As I have noted several times here in the PRIDE, attending conventions has positive and measurable effects on those who attend. Fandom or geek conventions, related to science fiction and fantasy, comic books, horror, anime, and the like, build community, improve creative thinking, and decrease stress. This Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, the fabulous Dragon Con returns to full glory, post-pandemic style. At its recent pre-pandemic peak in 2019, it boasted over 85,000 known and documented attendees.
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. It is organized for fans by fans, featuring more than 3,500 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music, and gaming over five days, Thursday through Monday. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
With the Writers Guild, Directors Guild, and SAG-AFTRA labor disputes, and the delays and postponements of various projects, conventions aren’t be the same this year. Specifically, for the film and TV artists that fans clamor to see, the strikes mean that they are prohibited from even discussing their films and TV work or selling photos from their shows. Thus, the actors and actresses are there basically on their own, not as the promotional entities promulgated by a corporation, and can talk about anything they want to, except those pesky TV shows and films.
This year’s featured film and television guests include Omid Abtahi, Sean Astin, Paul Bettany, Bruce Boxleitner, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Tom Cavanagh, Claudia Christian, Emily Coutts, Wilson Cruz, Henry Ian Cusick, Grey DeLisle, Lucien Dodge, Colin Ferguson, Quincy Fouse, Gil Gerard, Lauren German, Mandip Gill, Celia Rose Gooding, Erin Gray, Neil Grayston, Scott Grimes, Yaya Han, Richard Harmon, Marcus Harvey, Willa Holland, Ryan Hurst, Mark Jackson, Gary Jones, Omri Katz, Marty Krofft, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Caity Lotz, Sean Maher, Nicole Maines, Lee Majors, Jason Marsden, Eddie McClintock, Paul McGillion, Katherine McNamara, Colby Minifie, Nathan Mitchell, Bob Morley, Anson Mount, David Nykl, Katy O’Brian, Adrianne Palicki, Khary Payton, Ethan Peck, Billie Piper, Freddie Prinze Jr., Ed Quinn, Jesse Rath, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Matt Ryan, Tracy Scoggins, Andy Serkis, Jewel Staite, George Takei, Eliza Taylor, Tasya Teles, Tasya Teles, Adam Tsekhman, Gina Torres, Carlos Valdes, Lindsay Wagner, Garrett Wang, Billy West, Elijah Wood, and DB Woodside.
There really is something for everybody, as each programming track has its own meeting space 24/7 throughout the convention, to do in as they please: Alternate & Historical Fiction, American Sci-fi & Fantasy Media, American Sci-fi Classics, Animation, Anime/Manga, Apocalypse Rising, BritTrack, Costuming, Digital Media, Diversity in Speculative Fiction & Literature Fandom, Electronic Frontiers Forums, Fantasy Literature, Filk Singing, Film Track, High Fantasy, Horror Track, Kids Track, Military Sci-fi Media, Puppetry, Robotics and Maker Fan Track, Science, Science Fiction Literature, Silk Road: Asian Cinema & Culture, Skeptics, Space, Star Wars Track, Trek Track, Urban Fantasy, Video Gaming, Writers’ Track, X-Track, and Young Adult Literature.
My personal favorite is the Diversity in Speculative Fiction & Literature Fandom Track, and I am on tap to moderate a few panels, including one on “Breaking Barriers: Empowering the Disabled in Fandom” and one on “Unleashing Comics: Mastering the Art of Print and Web.”
Jarvis Sheffield Marks Six Sensational Years of the Diversity Track at Dragon Con
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed., a luminary in the world of inclusive geek culture and graduate of Historic Tennessee State University celebrates the monumental achievement of helming the Diversity Track at Dragon Con for six unforgettable years. Dragon Con co-chair Sheffield remains excited about this opportunity.
“It has been both an honor and a privilege to contribute a vision that wasn’t just about adding numbers or ticking boxes,” says Sheffield. “It was about enriching the very fabric of our convention. The Diversity Track has made Dragon Con better, more insightful, and definitely more fun! We have over 40 hours of panels, parties, a short film exhibition, and a spot in the parade this year.”
This year’s edition promises to be bigger, bolder, and more inclusive than ever, a testimony to Sheffield’s vision and dedication. Dragon Con, the famed multi-genre convention held annually in Atlanta, Georgia, has been an epicenter of fandom for decades. It’s a place where science fiction, fantasy, gaming, and comics enthusiasts gather, but in recent years, a new force has emerged, championing a broader representation of voices: the Diversity Track.
Under Sheffield’s leadership, the Diversity Track has not only shone a spotlight on marginalized voices but has also enriched the entire convention with a spectrum of experiences, tales, and perspectives. These narratives, sometimes sidelined in mainstream media, have found a welcoming platform here, thanks to Sheffield’s unwavering commitment.
Highlights from the past six years include panels featuring acclaimed authors discussing their experiences and challenges as writers of color, LGBTQ+ representation in geek culture, and workshops on ensuring fandom spaces are accessible to all, irrespective of disability.
The success of the Diversity Track is a testament to both Sheffield’s leadership and the broader community’s hunger for a more inclusive narrative. Attendance has skyrocketed with each passing year, as more attendees recognize the value of understanding and celebrating the diverse stories that shape our world. This year, Sheffield hinted at some groundbreaking sessions and surprise celebrity appearances.
“Every year, we push boundaries, making sure everyone feels seen and heard,” Sheffield says. “Dragon Con is for all, and the Diversity Track is a glowing emblem of that principle. Our volunteers with the track are the stars that make the show shine. The Diversity Track has been blessed with some of the most fun, good spirited and kind people in the world.”
As fans gear up to attend the convention, there’s an electric buzz of anticipation. With a promising lineup and Sheffield at the helm, the Diversity Track is poised to deliver yet another year of unforgettable experiences. This isn’t just a win for Dragon Con, but for the larger narrative of inclusivity in the realm of fandom. For more information on the Diversity Track and its schedule at Dragon Con or the Diversity Track, visit http://www.dragoncon.org or https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiversityInSpeculativeFiction