Flame Con, which is New York’s first LGBTQ comics convention and is purported by its organizers to be “America’s largest queer comic con,” has announced that the second year of their event will be “(toy) Gun-Free.” This is a direct action taken by the organizers in the wake of the June 12 mass-shooting in Orlando, Florida at Pulse, a gay nightclub. The tragedy left 49 dead and over 50 injured.
GeeksOUT and Flame Con co-founder Joey Stern released a statement this morning that outlined the new policy. The second annual Flame Con, held from August 20-21st at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, will not allow the following cosplay items:
- Any weapon of any kind—bladed or projectile—that looks or feels real.
- Any kind of gun or simulacrum of a firearm, no matter how fake it looks.
- Any prop that is heavy, hard, or sharp enough to injure a person (Err on the side of caution).
“Acknowledging the shock and trauma and grief our community is experiencing right now, we feel the need to go even further in making Flame Con a safe space for us all,” wrote Stern. “When crafting your props, keep it light and keep it safe.”
According to Stern, the toy-gun-free policy evolved from discussions with Marriott hotel management and staff over concerns regarding the safety of Flame Con attendees in the wake of the Orlando massacre, which is now the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in United States history.
The Pulse shooting has again ignited a national conversation on both the proliferation of mass shootings, which are generally defined as attacks where there are “four or more people shot in one incident,” and the availability of the weapons used to commit them.
Flame Con didn’t mince words when articulating their stance on how gun culture contributes to gun violence: “Guns are not toys. Guns are not accessories that can be flaunted in public without inherently making light of their intended use—while simultaneously making many people deeply uncomfortable,” Stern wrote, “If you bring a toy gun to Flame Con, no matter how unrealistic it might look or feel, you will be asked to check it.”
Stern added that while the con hoped fans would honor the policy by enacting weapon free cosplay versions of characters like Black Widow and Vash the Stampede, Flame Con will also provide “creative alternatives to traditional guns” to pose for photos with.
Flame Con drew over two-thousand fans to Brooklyn last June. This year, they have expanded their con offering in response to the demand. In addition to the new cosplay weapon policy, Stern’s statement reassured fans that con organizers “plan to bolster Flame Con’s security, and will be working with local law enforcement to ensure that even outside of the con, there will be people looking out for us.”
“We have also been reaching out to concerned fans,” Stern explained, saying the con hoped the cosplayers who attend the show this year “will help our community make a strong, colorful statement against gun violence, and our culture’s toxic love of firearms.”
For more information on Flame Con, visit: www.flamecon.org