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For some people, the big convention of the year is either SDCC or NYCC. While yes, my family attends NYCC if possible, our convention is always, annually, ConnectiCon. In the past, I’ve written about why I bring my son to conventions and, more specifically, why I love ConnectiCon. However, last year and this year, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about ConnectiCon is the diversity.
ConnectiCon represents the future of geekdom. As Eliza Schuyler would say, “look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” As GeekMom Corrina and I stood watching the cosplayers on the plaza between the Marriott and the Convention Center, we discussed how ConnectiCon represented everything best in the geek community.
Conventions like ConnectiCon represent the future of the geek community. They are medium-sized, relatively inexpensive (early bird cost for ConnectiCon is $60 for the weekend), and have enough crowd to foster new relationships while simultaneously being small enough to have a sense of community. Every year when I go, I run into the same former students who attend the local university and live nearby. As we’ve been going more, I run into the same families with the same children and we discuss the same kinds of issues. At the same time, I’ve managed to meet new people every year and no experience is the same as the previous one.
Every year, because of its manageable size, teens wander around in clusters being teens and creating their own community. ConnectiCon is accessible to the next generation. It acts as the geek mall of conventions. I don’t mean this in a deriding way. I love it. In a world where the next generation wants to find its identity, ConnectiCon gives them a place to do that.
Looking around ConnectiCon over the last two years, a significant change has taken place. There are gendered and non-gendered bathrooms. The kids attending are cosplaying not just the popular Marvel and DC but also a lot of the anime and manga. There are people of color, young people and old people, families and singletons. However, the vibe comes from the teenagers. It’s the youth who own this convention and that is an amazing thing.
We can talk about the hatred on the Internet. We can agree that acceptance of gender identity or sexual identity or race or neurodiversity are still battles to be fought in our larger society. Many of us watch the news and fear for our increasingly divisive and violent society.
ConnectiCon, however, represents the future that can be. When I looked around ConnectiCon, when I looked at the teens cosplaying genderswapped characters or proudly displaying their gender identities, I saw what we can have. I saw people accepting differences and the joy that comes from the freedom to express oneself. I saw young people complimenting each other and treating each other with respect. I saw what our future can be if we follow the lead of the next generation of geeks. I saw the future, and it’s looking bright.