AwesomeCon 2022, Part 1: Vibe Check

AwesomeCon 2022
The show floor of AwesomeCon 2022.

AwesomeCon 2022, a convention hosted in Washington, DC, returned this weekend with celebrity guests and great highlights.

This past weekend, AwesomeCon returned to the Walter E. Washington convention center in Washington, DC with AwesomeCon 2022. As with previous years, Awesome Con 2022 provided a variety of things for all kinds of fans, from celebrity guests to science-based programming. People who have attended the show in years past were welcomed back to the familiarity of the convention which also provided lots of new memories in the process.

Any in-person convention cannot be reflected on without discussing the Covid protocols. This year, AwesomeCon 2022 made the decision to make masks optional while continuing to not require proof of vaccination. While I was not thrilled with masks being optional, I ultimately made the decision to attend this year’s con as I had last year’s. I wore a mask the entire weekend, and I was glad to see others were as well. However, the split between masked and unmasked appeared to be either 50/50 or 60/40 in favor of the unmasked. Despite that, I still managed to find a way to quiet my anxiety throughout the weekend and still have fun.

Though I didn’t end up doing any autographs and photo ops this year, I heard that a few of the guests chose to do both their autographs and photo ops through Plexiglas. While I don’t fault any guest who chose to prioritize their health, the photos I saw with glass separating the guest and the fan were awkward and an unfortunate reminder that this pandemic is far from over.

To avoid the crowds, I once again walked the show floor on Friday. There were many familiar vendors and there was a good selection of things to attract the eye of anyone walking by. The Artist Alley has always been my favorite part of the show, and I’m happy to see the tradition of a dedicated section for authors and an LGBTQIA+ focused section, named Pride Alley, continue this year.

The programming offered fit into many different categories; fan discussions, science-based talks, cosplay tips, writer’s chats, and programming from the aforementioned Pride Alley. While I enjoyed the few of these panels that I attended, most of my time was spent at the Main Stage for the celebrity guest panels. Each panel I went to was exciting and there were so many great stories and moments throughout the weekend.

While much of AwesomeCon 2022 was indeed awesome, the most awesome moment for me was not due to any celebrity panel. It came during Saturday night’s main event, the cosplay competition. I was prepared to simply be amazed by the awesome cosplay, and the contestants certainly delivered. However, I was not prepared for the halftime entertainment while the judges deliberated. Fans got a drag show!

The drag show was as enjoyable as any other, but what made the moment awesome for me is how inclusive it felt. For several glorious moments, I relaxed and enjoyed the show. I forgot about the real-world stressors, the Covid anxieties, and that Awesome Con wasn’t actually an LGBTQIA+ exclusive event. While I’ve always loved the inclusion of Pride Alley, this mainstream featuring of LGBTQIA+ content at the con made me feel like I was in a truly inclusive and safe environment.

While I can’t speak to other identities, there were plenty of other efforts I saw to create an inclusive space. There was a booth for disability accommodations upon making it past security and into the convention center. As in previous years, the main stage panels all had sign language interpreters. The panels that I went to featured a group of diverse panelists and the Artist Alley appeared to be diverse as well. As I don’t intend to speak for those communities, I don’t know what improvements would be necessary in those areas.

If you attended AwesomeCon and have opinions about improving inclusivity, please drop them below.

There was a lot to like about AwesomeCon 2022. While the health and safety protocols could be improved, the weekend was an enjoyable respite from the issues of the real world. The traditional aspects of the convention remained fun, and the attempts to be inclusive were very much welcome.

AwesomeCon 2023 has been announced for June 16-18, 2023, at the Walter E. Washington convention center, and will hopefully remain awesome as it has in previous years.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.

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