For part two of our feature I wanted to cover the second event a saw in my twitter feed, on the same day I saw the story about Grayson. Conventions are another thing close to my heart, as a collection of almost all of my interests all in one place. For anyone reading this that doesn’t know what cosplay is, here’s my brief take. Cosplayers are people who like to design, craft, and wear costumes of their favorite characters from movies, comics, games, and anime. They generally attend conventions to show off their skills, and interests, meet other cosplayers, and yes, to be in the spot light in some cases. Many cosplayers are becoming celebrities themselves, attending cons all over the world, and sharing their interests with thousands of people. In some cases these devoted fans are bullied, or as we call it when it happens to adults, harassed.
About 99% of convention attendees are geeks, nerds, uber-fans, whatever you want to call it.. I’m one, and I’m proud of it. We like things that are generally not considered cool (though that’s a matter of perspective, socially acceptable activities like watching basketball are uncool to me), are fans of shows, books, and games that the ‘in crowd’ just doesn’t get. We were bullied in school for our glasses, our fantasy books, dice bags hanging from belts, and comic books stashed in lockers. We were called nerd, geek, and dork as if they are labels of derision and now we wear them as badges of honor. We are proud of it because we have grown up to realize that we have inherited all the coolness it is to be an adult and have fun. Techies, computer enthusiasts, comic artists and writers, game designers, and fantasy fans have all found new outlets as adults in movies, TV, comics, books and games. In any given weekend I can go see a movie based on a fantasy or sci-fi book, or turn on the TV to tune in weekly to a show based on a comic book. That was not so 20 years ago when I walked, head down, through my school hoping the class jock didn’t find a reason to laugh at me.
Point is, when we are at conventions we are surrounded, practically drowning in people of like mind, interest, and experience, yet there are still bullies. The geek social structure still seems to be framed with pseudo alpha males and females, bullies, jocks, punks and nerds. It’s sad that even in the nerdvana of Comic Con you’ll find a Superman fan laughing at a My Little Pony fan because the thinks pastel horses are for girls. This bullying gets far worse in the case of female cosplayers. While cosplayers do sometimes dress in revealing costumes, that is not always the case, and it is never a reason to treat them differently. Appreciate their beauty, but do it with respect. Don’t gawk, don’t make rude comments, and be mindful that they are people just like you. Ask permission to put an arm around them for a photo, hells make sure you ask permission for a photo with them to start. They are there for themselves, as much as the fans and be respectful of that. If they do not want to be stopped, be nice and move on, don’t be rude or get angry. Remember too, cosplayers come in all shapes, sizes, and all definitions of beauty. They are geeks and nerds just like us, and as part of our community they deserve just as much respect as we want for ourselves. If that Slave Leia is a little curvier don’t make a snide comment about her weight, give her props for having the courage to wear what she wants and be seen doing it.