More than 1,000 people filled the Miami Airport Convention Center's upper floors last year for Out Con, Florida's first LGBT-oriented comics convention.
The event blended the local queer and geek communities in a way that's seldom seen. Cosplayers — some dressed as Link from Zelda, others as Sailor Scouts — bought rainbow Pokéball pins at vending booths. Meanwhile, in tournament rooms, gaymers played Super Smash Bros. with one another.
Though Out Con 2016 didn't have the same turnout as last year's SuperCon, which drew more than 53,000 attendees, it was nevertheless a formidable collection of smiling faces for an inaugural convention. Because of the event's success last year, Jonathan Stryker, the organizer of the convention, is bringing back Out Con and all of its glorious madness to the MACC this spring.
"So many people felt inspired to be themselves last year, so it [is] a huge honor to bring it back again this year," Stryker told New Times. "We hope to continue growing and inspiring everyone join our celebration of gay geeky culture."
This year's Out Con will run for two days, May 6 and 7, and will present new special guests that are part of both the cosplay and LGBT communities, such as Zack the Ripper and Ai.
For some of last year's conventioneers, Out Con was not only a weekend diversion but also a rare space where they found themselves just being themselves.
"Last year's event was really nice because it was dedicated to people like me who are different, especially in a geek community that I still hadn't felt 100 percent accepted in," says 26-year-old Daylin Correa, who sold art and apparel at the booth Moshi Moshi Watermelon during the one-day con. "Combining both communities helps people like me and many I know in feeling more comfortable coming out to enjoy both aspects of our identities."
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The "accepting" atmosphere led to some interesting times at Out Con. In addition to the costume contest, a common event at comic cons, there was also a strip contest.
Stryker says Out Con 2017 will include more panels and entertainment — things attendees wanted to see more of last year.
"We’ll be overall more organized and prepared, given that we now have a better grasp of what people enjoyed and want to see more of," he says.
Out Con 2017
May 6 and 7 at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Ave., Miami; outconvention.com.