Queer superhero Super Gay donned her rainbow headpiece and cape, waving her light-up wand at Supercon attendees while decreeing: “Be queer. Arise. Be fabulous.”
When she wasn’t dubbing the queer community at the Broward County Convention Center this past weekend, she ran a pride booth under her secret identity, Debbie Chamberlin.
“People love it,” she told SFGN on Saturday during South Florida’s largest comic con in Fort Lauderdale. Chamberlin’s booth, Like A Cat Jewelry, sold steampunk, Supernatural and Doctor Who merchandise. But what really draws attendees is her ever-expanding pride collection, filled with pins, magnets, keychains, flags and plushies.
“What I really like is I tend to get the younger queer group. I get younger ones that want to represent, but honest to god going to a pride shop is intimidating. It's way too sexual for the typical con attendee,” she said. “Mine is safe and cuddly. Everybody’s completely accepted here.”
Being one of the only booths specializing in the pride department, she sold merchandise with flags from the asexual, transgender, pansexual, bisexual and genderqueer communities, and also offered custom flags to match anyone’s identity.
Chamberlin loves that her merchandise attracts the younger LGBT community. “Young kids are just coming to terms with who they are,” she said. “I sometimes feel like Mama Gay to them because many of them aren’t out to their family or out to everyone and there’s still that fear about what happens next.”
Chamberlin was just one of tens of thousands of attendees to flock to Supercon’s 12th annual convention this weekend. With over 750 hours of programming including celebrity Q&As, costume contests, fan panels and workshops, it’s no wonder parking sold out by noon on Saturday.
4:30pm update: 95% of ALL tickets have been checked in. We are making sure that EVERYONE who pre-purchased a ticket gets into the show.— Florida Supercon (@FloridaSupercon) July 29, 2017
According to Supercon's social media, the convention checked in 95 percent of their tickets on Saturday and 97 percent on Sunday — fans eager to see celebrities like Jason David Frank and Amy Jo Johnson, the Green and Pink Rangers from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
“I just want to say that Supercon was awesome,” Green Ranger Frank told SFGN. “Fans of Florida were just amazing, the Q&A was great with Amy Jo Johnson, it was great up there. And I always tell everyone that the relationship doesn’t end at comic cons, it's just the beginning ... You know what time it is — it’s morphin time.”
Frank and Johnson took over the Grand Ballroom on Saturday for a Q&A, sitting on the center stage with projectors to their left and right. With over 200 chairs filled in the 5,319 square foot ballroom, nearly 30 fans lined up in the center to ask the actors questions about their time on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers set, their upcoming roles and a bit about their personal life.
A post shared by Jason David Frank (@jdfffn) on
“It’s not easy being a director and a filmmaker,” Frank commented about Amy, who wrote, directed and starred in her recent film ‘The Space Between.’ “She is great.”
Johnson spilled the beans about Frank’s habits as a prankster behind the scenes on the old Power Rangers series, admitting “He was fun.”
Frank showed that by challenging the audience — “If you do a backflip, I’ll do a backflip.” When someone stood up to challenge him back, he promptly shouted “Sit down, sir.”
They also spoke about the new Power Rangers movie that hit theaters this year. ‘I got kicked out of the theater,” Frank admitted. He claimed the staff followed him into the bathroom and asked him to leave after he took a selfie during the movie.
Keeping the selfie spirit alive, the actors closed the panel by taking a photo with their audience.
Celebrities and vendors weren’t the only people expressing themselves at the convention. Cosplayers also ran booths, meeting their fans and posing for photos.
“I’ve been coming to Supercon since 2011,” said cosplay guest Celissi, dressed as Magik from X-Men at her booth in the cosplay alley. “It’s actually really busy this year.”
Going to cons over the last seven years, Mederos noticed a change in the attendees. “There are a lot of people who don’t know what [Supercon] is about,” she said. “People are following a trend that might not be for them.”
She claimed people are jumping on the convention bandwagon after the rise of superhero movies like The Avengers. “I miss when it was only five or six cosplayers.”
Even so, Celissi expressed her pride in the community around her. “I feel so lucky being part of a community that represents growth positively and offer support to those who need it.”
She's also happy that the LGBT community is more accepted in the con scene than it has been in the past. "I'm so grateful that cosplay has evolved to the form that is it now which really shuns any shamers and allows for openness," she said. "This is definitely a place where kids come and feel welcome for feeling or looking different, older people too."
Check out more Supercon 2017 photos on our Facebook page.