This subject has been in the back of my mind for a while now. I originally started this draft as just a title over a year ago, but here it is again, ever present in my thinking. And that is on the importance of conventions.
We (my two boys, their cousin, and best friend) just attended our first (of 3) anime conventions this year, Anime Milwaukee, a month ago.
There are all the regular trappings of conventions: the merch room, artist alley, video and tabletop gaming, guest panels, and cosplayers. These things alone set it up for an interesting weekend to be sure…but I perceive there to be a greater impact.
I was reminded of this during the “LGBTQ+& Anime Cultures” panel. I attended this panel out of curiosity and as a dad of a gay teen I sometimes feel it important (for me) to get a deeper perspective into things that affect his world. It was presented by the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center. It was a good panel. But one of the most things I walked away from the panel was the message of inclusion and having a safe space where individuals, no matter how they identify, feel like they can be themselves.
(Visit their site and support them or organizations like them in your community. http://www.mkelgbt.org/ )
I made sure to thank them afterwords. As a dad it makes a great impression and means a lot to me. While my son has a supportive family and group of great friends, not all people do and many struggle with being accepted and loved by those around them. Panels like these are important and I appreciate them.
It’s not the only place I have heard messages like this at a Con. Anime Midwest is the first place I encountered this. Voice actor and D.J., Greg Ayres has been doing his “It Gets Better- Con Edition” panel there (and at other Cons) for the past several years. Greg’s panels include much of the same message, but is expansive beyond the LGBTQ community, but to those who are different (in the many ways we can be). But the overarching message is to be good to one another, be accepting, one of inclusion.
(Go see this panel and say hi to Greg!)
And as I walked through Anime Milwaukee I reflected on this. I saw all spectrum’s of race, gender, sexuality, size, and age. I saw all levels of fandom, from casual to hardcore. Anime otakus and gamers. People had a place to unite.
It gives me hope.
In a time when there is increasing division and the politics of hate is prevalent. Where cynical politicians and intolerant, angry people are trying to legitimize racism, sexism, and homophobia, there is something else.
The Importance of a Convention.
It is there to help you realize, not all people are like that. That you can have a diverse community. That you can, and should, celebrate and love those around you. That we are better than the hatred that streams through our media filters daily.
Conventions give me hope…and I love that!!!
Go to a con near you and get some hope. See something new. Celebrate that there are people different than you and know that this is okay.
Then let that inspire you and take it outside the con. Give to your time or money to something that you care deeply about. Stop getting in fights on social media and spread love and inclusion where you can.
Just some thoughts from dadwatchesanime…
Some of people I saw at Anime Milwaukee.
Oh yeah, I met Vic Minogna. That was cool. I got a FMA Brotherhood scroll signed for the boys.
Until next time: Happy Viewing!