New events ‘meant to fill a void’
HavenCon, the LGBT comic book and gaming convention, returns to Austin this month for its second year.
Last year’s inaugural event drew 1,200 attendees from across the country in two days. This year’s event includes tournaments, cosplay events, pop culture panels and a celebrity poker match benefiting TransLifeLine.org.
“It’s been a great year with a lot of hard work, and we’re proud to show off the amazing amount of events, panels, performances and guest appearances we have slated for this our second year,” said conference organizer Shane Brown. “I also couldn’t be more excited about our newest addition, the Celebrity Poker Match where we will be playing a game of poker to help raise funds for this year’s charity, Trans Life Line.”
Brown, who founded the social networking group Gay Austin Geeks in 2012, has added another, more serious series of events to the roster, called After Hours.
The After Hours line-up features fetish groups and other more taboo topics. Representatives from pup, gear and other fetish communities will talk about their communities. Other After Hours events include non-geek, more LGBT-focused discussions as well. For example, Planned Parenthood will be on site to talk about safer sex and alternative forms of contraception.
“Imagine you’re watching the Pride parade and you see a group or organization you want to know more about or hear them talk about what it is they represent. You can’t really do that by running out in the street, and they might have a booth at the festival, but no real programming is set around them,” he said.
“After Hours is that time when we can all let our hair down and talk about the more risqué, taboo and adult-type things. We think the culture of HavenCon, as a safe space and judgment-free environment, lends itself to these conversations in a great way for people to explore more parts of themselves in a constructive and safe manner,” Brown added.
After Hours events may also be overtly political: “It’s also a great forum for political movements, safer sex organizations and more to come and speak on what matters to them,” the organizer said.
The gaming and geek communities are known for accepting all types of people, including the LGBT community and fetish groups. However, Brown said, that doesn’t mean everyone is over the proverbial rainbow.
“I think we’ve come a long way in this area, but unfortunately, just like with any LGBT issue, we still have progress to make. We support various fandoms [online or at any other conventions] but sometimes we do so without real representation,” Brown said.
Without representation, issues impacting the LGBT community may not be recognized.
“Online and real life bullying are still a real issue, and it’s just nice to know that no matter what, we have a place to go to feel like we can fully be ourselves,” Brown said. “This is the sort of conversation we promote at HavenCon.”
HavenCon takes place from April 22-24 at Holiday Inn Midtown in Austin. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Children 10 and under can attend for free. Tickets are available at the door.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2016.