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SMOF News, volume 2, issue 39
Anti-gay legislation in Florida and Uganda, and news in brief.
Florida Politics Curtail Conventions
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, has just entered the race for the US presidential election in 2024, but he has been burnishing his conservative credentials for the last few years. In the current US political climate, this means getting anti-LGBTQ laws passed, such as the suppression of gender-related topics in schools, the banning of the use of self-chosen pronouns, restrictions on which bathrooms trans people can use, and reclassifying drag performances as “adult entertainment”.
This led to a bid to hold the 2023 NASFiC in Orlando being dropped last year, and now is starting to affect established conventions in Florida.
Megaplex Goes 18+
Concern over the possible effects of Florida’s anti-drag law have led Megaplex (Orlando, September 15-17), a furry convention, to limit itself to attendees 18 years or older. Its announcement says in part:
After reviewing Florida SB 1438 it has been decided that for legal reasons and protection of our attendees, our venue, and the overall convention, Megaplex 2023 attendees must be 18 years of age at the time of registration pickup. Megaplex has welcomed younger fandom members and their families since its inception and making this change was very difficult. The Code of Conduct has been updated to reflect this change and emails are going out to those affected.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill (SB 1438) to block venues from admitting children to "adult live performances, " defining them as “any show, exhibition, or other presentation that is performed in front of a live audience and in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.” A last-minute amendment also blocked government entities from issuing licenses for them.
Megaplex, like many conventions, does include 18+ events, held late at night and with extra checks to keep children from being present. However, also like many conventions, it holds daytime, all-ages panels about topics such as being trans. Some conservatives in the US have lately been trying to define any LGBTQ-related content as explicitly sexual.
Megaplex has slightly more reassuring news about Florida’s bathroom bill:
Many have also voiced concerns regarding CS/HB 1521. After Legal review, it has been concluded that this does not affect us as our convention is held in a private venue. We are talking with the hotel about the possibility of offering gender neutral restrooms in the convention space. If we are able to offer this we will have them clearly marked on our convention map.
ICFA Exploring Its Options
As first reported by File 770, the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (Orlando, March 13-16) is running a survey asking for thoughts on the situation in Florida and the possibility of moving the conference elsewhere. ICFA is an academic conference, and in addition to everything above, the DeSantis regime is not being kind to academia either.
IAFA, ICFA’s parent organization, opens its statement with:
We have received many concerns regarding the safety of our multiply-marginalized members, the ethical issues of spending organizational and personal funds in Florida, and many other concerns. We fully acknowledge and share your dismay over these developments, as they are antithetical to our organization's values of inclusivity, equality, and justice.
While the decision to move the conference is a significant one, we also understand that it may have practical implications and involve a complex process. Therefore, we assure you that we are actively exploring alternative options and potential venues. We are engaging with our partners and considering various locations that align with our values and prioritize the well-being of our members.
With the 2024 conference already seated, it is unlikely it could be moved without a significant financial penalty. However, if there is no contract for 2025 and beyond yet, ICFA would be free to move elsewhere.
Uganda Anti-Gay Law Stepped Down a Bit
With an active Worldcon bid for Kampala in 2028, Worldcon fandom has been watching the progress of a Ugandan bill which, in its original form, would have made merely identifying as gay punishable with life in prison. The safety of themselves and their friends being one of the key issues for Worldcon voters, this would have easily made the bid pointless.
After sending the bill back to the legislature for “improvement”, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed the revised version this week. The bill now imposes harsher penalties for gay sex, which was already illegal in Uganda, but does not criminalize identifying as gay.
As both BBC articles linked above note, “A similar law was struck down by Uganda's constitutional court in 2014.”
The Northeast Filk Convention (NEFilk) has announced that it will be skipping 2023 and plans to be back in 2024.
Nickel City Comic Con (Buffalo, New York, June 30-July 2) has added Ross Marquand as a guest.
BayCon 2023 (Santa Clara, California, July 1-4) has added an appearance by Robert Picardo, representing The Planetary Society.
Anime Expo (Los Angeles, July 1-4) has added Takayuki Hirao, Kotaro Takata, and Masakazu Morita as guests.
Tampa Bay Comic Convention (Tampa, Florida, July 28-30) has added Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Grant Gustin, Richard Karn, and Kevin McNally as guests.
FanX Salt Lake (Salt Lake City, Utah, September 21-23) has added Grant Gustin, Erica Schroeder, and Pauly Shore as guests.
Balticon 58 (Baltimore, Maryland, May 24-27, 2024) has announced L. E. Modesitt Jr (Writer GoH), Sheila Williams (Editor GoH), Rhiannon’s Lark (Music GoH), and Alex Jennings as its initial guests of honor.
Weekend of June 2-4
ConCarolinas 2023, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
ConQuesT 54, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Fantasticon 2023, Copenhagen, Denmark
Oz-Stravaganza 2023: Over the Rainbow to Oz (Wizard of Oz), Chittenango, New York, USA
JodiWorld (Chronicles of St. Mary’s/Time Police series), Coventry, UK
Cogs & Corsets (steampunk), Bloomington, Illinois, USA
FlaMinGoCon 22 (gaming), Delray Beach, Florida, USA
UK Games Expo (gaming), Birmingham, UK
Y-Con 2023 (gaming), Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
SaltCON Summer (gaming), Layton, Utah, USA
DieCon 2023 (gaming), Collinsville, Illinois, USA
Zomerspel 2023 (gaming), Merelbeke, Belgium
Wellycon 2023 (gaming), Wellington, New Zealand
NordCon (gaming), Hamburg, Germany
Ultra Gaming Expo (video games), McAllen, Texas, USA
North Texas RPG Con (vintage tabletop RPGs), Irving, Texas, USA
64 Bits or Less (retro video games), Corvallis, Oregon, USA
A-Kon Episode 32 (anime), Irving, Texas, USA
My Hero Convention: Alabama (anime), Birmingham, Alabama, USA
KimoKawaii (anime), Conroe, Texas, USA
Anime Marathon, Königslutter am Elm, Germany
YUMiCON (anime), San Antonio, Texas, USA
DoKomi (anime), Düsseldorf, Germany
Awesome Con (media), Washington, DC, USA
3 Rivers Comicon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Austria Comic Con, Wels, Austria
Portsmouth Comic Con, Portsmouth, UK
Argentina Comic Con, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phoenix Fan Fusion (media), Phoenix, Arizona, USA
ColossalCon (media), Sandusky, Ohio, USA
North Country Comic Con, Watertown, New York, USA
Warsaw Comic Con, Warsaw, Poland
Etna Comics 2023 (media), Catania, Italy
Sci-Fi-London 23 (film festival), London, UK
Whinny City Pony Con 2023: Tropical Getaway (My Little Pony), Schaumburg, Illinois, USA
Weekend of June 9-11
Konflikt, the 2023 European Science Fiction Convention, Uppsala, Sweden
2023 Metropolis Superman Celebration, Metropolis, Illinois, USA
Heroes, Villains, and Blerds (art), Winter Park, Florida, USA
áyA Con (indigenous comics and art), Denver, Colorado, USA
Airikas Traum XVII (music), Erbach, Germany
Bayou Wars 2023 31 (miniatures gaming), D’Iberville, Mississippi, USA
AnimeCon 2023, Rijswijk, Netherlands
Wie.MAI.KAI (anime), Flörsheim am Main, Germany
Rocket City Anime Convention, Huntsville, Alabama, USA
JAFAX 2023 (anime), Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
OMG!con 2023: Magical Girls (anime), Owensboro, Kentucky, USA
Space Coast Comic Con, Cocoa, Florida, USA
Oz Comic-Con: Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
SWFL SpaceCon (media), Cape Coral, Florida, USA
Sci-Fi Valley Con (media), Altoona, Pennsylvania, USA
Fan Expo Dallas (media), Dallas, Texas, USA
Comic Con Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
The Bride of FrankenCon (horror media), Alcoa, Tennessee, USA
Weekend of June 16-18
YetiCon, The Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada
Pyrkon, Poznań, Poland
4th Street Fantasy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
StokerCon 2023 (horror), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
International Steampunk Symposium: Steampunk Under the Big Top, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
CastleCon 12 (anthropomorphic), Horb, Germany
StratosFur (anthropomorphic), Houston, Texas, USA
Arcon 39: Drager og Demoner (gaming), Oslo, Norway
Congress of Gamers Summer Session, Rockville, Maryland, USA
Q-Con 2023 (gaming), Belfast, UK
Board Game Fest, Chavdar, Bulgaria
Gaming Istanbul (video games), Istanbul, Turkey
AnimeCon UK, Birmingham, UK
Anime Onsen, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Cosplacon 2023: Onward to Battle (anime), Jefferson City, Missouri, USA
Desucon 2023 (anime), Lahti, Finland
AnimeNEXT 2023, Atlantic City, NJ
Anime Festival Orlando 2023, Orlando, Florida, USA
ExpOtaku Zaragoza 2023 (anime), Zaragoza, Spain
Heroes Convention (comics), Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Rail City Fan Fest (media), Saint Albans, Vermont, USA
Contropolis Massachusetts (media), Marlborough, Massachusetts, USA
Awesome Con (media), Washington, DC, USA
Weekend of June 23-25
LibertyCon 35 / DeepSouthCon 61, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
PortConMaine: Year of the Yokai, Portland, Maine, USA
Narrativity 2023 (storytelling in literary sf), Plymouth, Minnesota, USA
Cosplay America, Cary, North Carolina, USA
The Town That Never Was (steampunk), Telford, UK
Aurawra (anthropomorphic), Sydney, Australia
Origins Game Fair 2023, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Nexus Game Fair, Brookfield, Wisconsin, USA
Magic City Con (gaming), Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Game Con Canada, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
GeeklyCon 2023 (gaming), Rochester, New York, USA
Too Many Games (video gaming), Oaks, Pennsylvania, USA
Neo Anime Oasis:02, Boise, Idaho, USA
SunnyCon Anime Expo, St. James Park, UK
Black Hills Con (anime), Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
Anime Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Bold Matsuri (anime), Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Anime Sekai, Abilene, Texas, USA
Finn-Con@MDC (anime), Miami, Florida, USA
Anime Festival Wichita, Wichita, Kansas, USA
Kyokai Con (anime), Mission, Texas, USA
AnimeSHOW 2023, Bratislava, Slovakia
Forest City Comicon, London, Ontario, Canada
Mississippi Comic Convention, Jackson, Mississippi, USA
Smallville Comic Con, Smallville, Kansas, USA
Lewisburg Comic-Con, Lewisburg, Ohio, USA
Greater Austin Comic Convention, Cedar Park, Texas, USA
TrekFest 38: Quark's Bar (Star Trek), Riverside, Iowa, USA
Weekend of June 30-July 2
SoonerCon 31, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
Festival Fantazie, Chotěboř, Czech Republic
BayCon 2023: A Night at the Space Opera, Santa Clara, California, USA
Anthrocon 2023: Anthropolis: Our Furry City (anthropomorphic), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Paris est Ludique! (gaming), Paris, France
DexLite (gaming), Morristown, New Jersey, USA
RAGECON 2023 (gaming), Sparks, Nevada, USA
ShepparCon ‘23 (gaming), Shepperton, UK
Delta H Con (anime), Houston, Texas, USA
DoKomi (anime), Düsseldorf , Germany
Sydney Manga & Anime Show, Sydney, Australia
Anime Expo 2023, Los Angeles, California, USA
BA-CON 2023 (anime), Pasadena, Texas, USA
Kowai Con (anime horror), Pflugerville, Texas, USA
Fan Expo Denver (media), Denver, Colorado, USA
Avalon Expo 10/X (media), St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
Nickel City Comic Con, Buffalo, New York, USA
Hershey Comic Con, Grantville, Pennsylvania, USA
Florida Supercon (media), Miami Beach, Florida, USA
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