It was a bright and sunny day when I drove into the city for one of my areas biggest anime conventions. I did not know what to expect, because I have never been to one. Once I came to my first red light, I remember seeing crowds of people unapologetically walking towards the convention center, cosplaying in bright colors and large getups. I could not help but to think, "these are my type of people." Once I got my badge from the registration desk, I walked towards a nearby balcony to overlook the main floor of the convention.
I was speechless. The creativity, originality, and expression was all unbounded. I have never seen so many magical people, in one space, fellowshipping with one another. The environment was very comfortable and not once did I feel judgement being passed. All the bright smiles, warm laughter, and random dabbing, filled my spirit with excitement.
After hours of exploring the convention, and 100+ rounds of Super Smash Brothers later, I sat by a fountain with a cool guy that I met. His name is Alex and he identifies as a trans male. He is no newcomer to these type of conventions, so he was filling me in to the lifestyle of a convention-goer. Eventually, the subject turned to our coming out stories. He went on to tell me how if it was not for cosplay and these anime conventions, he wouldn't have been exposed to an avenue for his identity.
At the conventions I was allowed to be a guy, nobody asked questions. I could dress up as any male character and nobody thought anything of it. Growing up, by imagination, I always identified with male characters in cartoons. I imagined myself being Simba. Hhmmm...maybe even Mufasa if he did not die.
Alex told me how it was around his middle school years that he realized he was a boy, despite what his body told him. He was always a big fan of anime, but the conventions were not introduced to him until his freshman year in high school.
I remember the first time I went to a convention. The whole community was so nice and helpful. They gave me advice on how to live life for me and nobody else. I was not too confident at the time, so I held back my true identity.
The second time I went to a convention, my confidence was improving. That day I decided to cosplay as a male character. I remember telling my convention friends, 'I identify as a male and prefer he/him pronouns,' and without questions I was a boy in all of their eyes. That whole experience really helped me.
The outside world can be very hard towards identity. I believe one of the most important journeys we have in life is finding our tribe of people to identify with. Alex explained to me how the wonderful world of cosplay helped him find like-minded friends.
It was a sense of security. It was overwhelmingly joyful to find people like me. It made me appreciate the convention environment. Although I did not get the support that I needed, from most of my walks in life, I can always count on my crazy cosplaying friends to make life worthwhile.
Throughout the convention weekend I met many people that agreed cosplay and the support at these conventions helped them shape their identity.
Remember, it is a great day to be the best you.
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