Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reverend's Preview: Bent-Con Celebrates Diversity

Comic book and pop culture conventions are now ubiquitous throughout Southern California. November brings two such gatherings: the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con (November 23rd and 24th) and Los Angeles’s Bent-Con. Only the second event, however, fully highlights GLBT artists, their creations and fans.

Now in its fourth year, Bent-Con will take place November 8th-10th at the Burbank Marriott and Convention Center. The convention, according to its organizers, “promotes, encourages, celebrates and appreciates GLBT and GLBT-friendly contributions to the comic-book, gaming, science fiction, fantasy and horror mediums… be they works targeted directly to GLBT audiences or the larger realm of underground and mainstream pop-culture as a whole.” One is encouraged to think of it as being like San Diego’s annual Comic-Con International “only gayer,” say organizers.

Super Boys on the Beach by Joe Phillips

Among the celebrities slated to attend are actress Claudia Christian (Babylon 5, Grimm), openly queer author — and son of Interview with the Vampire queen Anne Rice — Christopher Rice, actor and voice artist Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants, The Powerpuff Girls), out professional athlete and actor Ian Roberts (Defiance), producer Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and openly gay comics artist Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman, New X-Men). Other renowned gay artists appearing will be Patrick Fillion, Joe Phillips, Jeff Krell and Butch McLogic.

As at other conventions, attendees are encouraged to dress in costume as their favorite GLBT or mainstream comic book and pop culture characters. Elaborate “cosplay” outfits will be on view at Bent-Con, some of them minimal or skin-tight and modeled by hot men and women. (Note: the main event is for those ages 18 and over, and youth under 18 will not be permitted to enter the exhibitor/vendor hall or regular programs without an adult parent or guardian.)

Special presentations and panel discussions will be held throughout the weekend on a variety of interesting topics. A few that have piqued my curiosity are:

  • Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond “Gay” and “Straight”, which will explore attitudes toward bisexuality or fluid sexuality and/or gender through a new comics anthology from Northwest Press.
  • Embracing a Brave New World: The Gaming Industry and Allies presented by Andrew LaRock, who admits to having been against the GLBT community up until just three years ago. His mind now open, LaRock will speak about global GLBT awareness, creating new social norms that allow for openness, and about the diversity of GLBT communities in schools, business and entertainment.
  • The Kink in Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso, which might help explain why the Amazon princess described as having “more real-world impact than any other comic book hero” has yet to get a movie of her own since this presentation will explore the “kinky psychology” present in her creator’s original stories.
  • The Importance of Sex in Gay Fiction will address the question “Why are sexually-explicit scenes more permissible in gay fiction (not just gay erotica), and why is this important?” Sign me up!

In addition, there will be exclusive performances during Bent-Con of Masque of the Read Death: A Musical Thriller — described as a gay-themed, sci-fi/horror spectacular — and a mini stage combat version of the new theatrical production Demon-Slaying Drag Queens.

Lest one conclude that Bent-Con is a strictly adult affair, the program on Sunday, November 10th will feature the family-friendly Rainbow Connection. This special series of events is open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and straight children and youth of all ages. It will consist of panels, workshops, gaming and exhibits designed to foster positivity, imagination, empowerment and inclusivity among GLBTQ youth and their families in a safe and welcoming environment. Admission is free for youth ages 10 and under, and only $10 for ages 11-17 when purchased online.

For a full listing of events and to purchase passes in advance, visit the Bent-con website.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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