GAY GEEKS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

WonderCon 2019

Edited by Ariel Landrum and Christopher Edelen

Photos from Stefanie Bautista

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WonderCon is an amazing time to buy merchandise and see the latest and most anticipated film or television show coming out this year. People of all geek backgrounds attend this convention, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, in hopes of connecting with their fellow geek community.

As the convention grows, so does its representation of all people within fandoms. Though I knew the geek part of my life was well represented at this event, I didn’t think it would be a place where I would attend a panel called Gay Geeks and Where to Find Them. I learned so much about these two communities that I’m apart of.

The panelists that were chosen were well thought out, giving strong inspiring messages on embracing yourself. It was also filled with speakers that came from all different parts of the entertainment industry, from a professional cosplayer, all the way to writers on hit shows.

The panel included Mike Page, Renee Jeske, Rick Montano, Vinnie Ingrao, Chris Reilly, Ray Lancione, and David Booher. Chandler Poling was the moderator. Each one of these industry professionals are a part of the LGBTQA+ family, and they each had insight on how being a part of the community helped them influence what they wanted to do with their creative energy.

One of the big topics of the panel was whether or not the panelists were openly out at work. Each of these panelists gave thoughtful answers on why they decided to come out in the workplace. The general consensus was we as a community need to come out in order to be seen, heard, and therefore respected.

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Mike Page is a long time casting director for TBS/TNT, who is out in the workplace. He mentioned that the majority of casting directors are women or gay men. Renee Jeske works for Disney Music Group (DMG), and she had to come out as Bi to her boss in order to participate in this panel. Rick Montano and Vinnie Infrao are two writers on CW’s Roswell, New Mexico. They helped write for the LGBTQA+ characters that are on their show.

Chris Reilly is a professional cosplayer and he has been doing this for years. He actually had to come out to his parents in the early part of his career due to them finding out about his male cosplay pinup.

Ray Lancione works in video game development, and is president of Qwerty Gamers, a non-profit for LGBTQA+ gamers. Lastly, David Booher is a comic book writer based out of Los Angeles.

They talked about how networking in the entertainment industry is the most important task for any industry hopeful. Networking allows you to meeting creatives that can one day potentially get you a job.

The panel ended with an audience member asking a very important question: how diversity plays a factor in finding a job in the entertainment industry. Though the panel was filled with people of the LGBTAQ+ community, the table was filled with mostly white panelists, which they were very considerate about this topic.

Page said, “There will always be room at the table for people of color.” Diversity is changing the way Hollywood is looking these days and, it’s only going to get more diverse. This panel understands that, and it’s refreshing to see these viewpoints of the LGBTAQ+ community represented.  

Follow Jason C. on Instagram: @basic_jason