Author: Joe Di Gaetano
Often people ask me, “What’s so special about conventions?” Though they expect a complex answer, it’s pretty simple: it’s a home to share passions.
The type of convention a person attends depends on their interest, and trust me when I say there are a variety of conventions for each interest. Whether gaming, movies, comics, anime, food, or makeup, there is a place for each passion.
In the regular world, being a fanatic about something can be seen as obsessive and embarrassing, sometimes bringing ridicule and pain. Though with movies and television, such interests as comics and superheroes are becoming mainstream, it wasn’t long ago that anyone over 12 who donned a Spiderman t-shirt would be teased.
When you walk into the convention halls and see people who love the things you love as much as you love them, there is a sense of belonging that was once missed in your daily world. Memories are created in these halls that only make sense to someone who is a part of it.
My friend told me of the pure joy she experienced after trading a Superman pin for a Wonder Woman one at San Diego Comic-Con. The glow in her eyes as she told this story, well, you don’t just see that anywhere. Though an average individual may hear this story and think, “That’s cool, I guess,” a convention attendee would react with, “Oh my God, you are so lucky. That’s freaking awesome!?”.
Why such enthusiasm? Well, imagine spending an entire day looking for someone with the specific enamel pin you want and then mustering the courage to ask them to trade, to get a no because you don’t have the very thing they are looking for. Then completing your long, laborious quest by finding another individual who spent their whole day trying to find the item you held in your hands? That’s convention magic!
You see, these passions become a lifestyle for the convention attendee, and finding a community that shares these feelings creates a sense of purpose and belonging. At a convention, individuals can partake in panels that dive right into their fandom, buy merchandise of their favorite characters at booths, turn the corner, and see another fan in cosplay or the actual actor who plays that character.
For those who still aren’t getting it, equate it to the immediate camaraderie of seeing someone wear your favorite sports team logo when you’re living in another country. You’ve spent your days watching the games by yourself; maybe you share with your co-workers or not. In the end, how could they understand? They don’t even play that sport in this country. Then going to your favorite bar, seeing that team logo shining bright on a backward cap, and thinking, “My people!” That’s the same feeling a badge holder gets when they attend a convention. The instant sense of home.