Fangirls, I love conventions. Up and coming conventions are almost always as exciting as bigger conventions, but they usually need a bit of help. HavenCon is a new convention this April that focuses on Geek and Gaming Culture through LGBTQA experiences and eyes.
Shane Brown, the founder of HavenCon, was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
What is HavenCon, to you?
To me, HavenCon is, at it’s core, a safe place. A space where fans of various geeky passions can come together in an environment where they know they are welcome to be themselves and not suffer from judgment or harassment from those that may view them as strange, odd, or different. It’s a safe Haven for the LGBT community and those that love them to be bound by the love they have for all things geek and gaming.
Who are you, in relation to HavenCon (and otherwise)?
I am the founder and organizer of HavenCon – This is sort of my baby really, but it’s taken a whole community of awesome people to really bring it all together.
I also started and (semi) organize the Gay Austin Geeks – A social group here in Austin focused on, well..pretty much what the name implies haha. It’s a great group of people and I have been more than blessed in being a part of it.
How did it start?
The concept of HavenCon started in one form or another several years ago. The concept itself was focused more on a lounge that I had been contemplating for some time (and still do!). I wanted to create a safe space for LGBT geeks and gamers to come together and be themselves and have fun together doing what they love. Sort of a break from the norm of the regular bars and clubs that are out there. More quiet, more focused on our interests, and just a really cool place to get together to game and watch shows and all of that fun stuff.
The Convention idea really started to formulate a couple of years ago. I wanted to do something that was ideal for all genres of geekdom. Gaming, Comics, Movies, Sci-Fi..the whole gambit. The big triggering point for me was while at another convention locally. We had a table and ran a panel, and it went well (though I am still working on my public speaking abilities lol). One thing I noticed though was that people were hesitant to approach us at the convention. Then later on, they would find me, or some of the other panelists and say “I am so glad you guys exist! I wanted to talk to you but I was afraid of what people might think”.
So I put the lounge and my other business endeavors on hold, and decided to start HavenCon. And so far, it’s been a great experience and one that feels very natural for me.
You’re using support from attendees to pay for HavenCon, what happens if you don’t get enough?
The support page on our site is for those that may not be able to attend HavenCon but still want to help us make it an awesome event. Those funds are separate from sponsors, vendors, advertising and ticket sales.
We have some great ideas for the event and the funds raised there will help cover those costs. An example would be: We want to hold a live drawing session. I’ve reached out to Wacom to contribute a tablet for the session which we will then award to the winner of the contest. In exchange, Wacom would get advertising here and here, as well as being listed as the event sponsor.
If this doesn’t happen, and we have enough contributions, we can purchase that equipment outright, if all goes well!
So it’s a way for people to show support and make it awesome. If these don’t happen, then we will focus on other low cost things to do.
We are also accepting in kind donations of games, gaming consoles, all of that good stuff in exchange for advertising.
I live here! LOL Austin is an amazingly diverse city and is full of awesome technology, culture, and just everything you could want for a host city. It’s these sort of traits that made me think “yeah, this is the place for something like this for this whole region.”
Is this the first convention you’ve organized?
It is! And I couldn’t be more excited to do it. But I can’t take all of the credit, I have a lot of industry professionals, convention enthusiasts and others backing me up behind the scenes. (Hi guys and gals!)
What do you need from supporters to make HavenCon happen / how can people help?
Honestly 2 things.
- Get your tickets!
- Spread the word. Let your friends, families, bosses, secretaries and anyone else who may be a geek know. We don’t have a huge advertising budget like some conventions, and well, I can only send so many tweets, emails and FB posts in a day. So it really is up to the entire community to get the word out there.
Do you have a harassment policy? How are you going to keep attendees safe from harassment?
This one I can’t state strongly enough. If at all possible, 0 harassment will be condoned. HavenCon is about being yourself, regardless of how you express that. I hope that people know this before coming in the doors. I don’t want someone to have to be removed because they were being overtly judgmental or harassing anyone else. But we will have security on hand to enforce this.
How long has HavenCon been in the works?
Officially, not long! I had the idea for a while, but the bulk of it has only been around maybe 5 months? We’re doing great from that perspective!
What are your future plans for HavenCon (will it be annual, always in TX, etc)?
I want to get through April first. After that we’ll probably survey people and see what the next steps are. I personally would love to see it become an annual event, and possibly even travel through the Midwest. But we’ll visit that once we see how we do this first year. (So get your tickets everyone!).
Fangirls, Fanboys, the LGBTQA+ community, this sounds like a great plan. The convention itself seems like a great idea. If you’re near Texas or feel like travelling there, this seems like a pretty good thing to check out. And let me know if you’ve got couch space, I want to come too!
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