I found myself, the day after one of the largest comic cons in the county ended it's three-day run, at church.
And, as fate would have it, I was asked to stand in front of the men of the congregation and tell them a little bit about myself--kind of a "get to know each other better" exercise. I just happened to be the one chosen. I began by telling them I spent the last three days at the Salt Lake Comic Con and that's why I was so tired.
It was then an older member of the congregation asked a simple question.
"That convention...what's the point?"
A few chuckles rose from the other men in the room. I know the man asking the question; he meant no disrespect. He was generally interested in why people would spend hours and hours on costumes, and spend a lot of money to attend.
And so, I answered his question.
I told him and the other men in the room that this event, and others like it across the globe, allow people form all walks of life to come together and celebrate the things they love. I told them that when you walk inside, everyone you see is smiling. At least, that's what I see when I walk the floor or participate in a panel. I told them that inside that building is truly a "safe place," where no one makes fun of them--no matter how they're dressed. They can come and, if only for a few days, pretend to be someone else. Mark Hamill said to thousands of fans on Thursday, that you go to cons to escape reality for a moment, a reality that is many times not kind to those who are different. The crowd erupted in cheers when it said it because they knew the power in his words.
I told them that when they go to comic con, they're not bullied or put down, or made to feel inferior just because they'd rather play video games and read fantasy novels than get dressed up and go dancing. They'd rather play D & D than watch a bunch of fully-padded football players beat up each other on artificial grass and come away as heroes by society--a society that has many times, in their mind, abandoned them.
I stood and defended my fellow geeks and nerds, and I felt good doing it. But more importantly, I hopefully educated those men, many of whom may have dismissed the cons as another "waste of time." The cons are important, and by the success of the event going on three years has proven, they're sorely needed.
I've been fortunate enough to go to each of the events held in Salt Lake City the past three years. It's been an honor helping to put it on, even if it's in a small way. And when I walk from my car or the train station with hundreds of other con attendees to the building, I walk a little talker because of of what that that badge around my neck represents. I am a nerd and I am home.