LeakyCon is a Harry Potter convention. That is the generic answer to the often asked “What is?” question. This isn’t the whole truth. The whole truth is very hard to put into words for people who have never been passionate about something as simple as a book, movie, or TV show. It’s hard to explain to people who fit in to the normal every day, who don’t know what it’s like to have a hard time finding other people who share in your love of fictional universes. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to just find people that accept your passion for fiction at all without ridicule.
LeakyCon is more than a Harry Potter convention. It’s a safe haven, a loving community, a bunch of people changing the world by being themselves and loving every minute of it. We make new friends, we sing silly songs, and we watch crazy productions put together by other fans. We raise money, we raise awareness, and we inspire people.
For me, someone who isn’t a huge Harry Potter fan, I only ever went because my sister wanted me to go with her. I was astounded to find a community of people who I fell in love with. A place where I felt more at home then I do in my own town and where I feel more comfortable being myself then I do with the people I hang out with on the weekends. A place where my social anxieties lessened and I feel comfortable letting my inner child run amok and telling strangers how awesome they were for doing the same.
LeakyCon, to me, has become way more than just a convention about Harry Potter. It’s the place I go to remind myself that it’s OK to be me, and that there are many, many other people out there who are struggling to be true to themselves in this world too. The sad fact of the matter is as the last day rolls around you hear people who are genuinely heart broken at the thought of leaving. Not because they will miss the parties and stalking celebrities, but because they will miss each other and that feeling of safety and acceptance. The days after the conference are followed by realizing again that it’s not socially acceptable to talk to strangers while waiting in line at the check out or to break out into song whenever you feel like it. It’s not OK to wear a witches hat or be passionate about something other then politics or a major crisis. We are reminded that we should yell at each other instead of listening, think of ourselves before others, and suppress what makes us individuals so we better function with the mass organism that is humanity. Our convention is called stupid, a waste of time, and we are given funny looks and made to feel bad for taking a few days out of our lives to enjoy ourselves like we never could back in the “real world”.
This brief instance in time that seems to exist in a completely different universe is one of the most amazing things I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. You will find very few other places in the world where love and acceptance are the main themes, where you can hug a stranger and feel good about it, and where you can make a new life long friend in a day.
It’s not about Harry Potter, or the actors, or the shows and panels. It’s about all the strangers who come together, accept and love each other the moment they set foot in the convention halls, and that desire to make the world feel more like home. That’s what makes this convention great and that’s what will carry it into the years to come. I can only hope that someday I can be a part of creating something that has such a profound and positive effect on people’s lives as LeakyCon does.
See you in Portland in 2013, LeakyCon. I’ll be there with my wand raised, hugs ready to be shared, and an open heart and mind.