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Save the Date for the Midwest’s Very First Queer Geek Con — Flaming River Con

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By KAYLEE DUFF
(Image courtesy of Flaming River Arts)

“Everyone should have somewhere they feel safe to celebrate the things they love.” ❤️ Join your fellow geeks on September 22, for an all-ages convention of comics, zines, books, art, crafts, panels and workshops — focusing on LGBTQ+ geek culture!

Cleveland’s Flaming River Arts is a group whose mission is to “is to foster, showcase, and celebrate LGBTQIA+ voices and the community, and combat bigotry by increasing the visibility of queer and marginalized persons within geek culture.” And they’re doing just this, by bringing the Midwest’s first ever queer geek con to Cleveland, Ohio!

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 22, you can join Flaming River Arts and your fellow LGBTQ+ geeks at Westshore Uniterian Universalist Church for an awesome, all-ages queer geek convention. There’s a $5 suggested donation.

True Media got to chat with Brittney Orcutt, Flaming River President, and Logan Dorado, Flaming River Vice President, about their upcoming event.

Where did the inspiration for starting the Flaming River Convention come from?
Brittney: The inspiration really came from wanting to create casual queer spaces. By that I mean, I want queer book stores, cafes, conventions, etc. Mostly what we have is so rooted in drinking and hook-up culture, which is fun and all, but that’s really all we have.
Logan: About a year ago, Britt posted on Facebook asking if people would be interested in a queer comic-con. I immediately responded that I was absolutely interested in such a thing. Ten months later … we’re a month away from our first Flaming River Con.

Talk a little bit more about the mission you have stated on your website. What specifically do you want people to take away from it?
Logan: Our goal with Flaming River has always been to showcase and foster the talents of the LGBTQIA+ geek community. We strive to provide a safe space and environment for everyone who participates within the community, whether or not they are artists, writers, performers or fans. We hope that people who come to Flaming River Con (and any of our other events) are able to see our non-profit as an organization that reflects and represents them while other outlets have not. We also want our participants to encourage us to grow and continue to provide visibility for those who have been underrepresented within the geek community and culture.

Why is it important and/or meaningful to you guys that there’s a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community within geek culture?
Brittney: One of our big goals with FRC is to create the world we wanted and needed when we were younger. There’s also a toxicity in geek culture that is incredibly prevalent that isn’t called out or addressed often. There’s a lot of competition and trying to one up one another — trying to determine who is a true geek. There’s a lot of harassment. There’s little to no representation of LGBTQ+ or people of color in the geek world. And as soon as there is a character who is any type of minority, this toxic geek culture goes wild and starts attacking them. So we have a clear focus on showcasing the people who have been sidelined in geek culture and also creating a space for people to explore these ideas and identities, without that explosive behavior.
Logan: Riffing off of what Britt said, I’ve often felt a lack of representation for my identity as a trans, Filipino-American man within geek culture. As a result, going to bigger geek events where there was a severe lack of representation, I always felt somewhat uncomfortable and left out. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fortunate enough to find other LGBTQIA+ individuals within the community who are helping make people like me more visible and have more opportunities to be celebrated and showcased. Providing that on a bigger scale with the con is highly important — everyone should have somewhere they feel safe to celebrate the things they love.

What’s it like being the first event like this in the entire Midwest? How’s the pressure, expectations and excitement?
Brittney: There’s definitely a whole lot of expectations and a lot of pressure. It’s been really life-changing. We’ve taken on an enormous challenge and we also thought this was going to be a pretty local, small thing and it’s really expanded pretty rapidly. None of us were prepared for the amount of publicity and attention we’ve been getting. This has been daunting in its own way — we’re all just a bunch of geeks who wanted to do something cool for the community without any expectations.
Logan: It’s simultaneously extremely exciting and extremely daunting. We have worked exceptionally hard to create the Midwest’s first LGBTQIA+ Con and I’m proud of the work we’ve put into it. With that said, since it’s our first event of this scale, it’s a bit scary not knowing if things are going to go according to plan or if the event itself is going to be well-received. It’s a very odd feeling — creating something and watching it grow behind what we expected.

What is your team looking forward to the most?
Brittney: During the Con, our team is really looking forward to the panels.
Logan: The after-party. And sleeping. Sleeping is going to be crucial.

What other extra info or fun facts do you guys want to share about the upcoming Flaming River Con?
Brittney: NASA will actually be doing a panel at the event.
Logan: Which, if you ask me, is pretty wild. Who would have thought we’d get NASA to give a panel at an LGBTQ+ comic con?

What about the other events Flaming River Arts hosts?
Logan: We host several different events throughout the year — including Queer Prom (our most successful event to date prior to the con), Sex Trivia, and Photos with Queer Santa. All of these events were held with the idea of providing queer-friendly spaces that previously were not available in our area.

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It definitely sounds like Flaming River Con is shaping up to be an awesome event, and we can’t wait! Join us and our new friends at Flaming River Arts on September 22.

For more information on Flaming River Con, visit their website here. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates, pictures and more!

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