Western Washington University is having an in-person Queer Convention on April 30 to celebrate queer arts and media, after two years of hosting the event online.
The past two events have been free and held online using Gather, which allows guests to roam the simulated convention room. The prior interactive virtual conventions were technically international, as the event team could invite people from outside the country, said QueerCon Treasurer Amanda Korn.
“Conventions are a great place for cosplay, something you can’t do in an online setting,” Korn said. “In past years, people had been walking around in really neat cosplays and I would love to see that again.”
Since the last QueerCon, the team has been building up funds, gathering people, brainstorming ideas and attempting to spread awareness. The convention has been advertised as an event by students for students.
According to a team member of QueerCon, Luke Takayoshi, one of the bigger challenges when organizing the convention has been encouraging people to come to the event and share what they have to say. He found this especially difficult for students to go on stage and speak with authority.
Through the recent fall and winter quarter, the QueerCon team has been fundraising, and advertising through clubs, LGBTQ+ centers, posters and Instagram.
Academic West is rented out for the day of Queercon. Guests will be able to wander around the rows of tables and visit different artists, small businesses and student clubs.
In addition to discovering new artists, businesses, clubs and products, QueerCon is a great place to meet queer people and find what is exciting locally, said Queer Guild Council worker Shyam Vaitheesvaran.
While this year’s convention is in-person, the event team wants to support everyone in the community, which includes those who are immunocompromised, so masks will be required when attending the event, said Takayoshi.
Along with the schedule of panels, there will be a queer open mic, a game room for tabletop games and an artist ally for the guests to buy or look at art. Local business vendors like The Comics Place with queer representation will also be in attendance, said Korn.
“Six years ago when the first QueerCon happened, it was a lot more niche to see queer representation so the point of that was to celebrate it and have a space where we could enjoy media with queer representation,” she said. “Now that it’s become more mainstream it’s become more of a celebration of how far we’ve come.”
Representation is important and seeing oneself represented in media is important as it is encouraging and empowering to be able to relate to, said Korn.
Along with celebrating and representing individuals, QueerCon also tries to educate people.
“People come to Western for a couple of years at a time and they go off into the world again, so it’s a time of learning and while we’re here we want everyone to learn about diversity and to learn about the history of the community,” Takayoshi said. "I want them to learn something here and take it with them and use it for the rest of their lives.”
Michelle Soi (she/her) is a reporter for The Front this quarter. She is currently a junior majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Journalism Public Relations. During her down time she likes to go out and try new restaurants or cafes, drive around with her friends, watch anime and read mangas.
Her Instagram is @michellesoi