Entertainment » Culture

Get Out Your Gay Geek at ’Bent-Con’

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Nov 8, 2013

What do you get when you combine the camaraderie of a Pride Festival with the balls-to-the-wall geekiness of Comic-Con? Why Bent-Con of course; the quintessential meeting place for gays who prefer spending their days watching "Star Wars" and playing with their Wii! (Euphemism unintentional, but entirely appropriate.)

Founded in 2010 by Sean Z. Maker, Bent-Con is a non-profit organization created to "recognize, celebrate, and encourage LGBTQ and our (un-gay) allies' contributions to pop-culture and geekdom." It's a place for lovers and creators of anything pop-culture nerdy like comic-books or sci-fi, fantasy and horror films and books, to gather together and celebrate what they love.

Over three days, LGBTQ fans descend upon the Los Angeles Burbank Marriott Convention Center to revel in what is now considered the "Gay Comic-Con." Since its inception, attendance has grown fivefold and it only looks to increase even more this year. With a packed line-up of panels and guests, an exhibition hall, a pool party, Cosplay parade, and a Masquerade Ball, Bent-Con is a place for the geeky gay to feel right at home; not just in their sexual preferences, but with their choices in entertainment as well.

Superhero art with a twist

Beginning Friday afternoon the Exhibition Hall opens where various LGBTQ artists and writers offer up some of their most fascinating and original merchandise and original art. Whether it is comic books with gay themes, superhero art with a gay twist, gay gothic novels, or just a meet and greet with some of your favorite gay and not-gay talent in the field, the Exhibition Hall has something for you.

So while you might be able to get up close and personal with the likes of Jane Espenson ("Once Upon a Time," "Husbands") or artist Joe Phillips, you can also blow your mind with things you might not even have thought existed.

This year’s panels themselves are some of the most interesting and dynamic since the convention began. Topics include: "We’re Here, We’re Queer, Now What?" "Steampunk As A Queer SUPER-Culture," Queer Filmmakers and Subtext in Horror," "Spirituality in Comics and Related Media," and "Embracing a Brave New World - The Gaming Industry and Allies."

Fifty panels

A number of the more popular panels deal with all kinds of writing - from novels to comic-books to screenplays. Topics include: "Male/Male Romance and the Women Who Write Them," "The Importance of Sex in Gay Fiction," "Flamers, Twinks and Bears Oh My - Writing Stereotypes," The Gay Romance Novel," and simply, "How to: Make Comic Books."

With over fifty panels to choose from, there really is something for everybody. The best part is that you can attend them with other folks that have the same interests as you do - and the same romantic predilections.

But that’s not all! There are a slew of special panels ranging from Q & A’s with special guests like actress Claudia Christian ("Babylon 5") and author Christopher Rice ("The Heavens Rise"), to the more curious like "Why is Furry Fandom so Gay?" which looks at the furry subculture and why it embraces alternate sexualities while science fiction and fantasy fandoms seem to be late in catching up to this acceptance.

But if panels aren’t your thing and you’ve exhausted the Exhibition Hall floor, don’t worry, because Bent-Con 2013 has a number of other treats in store for your inner LGBTQ nerd. On Friday night there will be a Speed-Dating event called "Spock My Interest" where you can try your hand at finding romance. For the "Big Bang Nerd" there’s a "Trivial Per-Suit Up" event where you can test your knowledge with other brainiacs. There’s even a "Tournament of Nerds!" that debate who would win in superhero battles like: Batman vs Wolverine? Dumbledore or Gandalf?

Youth Day

If meeting the perfect geek is still your thing and you haven’t yet found your Clark Kent or Rose Tyler yet, you can attend the Bent-Con 2013 Masquerade where attendees can dress in their finest Cosplay get-up whilst searching for their eternal soul mate. For those inclined to show a little more skin, there’s also the Atlantean Pool Party complete with mermaids, merman and a DJ.

And lest you think this is a strictly adult affair, this year there is a Youth Day called "Rainbow Connection." Held on Sunday from noon to 5, the day is packed with panels, gaming, and exhibitors that "foster positivity, imagination, empowerment, inclusivity for LGBTQ youth and their families in an identity-affirming presence in a safe and welcoming environment." If the three day event wasn’t already a fantastic alternative for our nerdier LGBTQ community brethren, it’s pretty amazing that the younger folks and their families have been included as well.

If you want to be a part of what is becoming a bigger and bigger event every year (Comic-Con started out with just 500 people, too) and circuit parties aren’t your thing, put on your very best cape and fly down to Bent-Con. Not only will you be a part of history, you might just find your very own doctor to call your own. A Doctor Who, that is.

"Bent-Con 2013" will take place from November 8th-10th at the Los Angeles Burbank Marriott Convention Center, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505. For more information and for tickets visit www.bent-con.org.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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