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MANILA, Philippines – Komiket finds itself in hot water as their event, Komiket Pride, draws closer. On Wednesday, June 7, Komiket posted a series of now-deleted tweets regarding the inclusion of cisgender-heterosexual exhibitors in Komiket Pride.
Komiket’s official Twitter account wrote: “We may not be as big or as successful as the bigger cons but you can certainly judge us based on our track record of the good work we do for komiks creators and the Komiket community over the years. We are a nonprofit organization that aims to help nurture the komiks community.”
Their succeeding tweet read, “So even if you’re there for the stickers, prints, postcards, or crafts, please be more tolerant and accepting of our non-LGBT komiks creators. They are also an underserved, marginalized, and exploited creative sector.”
Netizens were quick to respond, with many pointing out that Komiket Pride, advertised as a comics and art convention for the LGBTQ+ community, was ironically not making enough space for them.
One tweeted, “‘Welcome to Komiket Pride 2023! Now 90% queer!’ Don’t you realize how hilarious that sounds?”
Another said, “It’s so stupid to decide not to fill Komiket PRIDE with only LGBTQ+ artists just because you want to prioritize comic artists. Like you literally have seven other events slated this year for said artists? Couldn’t we have claimed this one-time annual event for ourselves?”
“Imagine being queer and not making it on the shortlist in tabling at a con ADVERTISED for queer artists only to find out you were disregarded to let non-queers table at said event, in the name of ‘inclusivity,’ during Pride month of all months,” wrote artist louquorice.
Dr. Thomas Baudinette, a senior lecturer in Macquarie University, also pointed out that Komiket failed to “acknowledge that the discrimination and marginalization of LGBTQ+ creators is compounded, whereas straight creators still have access to the privilege of straightness.”
Following the backlash, Komiket co-founder and president Paolo Herras posted an apology on Thursday, June 8, explaining that he had not consulted with the Komiket team before publishing the controversial tweet.
“I should have consulted with my team before we put up the message. I was feeling the pressure and made a mistake, some steps were skipped, and for that I’m sorry,” he wrote. “But through my own oversight, I didn’t realize the impact on the community and those who didn’t get a chance this year. I understand I have hurt all your feelings, and for that I am truly sorry.”
Later on, the official Komiket account also tweeted a brief apology, saying that they “deleted the post and [apologized] again,” and asking for continued support for the Komiket Pride exhibitors.
Amid the backlash, netizens also urged others to attend Komiket Pride in support of the LGBTQ+ exhibitors.
“Please please still support the LGBTQIA+ artists [in] Komiket Pride,” artist jhorliearts wrote. “Don’t let Komiket’s statements stop you from supporting the artists. They poured their time, effort, and money [into producing] queer merch.”
Komiket is a comics art market that first launched in April 2015, and has since held events around Metro Manila, Cavite, and Cebu annually.
The Komiket Pride art market will be held from June 16 to June 18, at Ayala Malls the 30th in Pasig City. – Rappler.com