Humanists at Dragon Con: Reason, Compassion, and Cosplay

The Flying Spaghetti Monster throwing Ramen to his devoted Pastafarians.

People dressed as the entire cast of characters from Captain America posing in the middle of the hallway for a photo-op.

A father and his two kids dressed as the family from The Incredibles.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader engaged in a light saber duel.

Someone dressed up as the character Jafar from Aladdin stopping at my American Humanist Association table to talk about the importance of humanism.

You may be wondering where this all took place. Well, I experienced all of this over Labor Day weekend at a magical place called Dragon Con.

In its twenty-eighth year, Dragon Con is a huge (over 60,000 attendees!) four-day convention held annually in Atlanta that focuses on science fiction, gaming, comics, literature, art, costuming, and fantasy literature. Incidentally, the convention grew out of a sci-fi and gaming group called the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players, the “Dragon” referring to the name of the Dragon Computer that served as a central hub for the group and meeting.

dragoncon_cosplayDragon Con’s cosplayers (a term for those who dress up in costume and play characters) come from all over the country to attend lively and engaging seminars, panels, workshops, parades, and costume contests. Dragon Con even has a “skeptic track” for individuals interested in attending panels about secularism, freethought, and science.

Figuring that Dragon Con would be filled with both likeminded individuals and those open to learning about humanism, I wanted the American Humanist Association to have a table at the convention and volunteered to run it.

My Dragon Con experience was better than I could have ever imagined. The responses to the humanist philosophy and various AHA activities and programs ranged from people who were happy to see humanism represented at Dragon Con to others who had never heard of humanism but realized that it resonated with their values. Here are just a few sentiments shared by people who visited the AHA table:

  • I am so happy to see that you are here!
  • It excites me to know that there is a national organization that supports my philosophical beliefs.
  • Thank you for all the hard work that the American Humanist Association does.
  • Can you help me find a local humanist group in my area?
  • What exactly is humanism? I am here to learn.
  • I am looking for a secular, humanist celebrant to officiate my upcoming wedding. Can you help me find one?
  • Can I take fifteen of the “I Believe in Good” stickers? I know my friends who aren’t here would love them!

dragoncon_jaffarNot only did people appreciate the humanist presence at Dragon Con, but they enjoyed all the humanist literature. I started with hundreds of buttons, stickers, pens, and copies of both the Humanist magazine and Free Mind newsletter—and I returned to the office emptyhanded.

The “Keep Church and State Separate” buttons were especially popular at Dragon Con, and it was rewarding to see them, along with “GOOD WITHOUT A GOD” pins, on people’s shirts, backpacks, costumes, and bags.

Dragon Con attendees were also big fans of the Paths to Humanism brochures. This series of brochures highlights the similarities between traditional religions and humanism in terms of common principles and values. I got the impression that people appreciated the Paths to Humanism series because it allowed them to realize that they don’t have to relinquish their previous religious identity in order to be a humanist.

In all, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to table on behalf of AHA at Dragon Con. What other “out of the movement” conferences or meetings should AHA table at next? Leave your suggestions below.

Tags: ,