HavenCon

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Convention
Name: HavenCon
Dates: 2015-current
Frequency: annual
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Type: pro
Focus: LGBTQIA+
Organization:
Founder: Shane Brown
Founding Date: 2014
URL: https://www.facebook.com/HavenConTX
http://www.havencontx.org/
Havencon-logo.jpg
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HavenCon is a convention focused on LGBTQIA+ geeks and gamers, held annually in Austin, Texas. It is funded mostly by donations but also by sponsors such as Hops & Heroes Comics.

HavenCon board members include president Kathryn Gonzales[1] and treasurer Nicholas Ruggiero[2].

Shane Brown, an organizer for the group Gay Austin Geeks, first got the idea for HavenCon when doing a panel at Wizard World Austin Comic Con in 2014. He was informed that many con attendees had wanted to check out their group's table but couldn't because they weren't out to friends and family attending the event with them. After this, Shane decided he wanted to host a "haven" for gay geeks in the area, and also to demonstrate that LGBTQ fans are a viable market for media creators to take notice of.[3]

History

First HavenCon

After two IndieGogo campaigns in late 2014[4][5], the first HavenCon was held April 4th and 5th, 2015 at Holiday Inn Midtown.[6][7] Over 1,100 people attended.[8]

Special guests included authors Daniel Harvell and Rhiannon Frater, cosplay artist Alexa Heart, comic book writer Dylan Edwards, and voice actors Caitlynn French, Janet Varney, and Dante Basco.[3]

This 2015 HavenCon also featured "The Big Gay Cosplay Wedding" officiated by Kenny Peters, a local ordained minister. "You don’t have to be big or gay or in cosplay" to take part, Shane said in an interview.[3]

HavenCon 2016

HavenCon 2's theme was "Let Your Geek Flag Fly!". It was held April 22-24, 2016, at Holiday Inn Midtown.[9][10] Special guests included Karin Weekes of Bioware, and the return of Janet Varney.[11]

Special events included a celebrity poker match raising funds for TransLifeLine.org, as well as "After Hours" programming to talk about more serious and adult topics such as safer sex and fetishes.[12]

HavenCon 3

HavenCon 3's theme was "That's So Retro!". It was held April 28-30, 2017, at the Doubletree Hilton North. Special guests included Karin Weekes again, writer/podcaster Cody Melcher, Paul Amos from Assassin's Creed and Lost Girl, and Denise Crosby from Star Trek: The Next Generation.[13]

Later in 2017, Shane started a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, "It's Your Haven Foundation", aiming to contribute to various LGBTQ content creators, community groups like Trans Lifeline and OutYouth, and disaster relief groups following Texas hurricanes and the Pulse shooting.[14]

HavenCon 4

HavenCon 4's theme was "A Cosmic Journey". It was held March 29-April 1, 2018 at the Doubletree Hilton North.[15] Special guests included cosplayer Jay Justice, several Bioware creatives, Tracee Cocco from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Daniel Newman from The Walking Dead, and Tracy Scoggins from Babylon 5.[16]

Shane's resignation and dispute

In the months leading up to HavenCon 4, it was said that this would be the final year for the convention, with the reason given that organizer Shane needed to take time and focus on his health.[17] However, at opening ceremonies, Shane announced that even without him, HavenCon 5 would be happening in 2019, with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

On May 5 Shane revealed that he had actually left not due to health reasons, but because of disagreements with how the convention was being handled, for example email accounts not being checked regularly, hiring a CPA who was non-LGBTQ and was the brother of a staff member, etc.[18] In June he requested that the organization cease using the HavenCon name and branding, stating in an email he posted publicly "I have recently been in talks with some of the original backers of HavenCon and we have come to agreement that the current state of HavenCon, as a brand and community organization are not what we set out to create."[19] He later revoked the HavenCon team's access to the organization's Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts, and blanked the website. The remaining HavenCon staff created a new Twitter account (@havencontx, rather than the original @havencon) and stated on July 9 "the HavenCon name and assets aren’t ours to give. Legally, these assets don’t belong to individuals: when HavenCon was incorporated as an official nonprofit organization, all these assets became the property of the organization itself."[20] Shane disputed this in a blog post, stating they were confusing the "It's Your Haven Foundation" nonprofit with the HavenCon convention, not a legal entity.[19]

On July 26, Shane posted on his Facebook that he was giving up the fight, saying that "It's evident they have the support and I don't. So..they get to keep HavenCon..I can't keep expending the energy and wrapping myself in what ends up being disappointment around this. [...] I'm not going to wish them ill, nor will I wish them luck...they are already leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I started HavenCon and can hopefully improve upon my 5 years of hard work. [...] It hurts. But I guess that trying to hold onto it is just going to hurt more, and so I have to let go. I'll have fond memories, and I hope others do too."[21]

HavenCon 5

HavenCon 5, with the theme "Be Curious", took place April 19-21 of 2019.[22] Special guests included Justin Saint, Tracee Lee Cocco, Karin Weekes and Patrick Weekes of Bioware, Brian Kunde of GaymerX, and authors Chrishaun Keller-Hanna and W.T. Meadows.[23]

HavenCon 6

The sixth iteration was originally planned for November 6-8 of 2020. However, on August 30 of 2020 it was announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the con would be pushed back to April 23-25 of 2021.[24] On January 31, 2021 it was announced that there would be no in-person convention that year, but they were planning online events in lieu.[25] However, the online events failed to happen, and in July of 2021 new dates for the next HavenCon were announced: April 22-24 of 2022.[26]

Attendee perspectives

I came out publically as Bisexual 2 years ago at the first year of HavenCon. I was embraced without question, without discrimination or biphobia rearing its ugly head. I felt loved. I felt valid. I felt safe. This is an experience everyone should have when coming out but sadly it feels like a rare one.

For those of you who dont know, HavenCon is Texas’ first LBGTQA+ focused geek convention. To meet people like me, to wear my sexuality proudly and be embraced by everyone in attendance was more than i could have ever dreamed. I made so many new friends that year and the year after as i surely will again next year. I found strength through the love and support of the HavenCon community but most importantly through its organizer, Shane.

Throughout the last 3+ years I’ve witnessed Shane’s undying determination, love and hope for change create this amazing space where people of any orientation can be safe. Hatrid has attempted to derail Shane’s work but the community continues to show that we will have none of it. This includes being afraid to gather for fear of another mass shooting. Everyone deserves a haven and we’ll be damned if we let ours be taken away.

So, my friends, my followers, my mutuals- No matter your orientation, no matter your gender (even my furry pals!)consider joining us next April for HavenCon’s third year![27]
Having a safe haven to understand yourself and place in the game community is what HavenCon is about in our view. The event is a great resource for gaymers to express and celebrate their natural preferences and diversity together. In many ways it’s much like any other convention with cosplay, games, and other activities, except with HavenCon attendees have a space to pull back that game cloak without being afraid of supposed friends shaming them for being different.

All of the planning that went into HavenCon was worth it, starting with the coordinator’s choosing a hotel that had a layout that didn’t make you walk for hours to find the bathroom, or wonder if the next person around the corner was friend or foe. The convenience was welcomed by all. Nearly all con space was on one floor, which made it nice to both access a panel in a hurry, as well as impossible not to bump into an existing friend or meet someone new.[28]
This past weekend my Girlfriend and I worked in the artist alley at Havencon. And it was AMAZING. Easily the most fun I’ve had at a convention in a long time. Havencon is an LGTBQ nerd-fest which was the perfect combo for conversation and comfort. So it was like, I didn’t have to worry about being a big lesbo around anyone plus I could nerd out over comic books and videogames. It was a win-win.[29]
Many of the LGBTQIA+ individuals who attended the convention were at PAX, Comic-Con, GDC, and the other multitude of gaming and geek conventions. Even if HavenCon did not exist, they would still attend these conventions and have a fantastic time. What made HavenCon special and so important to gaming culture were the conversations being had! If you have gone to conventions before, how many panels were featured that talked about LGBTQIA+? Most likely there would be at least one (perhaps two if they were really progressive). The panel would probably be very broad, and certain groups and important conversations would be left out all together.

At HavenCon, there was panel on bi-visibility (thanks Mia Moore, Danni Danger, and StJoan), a panel on increasing economic opportunities for LGBTQIA+ game developers, panels on LGBTQIA+ superheroes, LGBTQIA+ in literature, and LGBTQIA+ in cosplay. There were also panels for beginner cosplayers, the history and future of gaming, the lives of voice actors, vampires in popular culture, women in gaming, and furries. [...] It’s conventions like HavenCon that I want to see more of. I want to see more of this open diversity and representation in gaming.[30]
This year we saw even more people from communities like the Deaf or the hard-of-hearing, furries, and even the polyamorous community - up to this point, I was unaware that it was as big as it is. Thanks to the interesting panel on polyamorous relationships. Panels were so diverse; from "Service Dog Etiquette" to "Body Positivity in the Cosplay Community", and my absolute favorite, "Working in Animation" with local animators from Austin's very own Powerhouse Animation Studios, Megan Kluck and Robbie Cook. The main complaints attendees were very vocal about were the fact that no prop weapons were allowed during the con, so a lot of superhero cosplayers were missing part of the cosplay, and that the video game room was very lacking, with only three systems to play, one an old-school arcade machine to play Pac-Man and Galaga.[31]

Gallery

External links

References

  1. ^ Facebook post January 10 2019
  2. ^ Facebook post January 12 2019
  3. ^ a b c Texas’ first LGBTQIA geek and gaming convention kicks off in Austin, Bradley Donalson, OutSmart Magazine, March 1 2015. Last accessed April 9, 2019.
  4. ^ Haven Con The First LGBTA Geek&Gaming Con of Texas
  5. ^ HavenCon The First LGBTQA Geek Convention of Texas
  6. ^ 1st Texas LGBTQA Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Gaming Convention: Austin in April 2015, press release, December 2, 2014
  7. ^ HavenCon Has A Successful First Year!, Facebook
  8. ^ HavenCon Radio Campaign GoFundMe
  9. ^ Post on Gay Austin Geeks tumblr, April 19, 2015
  10. ^ Con Report: HavenCon 2016!, April 26, 2016
  11. ^ HavenCon 2016 online schedule
  12. ^ James Russell (April 15, 2016). "HavenCon: LGBT gaming, geek convention is back". Dallas Voice. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  13. ^ HavenCon 3 online schedule
  14. ^ HavenCon Proudly Announces the It’s Your Haven Foundation for LGBTQ+ Geeks, Gamers and Creators. Sets Live Stream Event for December 8th and 9th., press release, December 5 2017
  15. ^ HavenCon 4: A Cosmic Journey on IndieGogo
  16. ^ HavenCon 4 online schedule
  17. ^ HavenCon Calls It Quits, Beth Sullivan, Austin Chronicle, January 24 2018
  18. ^ Facebook post, Shane Brown, May 5 2018
  19. ^ a b Founder Response, Shane Brown, July 9 2018 (Archived version)
  20. ^ Tweet by 'The Staff and Board of Directors of HavenCon', July 9 2018
  21. ^ Facebook post by Shane Brown, July 26 2018
  22. ^ HavenCon 5- Be Curious
  23. ^ Twitter thread, March 11 2019
  24. ^ Instagram post, Aug 30 2020
  25. ^ Instagram post, Jan 31 2021
  26. ^ Instagram post, July 10, 2021
  27. ^ "#MyHaven - Support HavenCon 2017". Kelli Nova Designs. June 13, 2016. Archived from the original on March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  28. ^ "Exploring a True LGBTQIA Haven at the Inaugural HavenCon Event". Events for Gamers. April 9, 2015. Archived from the original on 2022-04-22. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  29. ^ Carson (April 26, 2016). "Havencon!". As a Gay Scientist ... Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  30. ^ Katie (April 16, 2015). "#INeedDiverseConventions: HavenCon Is What Gaming Culture Needs". FemHype. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  31. ^ Carlos (May 9, 2017). "Nemui Nya Reviews: Haven Con (LGBTQI Convention)". youtube.com. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
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