Out and Proud at SDCC

San Diego Comic-Con, July 20–23, 2017, was a mind-expanding celebration of geek culture that delivered an entire galaxy of programming for virtually any fandom. And although there was plenty for the queer eye to take in during the most high-profile SDCC events...

"What were you the god of again?"

...LGBTQ attendees were treated to a number of queer-focused panels, events, and reveals. These are some of the great LGBTQ things that happened last weekend at SDCC:

LGBTQ Panels

Thursday evening was a big gay night at the con with several queer panels. The first was Moonlight and Magic: Black LGBT Contributions to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics, and Genre, moderated by Faith Cheltenham (BiNet USA) with panelists Viktor Kerney (Prism Comics), Ajuan Mance (8-rock.com), Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con), Monica Roberts (TransGriot, National Transgender Advocacy Coaltion), William O. Tyler a.k.a. WOT (Queerbait), and Eliot Sutler (BiWoCC).

Next up was the annual LGBTQ Geek Year in Review, moderated by P. Kristen Enos (Prism Comics). Panelists, including Geeks OUT's own Amber Garza, presented both the highs and lows in queer representation in 2017 geek culture. The lively discussion ranged from the problematic so-called representation in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the death and sort-of resurrection of Sense8, Wonder Woman, and the groundbreaking (and really, really sexy) gay Muslim male representation on American Gods.

From left to right: Megan Townsend, Marc Andreyko, Kris Anka, Sina Grace

Later Thursday evening, the It Gets Geekier: Why Queer Representation Matters panel brought together content creators such as Sina Grace (Iceman), Kris Anka (All-New X-Men), and 2017 Eisner Award winner Marc Andreyko (Love is Love) to discuss their experiences as comics professionals and their work to bring authentic queer characters to their audiences. Megan Townsend of GLAAD was also on the panel to contribute the perspective offered by GLAAD's annual Studio Responsibility Index and Where We Are on TV report, which are comprehensive assessments of queer characters, stories, and voices in popular media.

The Bisexuality and Beyond panel convened on Friday afternoon to discuss visibility and representation in geek culture, and included Tara Madison Avery (Gooch, Anything That Loves), R. J. Aguiar (YouTube's TheNotAdam, NotAdamAndSteve.com), Lynnette McFadzen (BiNet USA), and Eliot Sutler (BiWoCC), moderated by Faith Cheltenham (BiNet USA).

Finally, the most venerable of SDCC queer panels, Gays In Comics, was on Saturday evening and was followed by a mixer/fundraiser for Prism Comics. This was the event's thirtieth year on the SDCC event schedule, and founder and long-time moderator Andy Mangels (Prism Comics) returned for a very welcome surprise announcement: to be more inclusive of all members of the LGBTQ community, the panel will be titled "Out In Comics" at future Comic-Cons.

Andy Mangels, Sina Grace,Tara Madison Avery, Phil Jimenez, Molly Ostertag, Steve Orlando

Danger & Eggs Panel

Although it was not an LGBTQ panel in a technical sense, the panel for the Amazon Prime children’s animated show, Danger & Eggs, was certainly a queer-positive celebration of this new cartoon. The panel featured showrunner Shadi Petowsky and its cast, including SNL’s Aidy Bryant, and was moderated by Chris Hardwick.

Danger & Eggs is groundbreaking in its honest, humorous, and fun portrayal of children characters who do not have binary gender expression and who experience anxiety. If you have or love kids, definitely spread the word about this adorable show.

Love Is Love Wins Eisner Awards

If you missed it, the Love Is Love comics anthology is a moving tribute to victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy. Love Is Love was compiled by Marc Andreyko, edited by Sarah Gaydos and Jamie S. Rich, and published by IDW with support from DC. The anthology features comics by some of the industry’s leading artists, writers, and creators.

On Friday night of SDCC, Love Is Love won the Best Anthology award at the 29th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the comics industry equivalent of the Academy Awards. The judges also recognized the Love Is Love organizer Marc Andreyko with the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.

Marc Andreyko (Image: @comiXology)

Queer Representation Revealed

As previously reported by Geeks OUT, DC revealed that a character named Thirteen would join the cast of its animated series, Young Justice: Outsiders. In the current DC Rebirth comics, Traci Thirteen is a teenage sorceress and a lesbian, so this important news suggests that this show will soon have an out lesbian character.

Over in Ballroom 20 on Saturday afternoon, out actor Anthony Rapp (Rent), who will portray an openly gay science officer Lt. Stamets, appeared at the panel for the upcoming television show, Star Trek: Discovery. When Rapp was asked about the show’s representation of a queer character, he commented, "I'm very proud of that and that he's a scientist." But if this representation wasn’t exciting enough, Rapp announced at the SDCC panel that former Rent cast-mate Wilson Cruz portrays Dr. Hugh Culber, a Discovery medical officer and Lt. Stamets's on-screen partner. With the premiere of a compelling new trailer for the show, the SDCC Star Trek: Discovery panel was a thrilling and affirming experience for die-hard Trekkies and for all fans who value inclusivity in geek culture.

Off-Con Queer Space: Closet Smash

Some of the most interesting and rewarding experiences are not a part of the official SDCC programming. This year, Skybound and Geeks OUT presented the first annual Closet Smash, an off-site mini-convention especially for LGBTQ fans: no SDCC badge required.

In addition to mingling, an open bar, and delicious noshes, the three-hour event at the Harbor House restaurant offered two panels. The first was Choose Your Allies Wisely: Queer Voices in Straight Spaces, featuring Amy Reeder (Batwoman), Ross Marquand (The Walking Dead), Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes), and Sina Grace (Iceman), moderated by Kassie King (Skybound).

Then, Geeks OUT board member and Closet Smash organizer Amber Garza sat down with screenwriter and columnist Michael Varrati, Shadi Petowsky (Danger & Eggs, Yo Gabba Gabba), and Leighton Gray (Dream Daddy) to review this summer's queerest and most interesting new trends in a panel called Pride 2017 Hangover: Make It Gayer. Here's to hoping that this outstanding event appears again next year and provides a fun and interactive space for LGBTQ fans and creators to mingle.

Looking Ahead

Of course, not everything was as queer positive as we'd like. There was John Barrowman's tone-deaf "transgender TARDIS" quip, for example, and the drama surrounding the homophobic dismissal by the Supergirl cast of fan speculation about a lesbian relationship between Supergirl and Lena Luther. And many panels, even ones devoted to queer issues and inclusivity, tend to be made up largely of white commentators.

There is certainly more to look forward to and hope for at SDCC, but with events like Closet Smash and an increasing awareness of diversity in geek culture, it looks like we're boldly going in the right direction. Did we miss any of your favorite queer moments from SDCC? Share them below in the comments!

Special thanks to Amber Garza, who—in addition to contributing to this post—went way out of her way to make my SDCC experience this year a very memorable one.

Stephen T.'s picture
on July 25, 2017

So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb. -Dark Helmet