Free2Luv® Presented the BE YOU PRIDE LOUNGE at Emerald City Comic Con!
A safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to chill, hang, create, and play!
We’re super excited to have partnered with Emerald City Comic Con to create their first ever Pride Lounge; an LGBTQ+ safe/mental wellness space at ECCC.
The power of fandom is known to help youth create a found family and share what they are passionate about with each other, and Emerald City Comic Con offers a space for them to express themselves. Conventions can also be overwhelming and often don’t have queer representation so the partnership between Free2Luv and ECCC was a perfect match.
Through the ‘Be You’ Pride Lounge, we were proud to offer a space that celebrates the LGBTQ’s youth identity and provides a mental health space to recharge and feel seen and heard. It was a place where fandom met an LGBTQ+ art mental health space.
The ‘Be You’ Pride Lounge was a hit, both well received and well attended. Attendees came back repeatedly with new friends to share the experience, and thanked us for creating the space. It was amazing to see young people being free to be themselves without judgment.
We created a welcoming space to decompress and recharge. Teens spent hours chillin’, connecting, sharing, and even napping. Some even cuddled in public for the first time. We instantly built a community where teens would come back and introduce us to their friends they brought into the space. It was like a big group of friends hanging out.
We created art spaces throughout the lounge – with several interactive community art murals and individual art stations. Attendees loved creating! Many spent hours drawing and expressing themselves on multiple days sharing their own OG art as well as creating in our EXPRESS IT! books. The art space provided a great community environment with tons of meaningful conversations, a place to de-stress and get creative. Art and conversation are a powerful combination! It was awesome to witness new friendships being made and participants welcoming people into the lounge and inviting them to create with them.
We created a fun photo op space with positive messaging for attendees to get social with! Attendees also took a stand against LGBTQ+ bullying by joining our #MillionSignMission, taking a pic with our rainbow FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS BULLY sign, and posting it on social to show their support.
We set up board games, card games, and consoles where attendees challenged their friends and met some new ones.
“Comic Con is such an exciting event with a ton of really cool experiences. With so much going on, our goal with the BE YOU Pride Lounge was to build a community/safe space where you can meet friends, chill out, and express yourself creatively. We’re stoked that ECCC has invited us to create this space, and look forward to connecting with you all again next year,” says Free2Luv Founder, Tonya Sandis.
BE YOU PRIDE LOUNGE Presented by Free2Luv:
We’re an award-winning national nonprofit that’s all about utilizing the arts and conversation to empower and support youth struggling with identity, mental health, self-harm, and bullying. We’re addressing the mental health crisis by successfully providing safe spaces and tools for youth to thrive, express themselves creatively, become more confident and compassionate, and turn their pain into power and purpose. We provide all of our programming to under-represented and under-resourced youth free of charge.