After more than ten years, Outlantacon is still going strong. The queer-centered fandom and ‘nerd’ culture festival features an impressive lineup of shows panels, and events – and of course lots of costuming, gaming, and vendors all the while celebrating the LGBTQ aspect of it all. Peach spoke to Michael Stork (social media and website coordinator) about the geeky convention.
Tell us a little about the nature of the event.
OutlantaCon is an LGBTQ-focused geek, nerd, and fandom convention that has taken place in Atlanta for the last 11 years.
What LGBTQ-specific angle does your event take? How does it differ from similar sci-fi/geek events?
Outlantacon is similar to other sci-fi/geek events in that we share the same love for a genre, but our panels focus, highlight, and celebrate the LGBTQ(+) component of it. This includes characters, storylines, directors, writers, and the importance of visibility; by making something that was once “taboo” found in mainstream media, we help to create and reinforce equality.
Can you tell us any personal stories about how you became involved in this event?
Nine years ago I received a call from my best friend Java Green, who was volunteering at the convention, he explained to me that they had an event, project cosplay, happening that evening and the host, a local drag queen, had an emergency and had to cancel. They needed someone quick to help run the interactive “project runway spoof.” Knowing that I was the Emcee for Lips down on Dixie, Atlanta’s longest running rocky horror picture show, and accustomed to facilitating big wild groups while mostly doing it off the cuff I was the first choice. I hurried to the convention, hosted an amazing show, and I never left. I stayed on with the convention first as an attendee, then a host, then a guest, and eventually took over as “Game Show Track Director.” My job was to be the ambassador of fun. Which was great because I always have an amazing time at the convention and now I was helping others do it too. Last year the convention elected me as ConChair for 2018, and I would pick up the torch that they had carried on their own for so long. I am hooked. Running the convention this year has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see people enjoy all the hard work we have put into it this year.
Should LGBTQ people who have no interest in geek-related culture attend this event? Why?
Absolutely! We have something for everyone at Outlantacon. We have a film festival where we receive submissions from creators where it is against the law to be their authentic self. These creators risk their lives to create content they burn to share with the world, and Outlantacon serves as a platform for them to do so. We have an amazing culture and activism track that includes guest and resources that everyone in our community should educate themselves with. We have game shows, drag shows, and interactive sports where you can laugh along with friends of any age and have a good time. And I’ve been to some awesome room parties over the years — unofficial of course, wink.
As a whole, how has ‘geek space’ changed acceptance-wise while you’ve been involved?
The geek community has always been awesome, and they have been the most open to acceptance and change than most other groups over the last 20 years. We can all show better ally-ship (even among our own community) by celebrating people similarities and differences, by understanding that there are more things that bring us together than push us apart, and realize that we only get a short time in this crazy world so it should be spent doing good and not spewing hate.
What’s special about this year’s event?
Every year is special as it includes all new panels, events, shows, and new friendships. This year is unique for me as it is my first full year as ConChair, and I’m ready to see a year’s worth of planning in the flesh.
What would you like to see take place in the future for Outlantacon?
The future is bright for Outlantacon, and I am ready to create more content, more guests, and a hotel filled with hundreds of my favorite folks!
Outlantacon will be held at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel on May 10-12. More info on programming and membership at outlantacon.org.