There were two kinds of BBYO attendees. These are open letters to both of them.
Because it seems like people are only addressing the brats I decided to write two letters. The first is to the well behaved, sweet BBYO attendees, WHICH EXISTED GUYS PLEASE DON’T FORGET THAT?
Awesome BBYO attendees,
Thanks so much for being cool. I realize that cosplaying (which is what it’s called when you dress up as a character) is sort a weird hobby. I realize that we’re all sort of weird. But these conventions? Are the only place that a lot of us get to feel at home. Personally, I poured hours upon hours of work into my costumes for this convention and flew from Florida. And for those of you who appreciated that time and work, thank you.
I’m no stranger to convention centers double booking an anime/comic convention next to one that doesn’t exactly mesh. I’m from Florida and down here we have Megacon which for the past 5 years has been consistently booked next to cheerleading conventions, gymnastics conventions, volleyball conventions and Mary Kay conferences. Some of my best times are when I get recognized by someone not at the con, or when people not at the con ask for my picture or a picture with me. People who are able to have an understanding for those who are different and who enjoy different things, and who can accept that, are fantastic. If you are one of them, believe me, you will go very far in a happy life.
Your curiosity and kindness is wonderful, and please keep that. For those of you who would politely ask for pictures with cosplayers, thank you. For those of you who complimented cosplayers, thank you. For those of you who even bought a one day badge to wander around and see things, thank you. I apologize that you are being lumped into groups with those of your convention who lacked the maturity and open-mindedness that you had. I hope you came out of your convention with some fun stories to tell your friends back home.
Now, for the people that everyone is complaining about. If you were one of those immature kids who made fun of cosplayers, laughed at them, THREW THINGS AT THEM, or were just generally rude, this is for you.
Bad BBYO attendees,
You’re a bunch of fucking shitdicks. I’m not even going to sugar coat that. Through the weekend I was laughed at, I was mocked, I had food thrown at me and the cosplays I worked weeks on, I was bumped into on purpose, I was glared at, and I had more people be rude to me from your con than Ive ever had be rude to me anywhere. And I work in costumer service.
But know this, these people you’re making fun of have jobs and probably make more than you do. While you’re off flying to DC on your parent’s dime, cosplayers are working their ass off to make the money it takes to sustain their hobby and their lives all at once. These people have skills far beyond what you could ever hope to have (seriously, let’s see you make some battle armor, buddy) and not only that, but they have the finances to back it up. Their hobby may be weird but they’re sure as hell more mature than you are.
Let’s put it this way, we had a convention of 12,000 people in freaky ass costumes. You had a convention of a thousand, maybe more, in normal clothes. Yet YOUR convention is the one not getting allowed back to that resort even if you tried.
If you at any point this weekend laughed at a convention attendee, threw things at a convention attendee, or were generally rude for no reason other than we were at a weird con, congratulations, you are the living embodiment of cancer that brought down the rest of your otherwise fine convention. I hope you are satisfied with the fact that the Gaylord now thinks everyone at your convention is a babbling child who can do nothing but be rude and ruin their hotel, and I hope you’re proud of the fact that you represented your community so poorly that you will be told as a horror story for years to come and everyone at that hotel and convention will have large negative associations with BBYO forever.
I hope you’re proud of yourselves and how you represented your community,
Goddamnit, BBYO and Katsucon!
Now, I wanna make this clear: I WAS NOT AT KATSUCON THIS WEEKEND. I live in England (for now anyway, for uni), and this con took place in….Maryland.
That being said, some shit went down there that was not ok at all. Apparently, the venue was WAY overbooked, and there was a Jewish Youth Group in attendance alongside all the Katsu-con-goers….with mixed results.
Some of the crossover interactions were totally chill and awesome. Sadly, a portion of them weren’t. There are stories abound of harassment, including sexual harassment and verbal harassment, teasing, mocking, ridiculing, and hotel damages….on the part of the BBYO, the Jewish youth group in attendance.
This is an incredible Hillul Hashem.
And it creates a negative situation that puts Jews in danger.
A number of my friends went to that con this weekend, and I have seen numerous threads pop up on their facebooks and web pages, as well as in the wider world wide web. I can’t count the number of anti-Semitic comments I’ve seen. How many variants I’ve read of “Hitler should have finished the job.” Fuck, even Jewish con-goers got shit for being Jewish over the weekend, because of this bulllshit!
Just…Fucking REALLY?! Since when is it ok to judge a 4000 year old culture, ethnic group, and religion on the actions of a few spoiled teenage brats at a weekend at a hotel?!
I am NOT trying to minimize the actions of those who did wrong. I think it was good the group was banned from the venue, I think the organizations in charge need to STEP THE FUCK UP, I think if you have the names of the kids who pulled this shit, you should put that shit on blast, because FUCK THAT NOISE.
What I am NOT ok with is okay-ing the genocide of an entire people because of their heinous actions. Do you even realize how fucking traumatizing that is?! This is a genocide in living memory. I LOST FAMILY TO HITLER’S DEATH MACHINES. (And I’m hardly fucking unique in that…fuck, our entire ethnic group was affected, DUH!!)
What I am not ok with is Jewish fans and cosplayers being made to feel unsafe at future events, including future Katsucons. (Should I feel unsafe at future cons now, too? Really?)
Shitty behavior on the part of a group of teenagers does not justify the promotion of genocide for an entire ethno-religious group.
This shouldn’t even need saying.
Some comments regarding Katsucon and BBYO
I’m on a bus to go back up there, this is a bit of a rant post, so I apologize if it’s long-winded.
— Introduction —
Hi! My name is Sefam. I think before I start off this post, an introduction is in order. I’m a Canadian from Montreal who started going to cons in the US last year. I have done Anime Boston 2012, Otakon 2012, Nekocon 2012, AUSA 2012, Magfest 2013, and now Katsucon 2013. I decided to go to Katsucon after hearing good things about it from friends, and after experiencing the Gaylord experience at Magfest.
Due to the high cost of plane tickets (Would cost me 500-700$ to get a roundtrip ticket to Washington DC), I usually go down on a greyhound bus, it took me about 13 hours on an overnight bus to get from the Montreal Bus Station to Union Station in DC. Costs me 150$ if I take the round trip a while in advance. The badge cost me 60$ since I pre-registered, and the hotel cost me 120$ for the weekend as the room was shared by multiple people. It costs me 26 hours of traveling on a bus and 330$ to get to attend the convention, without counting miscellaneous items such as food.
Although the travel is arduous, it’s usually well worth my time. This time around however, quite a few issues popped up, making my personal con experience a bitter disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun time for the most part, but these issues undermined the rest of the con.
— Problems with the Gaylord —
I arrived at the Gaylord at about 4PM on Thursday. The group I resided with had reserved a suite almost a year ago. Our reservation supposedly disappeared from the system after the Marriot bought out the hotel. The same thing happened to this exact same group at Magfest, although it was dealt with quickly. This time around, it took the entirety of the evening to fix the problem, the hotel kept claiming we had no reservation, and that they overbooked the suites to the BBYO conference. We finally ended up with a suite and had to move all our stuff during the late evening. That was very irritating.
Also, some attendees I talked to instantly assumed the dress code amended on wednesday, and the rules concerning excessive noise and not bringing in outside alcohol were due to BBYO “because they are jews” (I’ll get on this one later). Already, things were not starting on a right foot. And started to annoy people.
— BBYO Conference Conflicts —
For those of you who do not know, we were sharing the convention center with a jewish youth conference (BBYO). For the most part, the youth conference attendees and most of their staff were awesome, and discussing with them was a great source of enlightenment. It was interesting to see and introduce a new community to a hobby that takes up a great portion of our time.
I don’t know when all of this went wrong though, tensions started to rise as soon as people knew the gazebo and direct access to the parking lot was blocked at some point on Thursday by what I assumed were hotel staff, but were actually rent-a-cops hired by BBYO. Katsucon investigated the matter quickly (I very much appreciated that intervention) to realize that both of these spaces were actually rented by BBYO, and then proceeded to announce it on the con website.
Certain people, including one of Katsucon’s guests, Yaya Han, were very unhappy and expressed their concerns at the situation; the iconic Katsucon gazebo being forbidden to all the people wanting to do photoshoots. From what I understand, all the complaining didn’t fix the problem and only made the tension worst. On top of the gazebo being closed, all of the attendees that had cars in the Gaylord parking lot were not able to get to their car directly anymore.
Later on, BBYO attempted to enforce segregation in certain parts of the convention, shoving the Katsucon attendees to one side of a hallway while their people moved on the other. What certainly didn’t help is that some BBYO staffers also rudely harassed cosplayers who had the misfortune to have BBYO attendees talk to them, being told to stop “impressing their kids”. One of the youth conference staffers was really rude to me because I was pointing my camera around, requesting that I instantly stop “filming their children”. I do not understand what caused the youth conference from being okay to being so protective of their attendees. (Again, I’ll talk more about this later)
Some people got fed up with this attitude really fast, this resulted in fist fights happening (Two against BBYO staff, if I recall well). BBYO probably realized at this point that sacrificing part of the gazebo to douse the flames was the best thing to do. Sure, we “got the gazebo” back, but at what price? This problem was not fixed until somebody got hurt.
I said I would come back to something earlier. I’ve talked to some of BBYO’s staffers, quite a few of their attendees, some of them even attended Katsucon in secret, leaving their BBYO badge and donning a Katsu badge after sundown as to not be spited by their conference peers/elders. Most of these people were super cool, they talked to us about how cool this event is, and how they think doing this too would help them really express themselves. Yet we had people going around venting their frustration on them (And sometimes preemptively assumed things about them because of their religion), rather than on the poor administrative and communication skills of a few leaders on their side (If they understood right off the bat that the gazebo was very important to the people here, and that they go there once a year to take photos of their costume, maybe all this wouldn’t have happened), there was people walking around, throwing pennies at the BBYO attendees, singing sensitive songs/doing things that they knew were sensitive for people of jewish religion, yelling slurs at the conference populace.
Sadly, some people who did absolutely nothing got caught in this escalating crossfire. I’m really unhappy about how this all turned out, and the only way we got to be heard as a group was through violence, and people on both sides got hurt because of inconsiderate individuals on both sides. In the end, I do believe all we’ve managed to hurt was ourselves, as a whole; the entire population of the Gaylord National this weekend.
— Conclusion —
When I was in high school, a holocaust survivor visited us, and told us of his story. His name is Martin Gray, he still lives to this day. He is probably the wisest human beings I have met in my life. Yet, even though he had beliefs not everyone agreed with, he was still a person, just like all of us here, even though anime is a big part of our lives, even though we are sometimes ridiculed for it, we are people too, just like BBYO’s members are. Being sort of stuck between two chairs, and reflecting on intelligent posts like this one( http://drunkaya.tumblr.com/post/43212159523 ). I’m rather disappointed by this situation, and having to travel so far and having view a spectacle like this sort of saddened me, it quite undermined my convention experience, on top of the issues with the hotel itself.
Just as a shoutout, for all the BBYO people who had the courage to talk to or even participate in Katsucon with us, you’re always welcome, and there is always a place for you, regardless of your beliefs; we are here for you. The same goes for all the Katsucon attendees who opened themselves up, regardless of the conflict that was going on, and shared their experiences with people from a different group. Thanks to all of you.
I hope that we do all learn a lesson from this, and that next time a situation like this occurs, we all fare because of what happened this weekend. I really do hope that this does not happen again next year.
I have never seen or heard so much hatred and rudeness toward such a diverse group of people in my life. That’s just putting things simply.
So to explain… a Jewish youth convention (BBYO) was going on at the same time this year. 1st day wasn’t bad overall, with the exception to the Katsucon staff not knowing anything about what they actually rented from the hotel until everyone was already there from all over the country so they had to make last minute announcements of not only a dress code (people make cosplays MONTHS..if not years.. in advance), but also that a very popular photo area would not be accessible due to it being rented to the other convention as well. So blame 1 goes to Katsucon. Overall the kids were not bad for the most part and just simply took pics with cosplayers and interacted with them inside and outside and even in their convention hallways as well but when the night rolled around things started to take a turn for the worse.
The youth convention started to enforce the idea of “this is our space so you can’t pass”. This isn’t so bad until you realize that they are blocking elevator and emergency exit access and this is our secondary issue with everything else going on because we’re now forced to use elevators that are quite a long distance away from our room. This doesn’t sound so bad if you’re in comfortable clothes and shoes, but when you’re cosplaying, you’re quite the opposite a lot of the time. So after having to wait for the 7 elevators(on our side of the hotel) to transport close to 10k people up and down over 20 floors (which was normally in the ballpark of a 10 minute wait at times), you can see how this was a huge issue for our group overall. But our PRIMARY ISSUE is how the adults of the Youth convention were acting and treating the other con goers. In our group alone, one of us was grabbed by the arm in a forceful manner after getting out of the elevator and giving a fist bump to kid that wanted one because we “were antagonizing the kids” and then escorted to the general area. I was even yelled and grabbed at by an adult in their group after being allowed to pass (only allowed at this point if we were going to the exit, and not the con) with the last bits of our stuff. My reply to them was “I’m going home!” as I kept walking towards the exit.
So here I am, at home, over 12 hours before I planned to, because of all the stress and drama that was inflicted upon my room mates and I because of people being hyper critical and just plain old rude to some pretty outgoing congoers (pics to come!). Some of these congoers i saw (I’m guessing) are already made fun of in their normal lives for their believes and interests in their favorite shows/books/animes/etc. so paying money to go to a place where you can openly be yourself and interact with others to only face a lot of the same bullying behavior some have to deal with at home is just wrong. Especially when i’m hearing rumblings of bans being implemented to people for calling congoers “heathens” for their cosplays and their cosplays and clothes being ripped off in protest.
Just because someone doesn’t believe what you do, doesn’t mean you’re better then them and can act like a total idiot in an attempt to prove your point. I understand defending your views but belittling someone in an attempt to do so is the opposite of what you should do. Always take the higher road people! Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself knowing that you did the right thing versus bringing yourself and others down with you.
Katsucon vs BBYO
So I have received a message from an anon asking if i had caused the brawl that almost broke out the day i was shoved by BBYO members into a wall.
I’ve decided to share my side of the story on tumblr
First off NO i did not
If anything i tried to avoid it
I hate arguing and i hate anything negative I refuse to have people ruin my day and im one of those people that will always stay positive no matter what I’m also totally against violence. Putting your hands on others to harm them is disgusting.
While i was walking past the bbyo convention with my friend Emily (cosplaying rikku )this guy came up to us and asked if he could ask her something of course her being super bubbly and kind said of course so he asked his question that was completely unnecessary he asked if she was cosplaying a whore. I got a bit heated and said wtf out loud while my other friends just stood there shocked thats when i pushed my friends forcing them to walk away.
we ended up encountering him AGAIN
this time he was walking towards us down a hall with 3 of his friends
i just looked at emily that i happened to be holding hands with and just smiled at her
we planned to just walk pass by them and ignore them of course
but they had a different plan
when he passed emily and I he shoved us into the wall
I reacted fast and had my left hand on her hips and my right around her shoulder so she wouldn’t hit the wall and get hurt which led with me having a fucked up wrist
I got so mad i followed them but then realized it was stupid and getting upset would only give them what they want
I honestly wanted to ignore all of this
its so stupid
But obviously its bothering me a bit too much
I’m not the type to get pushed around especially by stupid ignorant little kids that don’t know how to act properly I’m not saying they all were just the 4idiots that harrassed us
People need to know that the girl that was sexually assaulted wasn’t the only that got hurt and bullied
I also got hurt and maybe idk some other cosplayers did too but just wont speak up about it
Their staff restricted Katsucon attendees from “Their” territory but did a horrid job keeping their kids from straying and leaving their convention
And i feel so terrible for my friend cause she only wore her cosplay for 20min and went back to her hotel to remove it because she was just so upset and torn up about the whole thing
I’ve already contacted BBYO via email
and so has my friend that witnessed everything that happened
Im hoping BBYO can own up to what happened and apologize publicly to Katsucon attenders