Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Why I Love Dragon Con


I feel like I talk about this a lot. There's this wonderful island of alternate reality that only happens three days out of the year. It's called Dragon Con, and it's the premier Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention in the Southeast. I know what you're thinking, "Mondo. You're only kind of nerdy when it comes to Science Fiction. Do you really get that excited about a whole convention devoted to it?" And the answer, my dear ambiguous reader, is an enthusiastic "yes." Let me tell you why.
First off, it's an immense production. It lasts all of Labor Day weekend and is spread out among three major hotels in Downtown Atlanta. Attendance is well into the tens-of-thousands, and people come from all over the country to be a part of it. I went with some friends to watch the parade that happens on every Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. All of the fans that get dressed up as their favorite Science Fiction characters walk down a mile-and-a-half stretch of Peachtree St. to the rousing applause of thousands of on-lookers. Here's the thing: many of these people in the parade spend most of their lives being marginalized and mocked by a world that sees the obscurity of their passion weird and offensive. They are nerds in the truest form of the word. And, many don't ascribe to the level of nerd-dom that is considered socially acceptable or even cool in culture's current climate. These people are on the extreme end of the spectrum. This is easy to identify, as many of the themes and costumes overstep the socially-acceptable boundary of being a fan of Star Wars or Ghost Busters or Marvel Comic book characters. We're talking Steampunk, Anime, obscure video game characters, and World of Warcraft. These folks are nerds.
But, it is there that lies the beauty of it all. Here's the deal; at Dragon Con, these people are the heroes. They walk down Peachtree, proud as hell of what they are representing. They get to exist fully within their passion one weekend of the year. There are no nerds, everyone is "cool" and accepted. We get to celebrate beautiful human creativity together, regardless of where we exist on the nerd spectrum. I love it. With heads held high, oppressed and socially marginalized people wander around downtown Atlanta and get to have people ask for pictures and hear some degree of love expressed to them. It's redemption played out. And I think that it's something that Jesus smiles at; his children getting to be heroes, getting to be loved and admired for their passion. I'm pretty convinced that the celebration that Dragon Con is represents what heaven will be like; everyone embracing and celebrating how beautiful God has created us to be. Yes, Jesus loves Dragon Con.
And, yes. People take it too far sometimes. And, yes. The escape from reality can be a dangerous thing if it gets out of hand. But, I think that that is true about everything. People take everything too far: conservative/liberal politics, sports, work, music, relationships. It's the danger of being human. But, for Dragon Con goers to get to exist fully inside of what they're passionate about is the most beautiful thing in the world. Seeing it makes me want to participate, to take my own passion into the celebration and be part of it all. We are all human, and DC is a place to celebrate and pursue the thing inside of us that makes us long to be part of something bigger than ourselves. He has made us this way, to love with all of our hearts. He has made us to walk hand-in-hand with one another, rejoicing in our humanity, in our access to a God that loves us. At Dragon Con, in all of its weird and surreal obscurity, we exist together.

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