplay community, it’s not only accepted but also encouraged for people to take part in public homosexual activity. Two guys kissing sends fangirls into a frenzy but causes the general public to sneer. Honestly, general public, at least we’re not running around in fur bikinis on a regular basis.
Is it the open atmosphere? Is it the fans demanding a good show? Whatever it is, anime conventions are sure to attract the LGBT crowd for a weekend of costumed, Japanese merriment. I will be among them at A-kon, getting my nerd on and wasting all my money. Until then, good ‘morrow.