In this era of a rapidly spreading marriage equality movement, it seems that out proud LGBT people can now be found everywhere. This includes at unexpected places like comic book shops and on the pages of the comics themselves.

Now entering it's fifth year, Bent Con is an annual convention in Los Angeles where LGBT identified comic book writers, artists, readers, and yes, even nerds, can gather for a celebration of all things Superman, Batman, Kevin Keller and beyond.

This year's Bent Con takes place on November 7-9 at the Los Angeles Burbank Marriott Convention Center in Burbank, CA. Participants this year will include Anne Rice (Interview With the Vampire) and her openly gay novelist son Christopher. As always, costumes are encouraged — no doubt attendees might encounter a hand-holding Batman and Robin!

SFGN spoke to Viktor Kerney, Bent Con's Director of Outreach. We also chatted with comic book aficionado Brian J. Patterson, who's also an actor. Patterson's many credits include an upcoming Batman film that he's directing with the blessing of DC Comics.

Can you explain to the uninitiated what Bent Con offers?

Kerney: Bent Con is a celebration of the LGBT creators, writers and artists within the overall comic book/sci-fi/film world.

Patterson: Bent Con to me is like Comic Con for the LGBT community.

In this era of marriage equality, gay weddings at the Grammys, etc, do we need a separate comic con?

Kerney: Yes, because our community needs to see and understand our place in the creative realm. Many in our community do not know how to express themselves or how to be completely free in a creative space. We hope through Bent Con that we inspire people to be themselves and create some fantastic work.

Our attendance has been mostly male, however over the past couple of years the female and trans attendees have increased. One of our goals is to strengthen our women and trans attendance.

Patterson: I believe there is a very strong LGBTQ presence in the comic book community, and I believe it is continuing to grow and that this is representative of society in general. It's well known that our society has seen a clear evolution of LGBTQ presence through the ages. It's no mistake that in the 1940s and 50s gay bars, magazines, or television representation was either underground or practically non-existent from the general population. Yet today they permeate an approximate 10 percent of said genres and are continually climbing. Wallah! Common sense at it's best!

I have seen a very big mix at this event. While every event in America is heavily represented by men, specifically Caucasian men. Thanks to President and Founder Sean Z's inclusion of diverse materials, I have seen this even frequented by what can only be described as a melting pot. It's a really great accomplishment and he should be incredibly proud.

Any thoughts on the out LGBT characters appearing in comic books now?

Kerney: We are happy to see more LGBT characters in comics, however, we would like to see them in more leading roles, acting as leaders of teams and carrying their own comic books.

Patterson: I really appreciate how diverse comics have become and are continuing to become even more so as time passes. Although I have always been a huge DC fan, in my opinion, Marvel has continually been a leader in paving the way for diversity. Their approach to discrimination and equality via the mutant and their "X-gene" has always seemed to be very pragmatic, common sense and ahead of their time. I am particularly fond of the way they handled NorthStar's no apologies way of coming out in 1992.

Brian, can you tell us a bit about your upcoming Batman film?

Patterson: I began putting together a film of my own called Batman: Battle For the Cowl, which brought to life the 2009 DC Comics storyline. I even premiered the trailer at Bent Con a few years ago. My Batman film has already ruffled some feathers due to it's non-traditional casting which included different races in traditionally Caucasian cast roles, and even a transgender actor. But what caused waves the most is that I made Robin gay in the film and showed him in an intimate moment with his boyfriend.

According to IMDB, Patterson's Batman: Battle For The Cowl will be released as a short film in 2015.

More information on Bent Con: