NYCC – A Mental Health Professional’s Take (Part 2)

Time to recap some of the awesome groups I saw making a difference at NYCC!

GLSEN/Antibullying Coalition

I knew that the Antibullying Coalition would have a space at NYCC, but I was excited to see GLSEN making a presence. Having a space for youth to talk to professionals (and their peers) about being bullied and resources they can turn to is definitely new to the convention world.


With the rise of bullying, and the added difficulties of cyber bullying, this topic is becoming more and more prevalent. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been seen as a bigger issue in this population yet, but I’ glad it’s receiving attention now.

While GLSEN and NOH8 were involved in the booth, and had a strong presence, the emphasis was not necessarily on LGBT youth, but on youth and bullying in general. The goal was to provide safe spaces for kids who are having a hard time to find help. While the open seating area provided to give them that space was empty (and looked like a ghost town) many of the times I walked by, it was also full of youth much of the time. Hopefully with time the word will get out that this is something provided at conventions and it will be more busy.

(Although…it would be better if we didn’t need it. Hmm…let me rephrase.)

Hopefully it will be more busy to get the word out until a time where it is something that is no longer needed.

Brave Girls Alliance

At the Antibullying Coalition booth was a group called the Brave Girls Alliance. Their goal is to bring attention to the fact that girls need appropriate, relatable role models in media.

They have brought a campaign to Times Square in which they have people tweet #BraveGirlsWant. Those tweets are up on a screen in Times Square for all to see and to promote what brave girls really want.


At NYCC, they went old school and had people who stopped by the booth put their tweets on a sticky note, which they would later tweet to the screen at Times Square.

Empowering young girls in a community where girls are mis/underrepresented is a wonderful idea. The fact that it is in such a populated space like Times Square makes it even better. So many people will see that girls need good role models, they are strong, and that they can do the same things boys can.

#BraveGirlsWant a good superhero movie with a standalone female lead! (Elektra doesn’t count,)

Geeks OUT

What would a convention be without a some scantily clad cosplayers?


The Mario in the photo was there representing Geeks OUT, and organization promoting LGBT equality in geek media. They had information about their dance party, LGBT comic creators, and also about their Skip Ender’s Game movement.

They’re essentially asking people to not pay to go see Ender’s Game when it comes out in theaters. Many cities (with Geeks OUT groups) are holding parties to give people somewhere to go other than the Ender’s Game movie. Another option they suggested were to buy a ticket to another movie, and then go watch Ender’s game.

The basic idea is to not give any money to movie because it will go to Orson Scott Card, who has previously given a lot of money to anti-gay hate groups. The fear is that giving money to Card will then give him more money to give to these anti-LGBT groups.

These guys were sweet and fabulous, and I love running into them whenever I’m at a convention!

Nerd Lounge

The Nerd Machine hosted a booth called the Nerd Lounge where you could go and charge your phone. (Brilliant, right? Captive audience!) While you were charging your phone, someone usually came by to ask you to participate in their photo booth.

The idea here was that you let the take your photo (which was free) and for every photo taken, Intel would donate $1 to Operation Smile. Operation Smile provides free surgeries for children to repair cleft lips and cleft palates.

With the photos being no cost to my fiance and I, there was no downside. The girl at the booth convinced us to take 5 photos. So in less than 5 minutes, we were able to give $5 (at no cost to us) to a good cause, and have some decent (and goofy) pictures of us together.


(I’m on the left)

Family Room

An awesome (and adorable) part of the convention was the Family Room. This was a space for parents to take their children and be free from the less family friendly aspects of a large convention.

Kid friendly activities such as coloring and other arts and crafts were provided, along with signings from all ages comic artists. The room was filled with laughter as children played and watched a Batman stage production put on by community college students.

Comics may not be just for kids, but those of us in the geek community tend to forget that there are still kids in the comics world. A safe haven from profanity, skimpy costumes, and being trampled by grown ups must be a welcome sight for children and parents alike.


The brilliance of it was that it was during the entire convention, rather than just on kids day (Sunday). I wish the signage telling people where it was had been better, and that it was maybe somewhat larger. I still think it was a success and that other conventions should take it into consideration.

Who doesn’t like little kids in cosplay? Anything to promote more of that, please!

Geek Therapy!

One of the most exciting parts of the weekend for me was hanging out with these guys!

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From left to right: Josué Cardona, Ali Mattu, Ph.D., Dr. Travis Langley, Steve Kuniak

(Image via @AliMattu)

The geek therapy movement was at NYCC in full force. The booth was full of geeky therapists and psychologists, ready to spread the word of how geek culture is saving the world.

Steve Kuniak was the one who decided to have a booth at the convention, and I think all of us can agree that it was brilliant. Steve brought along his PAX East research study (a current work in progress) as well as information about his planned Gamer Wellness Program.

Josué Cardona of geektherapy.com and the Geek Therapy Podcast was there as well, bringing information to the masses, and constantly rearranging the bookmarks and business cards on the table.

Also making appearances at the booth were myself, Ali Mattu, of Brain Knows Better, and Dr. Travis Langley.

Brain Knows Better is an intriguing science fiction psychology blog. (I’m particularly fond of Mattu’s breakdown of Spock’s psychology, which made me see the character in a whole new light.)

Dr. Langley wrote a book on Batman and Psychology, which he had for sale at the booth, and he was available for signings.

All of the books I have previously mentioned in this blog were there to peruse, along with many more. They even had a research journal available to look at. Anyone and everyone was welcome to come by and listen to the positive change that geek culture can provide

Many educators, therapists, and other helping professionals came by and were excited about a chance to use something they love to connect with the people they serve. It was also great to see parents, children, and big children (like myself) interested in geek therapy.

Many adults said that they wished something like this was around when they were growing up. That maybe they would have had a better experience with therapy. That alone shows that the geek therapy movement is something that is needed.

From what I saw, the booth was a big hit, and I hope it becomes a regular sight at conventions in the future.

NYCC was a blast, and I hope it’s even better next year!

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