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Queer Con: The Gayest Things to Do at San Diego’s 2015 Comic-Con

This year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego is shaping up to be the queerest yet, with fabulous LGBT programming on all four days of the pop culture convention and plenty to do outside of the meeting rooms.

Here are the top five LGBT things to do:

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1. Visit the Prism Comics booth. Prism is the nonprofit organization for LGBT comic and graphic artists. Not only does its booth (#2144) offer queer books, comics, and T-shirts, but it’s one of the best places to find LGBT creators. Some of those scheduled to appear and sign their work include:

• Ed Luce: Wuvable Oaf (Oaf, pictured above)
• Alex Woolfson: Artifice
P. Kristen Enos: Web of Lives
• M.A. Fortino and Joshua Miller: The Finals Girls
• Joseph Glass: The Pride Comics Series
Jeff Krell: Jayson Comics
• David Reddish: Sergius & Bacchus
• Peter Saenz: Coven of Wolves Book Series

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2. Find the queer and trans geek stuff on the exhibit hall floor. Here you’ll find some of the biggest names in pop culture (major film and TV studios, book publishers, creators and actors) along with an eclectic mix of booths selling arts, crafts, clothing, and collectibles. Some Comic-Con attendees attack the enormous space with map in hand; others zigzag through or pinpoint particular booths. Whatever your style, consider stopping by these booths:

The women’s geek fashion line Her Universe (pictured above) offers dresses, cardigans, tops, skirts, hoodies, jewelry, and much more from Star Wars, Marvel, Star Trek, Studio Ghibli, and Nerdist. The Star Wars Her Universe boutique will be located in the Lucasfilm Pavilion (#2913Q), and a second boutique (Booth #1317) is filled with other fangirl fashions from Marvel, Star Trek, and more.

Check out Comic-Con exclusive collectibles like the Batgirl '66 action figure from Entertainment Earth (Booth #2343),  Funko's Black Widow Pop! figure and T-shirts at Booth 5341 and glow-in-the dark White Lantern Wonder Woman from Funko Pop! Available at Fugitive Toys Booth #601.

ComiXology: Drop in on the digital comic book store Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. to pick up a free copy of Lumberjanes #15 with a variant cover by Hope Larson. Larson and cocreator Shannon Watters will also be signing copies. Five hundred copies are available on a first-come, first-served basis. (Booth #2547)

Dark Horse will have its numerous comics and graphic novels, including many LGBT-friendly series such as iZombie (action figure alert!) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Booth #2615)

Fantagraphics BooksPick up a copy of the first Wuvable Oaf, the erotic gay bear collection by Ed Luce; delve into the lives of Japanese trans kids in the great Wandering Son series; or check out this publisher’s plethora of other LGBT comics and books. Don't miss Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, which is smart and amazingly hot at the same time.  (Booth #1718

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3. Getting to meet your favorite creators.
Whether it's stopping at the Prism booth (see above), visiting Authors Alley and getting one-of-a-kind orginal artwork from your favorite artists, dropping by publishing booths for signings, or just bumping into someone in the hallways, there are endless opportunities to meet the folks behind your favorite comic, graphic novel, TV show, or movie.

Catch Jennie Wood (pictured above) in the Small Press Area at table Q-14 and check out her wonderful graphic novel Flutter, Vol. 1 (which features a gender-shapeshifting teen hero), the mini comic preview of Flutter, Vol. 2, and a limited edition FUBAR Jennie Wood collection comic.

You can also learn more about featured speakers like Joe Phillips. Phillips (comic artist, writer, painter, creator) discusses his 30-plus years in the comics industry, from fandom to getting into the majors at Marvel and DC, his time at Gai Jin Studios, and much more. Phillips will also talk about his art for the LGBT geek community and his return to mainstream comics with his new character the Midsummer's Knight. Thursday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Room 4 11

Anything Goes with John Barrowman. Barrowman (Arrow, Torchwood, Doctor Who) is an entertainer who sings, dances, acts, presents, judges, and will answer any question. Saturday, 3-4 p.m., Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront

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4. Take it outside.
As Comic-Con has continued to expand exponentially, more and more events are starting to take place outside of the convention center. While trekking into the rest of San Diego may not be high on every convention attendee’s list, these events are great opportunities for those who didn’t get a chance to buy a ticket six months ago when they sold out to get in the Con action.

Here are a couple of events well worth the trip:
The 11th Annual Heroes vs. Villains Comic-Con After Party: Sponsored in part by Bent Con and Prism, the queer dance party also features a cosplay contest hosted by drag geekstress Kickxy Vixen-Styles. $10 cover or come in costume and it's free till 11p.m. Friday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., Rich’s Dance Club, 1051 University Ave., San Diego

SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque: This Comic-Con exclusive performance takes the burlesque troupe’s most creative, sexy, and all-around fun show and revamps and reimagines it for the Comic-Con audience. This geek fantasy spectacular will amaze, as the girls perform the sexiest of striptease numbers filled with pop-culture references. Thursday, 11 p.m. at the House of Blues in San Diego

In celebration of the new animated film Home (starring Jim Parsons (pictured above), Rihanna, Steve Martin. and Jennifer Lopez), Oh, the film's lovable misfit from another planet voiced by gay actor Parsons (Big Bang Theory) will be outside the convention center for photo ops. Thursday and Friday in front of the convention center

Geek Nation party: Red carpet event featuring celebrities including Tara Reid (Sharknado 3), Ian Ziering (Sharknado 3 and the original 90210), Thomas Jane (The Mentalist, The Expanse), Ming-Na (Agents of Shield), Ashley Madekwe (Salem, Revenge), Iddo Goldberg (Salem), Michael Malarkey (The Vampire Diaries), Retta (Parks and Recreation), and some cast members from American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones. Not a geek? You'd be surprised at how popular Sharknado is among us. Saturday, 11 p.m., Rooftop 600 at Andaz hotel, 600 F St., San Diego

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5. The panels. The popular Gays in Comics returns for the 28th consecutive year, making it the longest running SDCC panel. But that's just the tip of the iceburg this year. Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of the LGBT panels.

Thursday, July 9
5-6 p.m. Writing Transgender Characters
What is the best approach to writing transgender characters? How should creators balance the demands of authenticity, advocacy, and entertainment when representing this diverse and often misunderstood community? Prism Comics sponsors this panel with moderator Tara Madison Avery (Gooch) and panelists Knave Murdok (Transcat), Ronnie Ritchie (Gqutie), Kat Blaque (illustrator, animator), Dylan Edwards (Transposes), Dax Tran-Caffe (Falling Sky), and Gillian Cameron (Calogrenant). Room 28DE

6-7 p.m. LGBT Geek Year in Review
The past year has been filled with key moments in comics, TV, movies, and animation that every queer geek should know about. Join Prism Comics and moderator P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and panelists Diane Anderson-Minshall (The Advocate’s own editor at large), Amber Garza (Geeks OUT, Flame Con), Matt Kane (GLAAD), Chelsea Steiner (After Ellen), and Sean Z. Maker (Bent-Con). Room 28DE

Friday, July 10
10-11 a.m. Push Boundaries Forward: Gender, Diversity, and Representation in Comic Books
Moderator Amy Chu (Girls Night Out) leads panelists Maigrhread Scott (The Third Witch, Lantern City), IDW Publishing editor Sarah Gaydos, Derek Charm (The Powerpuff Girls: Super Smash-Up!), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions podcast), Christian Beranek (Validation), and BOOM! Studios representatives Christine Dinh and Chris Rosa in discussion on the topic of gender, diversity, and representation in mainstream comics. Room 4

1-2 p.m. Hopey, Julio, Skim, Oafs, and Beyond
Queer characters and voices have always been loud and proud in alternative and indie comics. Moderator Christopher Butcher (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) joins panelists Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets, Julio’s Day), Mariko Tamaki (Skim), and Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf) for a discussion of the history of queer character visibility. Room 28DE

2-3 p.m. Diversity and Queer Gaming
How are new gaming platforms giving a voice to underserved groups of players? How does the "Gaymer" identity spill beyond the tabletop, and what role do minorities have to play in an industry that still doesn't reflect its audience? Prism Comics sponsors this panel with moderator Josh Trujillo (editor, Death Saves-Fallen Heroes of the Kitchen Table) and panelists Matthew Michael Browne (video game product manager), Matthew Conn (filmmaker, Gaming in Color), Philip Jones (filmmaker, Gaming in Color), and Jenni Villarreal (Loot Crate) promising a wide-ranging discussion of diversity and roles in gaming, covering everything from Dungeons & Dragons to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Room 28DE

6-7 p.m. Queer Representation in All-Ages and Youth Media
As we've seen in the popularity and successes of LGBT-friendly series like Legends of Korra, Steven Universe, and Lumberjanes, queer characters and storylines continue to resonate with young audiences. Moderator Shannon Watters (Lumberjanes) and panelists James Tynion IV (The Woods, Memetic, UFOlogy), Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes), Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), and Kat Leyh (Supercakes) discuss how we can better include healthy representations and how to make them standard practice. Room 28DE

7-8 p.m. The Gay Agenda in Horror: Terrifying Subtext
The horror genre is based on our fears of the unknown, fear of "outsiders," and the attraction and repulsion of giving in to transgressions and forbidden passions. These elements have also been associated with the LGBTQ community mostly in a negative sense. There’s always been queer undercurrents in horror films since Dracula, but in the last few decades the queer side of horror has come out into the light. Join Prism Comics and moderator Michael Varrati (Sins of Dracula) and panelists Mark Bessenger (Bite Marks), M.A. Fortin (The Final Girls), Andy Mangels (Nightmares on Elm Street), Bart Mastronardi (Tales of Poe), Joshua Miller (The Final Girls), and Mark Patton (star of Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and former cover star for our sister publication Plus magazine). Room 28DE

Saturday, July 11
6-8 p.m. Gays in Comics 28: At the Intersection of Comics and Life
Prism’s long running panel examines how creator’s queer identities intersect with other aspects of their lives. Moderators are Roger Klorese (Prism Comics Board) and Paige Braddock (Peanuts, Jane's World), and panelists include Brian Andersen (Stripling Warrior, The Advocate), Kris Anka (Ms. Marvel, House of M), Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange), Dax Tran-Caffee (Failing Sky) and Kevin Wada (She-Hulk, Doctor Who). Hang out afterward to mingle and take part in the silent auction fundraiser for Prism Comics.

Sunday, July 12
10-11 a.m. End Bullying! Responding to Cruelty in Our Culture
Genre icon John Barrowman (pictured above) (Arrow, Torchwood) joins Pop Culture Hero Coalition's panel, topics include cyber/geek-bullying, misogyny, racism, LGBT/gender-bullying, equality, and heroism. Panelists include Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley (NOH8 founders), Bettina Hausmann (United Nations Association president), Anthony Breznican (EW senior writer), Joe Gatto (Impractical Jokers), Coalition founder Chase Masterson (The Flash, Star Trek), and cofounders Carrie Goldman (Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear) and Matt Langdon (founder, Hero Roundtable).  Room 24ABC

3-4 p.m. Queer Imagery in Animation
A panel about queer imagery in animation explores The Legend of Korra, Steven Universe, Bob's Burgers, American Dad, and more. Moderated by P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives), with panelists including The Advocate's Diane Anderson-Minshall, Matt Kane (GLAAD), and Emily Quinn (Adventure Time). Room 28DE

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