The LGBT community and LGBT YouTube content creators came together Friday July 29 at the Anaheim White House Restaurant for a meet and greet that did not include special passes or security, but one-on-one conversations between viewers and the vloggers. Originally the meet-up was supposed to be a part of a new VidCon meets Comic-Con LGBT event taking place from July 29-30.
Husbands Long Vo and Thai Pham came up with the idea of Pride Con after noticing the LGBT community was not well represented in the convention setting. “There’s always a panel for the LGBT community, but there was never really like a full on LGBT kind of thing for majority of those really big conventions,” Vo said. “So, we thought why not put our expertise [together]… and create something for the community.”
Unfortunately because of guest safety concerns, due to recent traumatic events like the Pulse Club shooting in Orlando, as well as financial reasons, Pham and Vo could not go forward with the event. The July 18 cancellation of Pride Con left many would-be attendees distraught. Not only were they upset about the event being cancelled a week before it was set to take place, but many people were flying in from out of state—even a few from out of the country—to attend Pride Con.
Hoping to salvage the situation, Matt Skallerud, president and founder of Pink Banana, an LGBT marketing company, was able to contact his colleague Bruno Serato, owner and chef of the Anaheim White House, to donate one of his dining rooms to the event. The Pride Con founders, Pink Banana and REVRY, an LGBT streaming service, were then able to continue hosting a meet and greet with any YouTubers and Pride Con attendees still willing to be a part of the event in some way.
“Even though [Vo and Pham] were demoralized for having everything cancelled last minute we still thought we can definitely make lemonade out of lemons,” Skallerud said. “We can have something good come out of this.”
And good did come. The meet and greets turn out was incredible. Everywhere you looked there were fans hanging around, talking to and taking pictures with their favorite YouTubers. As parents watched their children meet their favorite YouTube stars they couldn’t help but broadcast that proud parent gaze from seeing how relaxed and comfortable their kid looked as they approached the person who possibly helped them through their hard times of acceptance.
A few YouTubers expressed disappointment and frustration when they found out about Pride Con's cancellation. Their main concern was that they had let their viewers down, especially the viewers who were spending large amounts of money to travel to the event. But mostly people just seemed happy to be there. “I love how small this venue is,” said Chrissy Chambers, YouTube content creator of the channel BriaAndChrissy. “I like how small it is so that we can all hang out and it is more personal.”
The togetherness and enjoyment at the meet and greet did not go unnoticed by Serato. He took note of all of the smiling faces throughout the venue and the politeness he experienced from everyone he met. “Hate will never win,” Serato said. “Love always will.”
Even though Pride Con didn’t happen this year, guests don’t want the idea to disappear. The meet and greet only helped the attendees realize more that the event is needed for the community. “I hope that it’s something they pursue [Pride Con],” Chambers said. “We need something where the LGBT community can come together and celebrate.”