Las Vegas convention brings light to LGBTQ representation

Las Vegas is known for its conventions, bringing people from around the world. One convention, only in its second year in the city, had attendees from 49 states and 45 countries this past weekend.

ClexaCon, which claims to be the first and largest multi-fandom event for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer women and allies, welcomed thousands of fans to the Tropicana hotel-casino April 5-9. 

ClexaCon was named in honor of two LGBTQ characters from the TV show, "The 100," after the death of one of the characters spurred a movement for better media representation. But the convention also focuses on other shows, including "Lost Girl," "Wynonna Earp," "Supergirl" and "Person of Interest."

ClexaCon encourages people to create their own content in an effort to get more LGBTQ people involved in entertainment. 

"I think everyone realizes yes, you can come meet your celebrities but you can get involved in the industry and learn how to create your own content," said co-founder Holly Winebarger.

During its first year, ClexaCon already had fans coming from 41 countries to Las Vegas. The founders had no idea the convention would take off so quickly. But they said it shows there was a need for this type of convention.

"Some places in parts of the world where it can be illegal to watch content or it's just frowned upon or they don't have a community. So I think it's worth it for people to come all the way here to be around this," Winebarger said. "So I think that's another aspect of it. It's really sweet. I met an 88-year-old lady yesterday. She's here with her 17-year-old granddaughter. They're from Mississippi. Mississippi doesn't have anything like this." 

ClexaCon is open to all ages, making it an appealing convention for those who want events not centered around bar nights. 

Fans also had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas, many for the first time, and experience the Strip and Fremont Street while also enjoying the convention. 

Ella Goss visited for the first time from England. She said it was a little daunting at first, especially coming through customs discussing a convention that is not well known outside its built community. 

"It's not very well known here," said Vicki Clarke, who is also from England. "When I came in my taxi from the airport and I said I was here for a convention, he thought I was here for work." 

ClexaCon also means something to the LGBTQ community in Las Vegas. After the first convention last year, founders Ashley Arnold and Danielle Jablonski moved to Las Vegas. While they note the local attendance is small, they hope it grows in the coming years. 

"We want people to know that we're here and we want them to come," Arnold said. "Even if it's just to volunteer, hang out, whatever. We want locals to be involved." 

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