“Queer and Then Nerd Convention” Haven Con Returns

Local queer fandom convention is all rainbow, all geek, & all set to go

This is not the first Haven Con. This is not even the first Haven Con article on the Chron website. But two years away has changed little about this irrepressible spot of queer fandom festivity in Texas.

Stretching over the April 22-24 weekend, this time at the Austin Marriott South, Haven Con is and always shall be your best community-based LGBTQIA multi-genre fandom con in ATX.

Courtesy of Haven Con

But what about that two year break? “I would say what prevented us from coming back shouldn't be hard to guess,” jokes Executive Director Tiffo Carmichael. Spiking COVID statistics throughout 2020-21 kept the con on ice, though a decent fall in the past year gave the HC team enough hope to move forward for 2022. COVID protocols will be in effect for the con, with full two-shots-and-a-booster vaccination card proof or a 48-hour negative PCR test required to enter. Susie Meadows, HC’s operations director and avid Star Trek and Muppets fan, adds that there’ll be plenty of sanitization stations around the hotel area as the mama bear in her started throwing elbows to make that happen. “We want you to be safe, both in the queer nerd sense,” she says, “and in the your-physical-health sense.”

Other than those hand-sani stands, much of what’s on the HC docket is its usual unusual offerings. Carmichael says this year’s slate of community created panels are a varied and very interesting bunch, ranging from Nineties/Aughts nostalgia, pride flag 101, queerness in the tattoo industry, queer wrestling, and more. As a fanfiction writer themselves, previously of the Cowboy Bebop variety, Carmichael says they most look forward to a panel on fanfiction bookbinding that has a workshop to match on building a physical tome for your transformative works. “It really runs the gamut,” they say of the myriad panels. “And that, to me, is partially reflective of what Haven Con supposed to be … It's not just sci-fi, it's not just video games, it's not just anime or whatever, but we are all over the place. Because to me, that's what makes the rainbow, right? [It’s] a little bit of everything.” (Though if everything is still not enough, there will be tabletop gaming going on constantly from 11am until 11pm each day.)

Courtesy of Haven Con

For those who love a good enamel pin or art print, HC’s vendor market will be stocked to please with 35 creators peddling a diverse array of fandom-forward fare. Meadows highlights also that all the makers are Austin-based as well as within the LGBTQIA family, with merch ranging from crochet to comic books, queer publishing houses to tarot cards. “Mostly it's just people who are passionate,” she says, “and have turned that passion into a physical thing, whether it's a book, an art print, a pen, a wearable of some kind that you can take home and enjoy.”

For Carmichael, the difference between other cons and Haven Con remains one of space. Unlike more general events such as PAX which will offer a single diversity lounge for marginalized groups, they want that sense of safety and community to extend through the entire event space. “We have always been a queer and then nerd convention,” Meadows adds. “It's not about being another PAX. It's not about being a Dragon Con.”

“I love seeing people get to be in this participatory space … where they're told that they are allowed to take as much space as they want,” Carmichael says before pausing in thought. “Maybe that's our new tagline: Take up space.”

“Hey,” Meadows laughs. “We needed a theme for year seven, right?”

Haven Con runs April 22-24, with registration starting April 21 at 6pm, and will be located at Austin Marriott South. Three-day passes run $65 for adults, $35 for youth 17 and under, with a one day pass being $35 for adults, $20 for youth 17 and under. Just want to party your nerdy nights away? Night event passes (admission after 6pm) are available for $15.

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LGBTQ, HavenCon, Tiffo Carmichael, Susie Meadows, Fandom, Comic Conventions

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