Experioso conventionatus! It’s time to press your Hogwart’s uniform. LeakyCon is a celebration of all things Harry Potter and its dedicated fandom. It’s so awesome, it’s got two locations this year. One in Portland, Oregon and one in Harry’s neck of the woods, London, England. This Con is a fan frenzy in the best possible way. From fan fiction to Wizard Rock (what, you’ve never heard of Draco and the Malfoys?), LeakyCon has something for every Potter fan. Looks like Luna Lovegood will be there this year, too!
June 27-30, 2013
August 8-11, 2013
I have mentioned FaberryCon before in this column, for two reasons. 1. Faberry, hello? 2. This is a fan organized, grassroots, queer as heck, brand new Con. FaberryCon East had their first convention this February in Atlanta and creator John A. (@jarrow272) is hard at work organizing FaberryCon West. John was kind enough to speak with me about the Con and why niche conventions like this are important.
AE: So John, you are the founder of FaberryCon, a convention that salutes all things Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray. You recently had your first Con, Faberry East. How did this idea even come to fruition?
John A.: FaberryCon was born out of a desire to have more people to talk about Faberry with, plain and simple. My best friend (awesome, fannish musician James Butterworth) brought me into Faberry fandom and then needed to take some time offline, so I had nobody to freak out with once all the season 3 goodness started happening. I was on Tumblr but didn’t really know anyone, and I wanted to change that. I figured there had to be plenty of other people online who wanted to talk in-person with other Faberry fans, and fortunately, I was right!
I’ve gone to plenty of cons both large and small, and I knew of a few scattered ship cons already out there. There have been Kirk/Spock cons, and there was a Rizzles con last year, for instance. But from what I saw, there wasn’t a FaberryCon, so I was excited to be the person to possibly make that happen. My friends run VividCon and PacifiCon (aka Bitchin Party), so I had a great pool of knowledge and resources to pull from, and that helped boost my confidence that I could do it. Considering I originally thought it’d just be five people in my living room, what it’s become is a dream come true.
AE: Why do you think conventions of this sort are important? What is the draw of a niche Con like FC?
JA: The size of it (35 people for East, a cap of 80 people for West) is a truly deciding factor. It sets the tone. It’s about community. It’s not about making a profit or any particular kind of product or meeting celebrities. And in some ways, it’s not even about the actual ship anymore. It’s a process of making new friends and getting to laugh and talk and dance and cry and drink together. You get to know people when you are in panels and room parties and playing games together. You sit with someone new at dinner and talk about god knows what, and you realize you have just met the coolest girl, and you probably would never have met her if you hadn’t come to this con, and how much would that suck?
Fannish people are very often outsiders. We are on the edges of societal norms. Personally, I was bullied extensively as a kid and teenager, so I was drawn to fandom because I preferred these alternate realities to the real world. When you get together and create your own reality, this place where you’re with your own people in your own space, it’s something so precious and important. For so many of us, it’s the only place we can truly be ourselves.
Conventions make the internet come alive. They remind you that there are actual people on the other side of that screenname and tiny icon, and they’re a lot like you….We had people from age 19 to 49 attending, as well as two [trans]guys in a predominantly female space, and everyone was welcomed with open arms.
A vast majority of our attendees had never been to a con before, and they would come to me and say, “John — I didn’t know this was possible. I didn’t know fandom could do this. This has changed my life.” That feeling is something you truly have to experience for yourself; it’s hard to communicate it in words.
If you get the chance to attend a fan con for something you’re interested in, by all means GO. You won’t regret it. If you’re considering undertaking running your own con, find some helpful people you can trust and make it happen. You’ll meet the coolest people you’ve not heard of yet and create lifelong memories. That’s what cons are for.
FaberryCon West – San Fransisco
July 26-28, 2013
So whether you are a hardcore fangirl who wants to take it all in, or a shipper who wants to connect with other fans, Cons have something for everyone. Find one in your hood, or create your own. Remember, anything is possible in fandom. As always, flail on fangirl. Flail on.
Biweekly, Notes on a Fandom will feature a different fandom-centric topic. Stay tuned to my Twitter and Tumblr for updates. I’ll also be looking for your input to include in future columns. Tweet me your thoughts on what you’d like to see covered with the hashtag #notesfandom, and send me links to your Tumblr.