Florida Supercon 2013: Sci-Fi, Anime, & Comic Books Convention Connects LGBT Fans & Allies
Trekkies, Bronies and a revered pop culture icon who says “Oh Myyy.”
The 8th annual Florida Supercon 2013 took place July 4 to 7 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, where thousands of fans came to celebrate sci-fi, anime, comic books, and other pop culture genres.
Generally the mood was upbeat on Saturday, July 6 – how could it not be when people dressed as fantastical characters such as Aqua Man, Nightwing, and The Great Gazoo?
However, there were also justifiable complaints. Onsite parking lots and overflow parking rapidly became full. An office building down the street had available parking. Yet, this was not an authorized lot and fans had to walk for awhile in the heat to get to the convention. Individuals in wheelchairs or dealing with other issues were definitely not accommodated in this case.
On Facebook, Melissa Z. voiced her concerns about the overcrowding at the convention and what could have happened in an emergency. Lauren A. stated that the ticket line was “interminable.”
Also via Facebook, Florida Supercon provided a general response: “We have major plans we’ll be announcing very soon for next year’s show, which will allow for 4x the amount of space and parking we had this year.” Emails were sent to Florida Supercon organizers to elaborate, but they were unanswered at the time this article went to press.
Despite these issues, a lot of good energy came from the prospect of seeing Saturday’s media guests, particularly LGBT activist/ actor George Takei who took the stage as the headliner.
Takei’s role as Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek brought out the Trekkies. But children went to see him as the voice of Ricardio from Adventure Time. A high school teacher at the Q&A microphone even mentioned Takei’s Broadway-bound musical, Allegiance, which deals with the unconstitutional internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. As a child, Takei and his family were incarcerated in one of these internment camps. He discussed the importance of raising awareness about these difficult periods of history.
On the recent Supreme Court rulings, Takei shared “We’ve come a long way quickly… but still have a way to go.” He reiterated that the work must continue in order for all states to achieve marriage equality.
Lighter subjects included how his catchphrase “Oh Myyy” originated during an appearance on Howard Stern, and that “The Naked Time” was his favorite episode of the original Star Trek. He commented that at one point after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the character of Sulu was set to receive his own movie or TV show. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen—but if the audience at Florida Supercon is any indication, it hasn’t affected Takei’s career.
Some of the many other highlights on Saturday’s schedule included photo opportunities and a panel with the former cast members of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers including David Yost, as well as a Q&A with Erin Gray of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Guild.
Gray spoke to SFGN about the response from her female fans, and her current passion for teaching Tai Chi. From 1979-1981 on Buck Rogers, the character of Colonel Wilma Deering broadened the perspective on how women could approach their careers. Gray noted that women often come up to her to say “you’re the reason I joined the police force or became a firefighter.”
Although Gray works as the Founder and CEO of Heroes for Hire, a company which represents and books celebrities in personal appearances, she also continues to act. Her work in the indie film Dreams Awake, explores a spiritual awakening that is strongly connected to nature. These subject matters deeply resonate with Gray who teaches Tai Chi, a low-impact exercise known for its effect on the body and mind. She discussed how Tai Chi affects her on a daily basis: “It gets rid of all the barnacles…the soul is smooth, the heart is open.”
Florida Supercon listed Gray’s Tai Chi class on the Sunday morning schedule. When asked how comic con audiences respond to Tai Chi, Gray remarked that her classes sold out at DragonCon in Atlanta. She surmised that this may because the “sci-fi audience… doesn’t have limitations on the mind. They are open to new ideas.”
The presence of a group such as the Bronies may also give evidence of this openness at Florida Supercon. Bronies are adult, often male, fans of the animated show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The controversy arises because the target audience is thought to be young girls.
The Bronies of South Florida had a table at Florida Supercon, and Eddie of Miami reported that he often gets “a raised eyebrow” when he shares his love for the show. Good writing is one of the reasons why he is a fan.
Radish, 17, of Miami, pointed out that the show’s messages appeal to different audiences. For example, “all girls do not have to be princesses.” However, he did not think that Bronies are “breaking social barriers.” They are “just fans of the show.” Yet, he conceded that other Bronies might think differently. “It depends on who you are.”
Steven Rodriguez, 20, of Miami, asserted that “everyone is welcome” in the Bronies of South Florida including LGBT individuals. Rodriguez described himself as “bi-curious” and emphasized that the group is dedicated to giving all Bronies “a place to go” where they can share “the same interests.”
Further evidence of open minds: Audrey Adar, 27, of Daytona, and Jessica Thompson, 26, of Fort Lauderdale, who dressed as Saturday Night Live’s The Ambiguously Gay Duo. The original characters were men, so their female version presented an interesting variation. Both Adar and Thompson are LGBT allies. Adar saw their costumes as a reminder of a “fun skit on SNL,” but also as a way to demonstrate “how people are embracing all forms of equality.” Thompson also affirmed their intention to “show support [for the LGBT community] through costuming.”
The LGBT community also offered resplendent examples of cosplay. Jonathan Stryker, 22, of Aventura, was dressed as Aiolos from the anime Saint Seiya. His gold-colored costume included several armor pieces and a colossal set of wings.
Stryker is gay with six years of cosplaying experience. “I’m an artist, so this is definitely a way to express myself.” As far as whether comic cons are a welcoming place for LGBT individuals, Stryker has found them to be one of the “most accepting, friendliest places” for gays.
Etienne Valero, 24, and Patricia, 18, of Miami were dressed as Kurloz from the webcomic, Homestuck. On the topic of LGBT acceptance at comic cons, Patricia explained: “Nobody has a gender…Girls dressed as boys, girls kissing girls…who cares?”
“It’s a lot more comfortable to be gay here,” added Valero.
Their friend, Rae Wolfe, 17, of Miami, was also dressed as a Homestuck character—The Summoner. His costume displayed an impressive set of orange-red horns that seemed to require an equally impressive amount of equilibrium. Since 2007, Wolfe has been attending comic cons “because you can make friends… and they appreciate the costumes that I make.”
He also concurred with Patricia on the comic con environment for LGBT individuals. “Anime is indifferent towards gender. No one cares who you like.”
“I can count the straight people that I know here with one hand,” he said.
For more information about next year’s Florida Supercon: