For What It’s Worth

For the last couple of days, I’ve struggled with how to write this post.  I struggled emotionally because of the heartfelt feelings, and confusedly, because I suck at writing.

So here’s the deal. In regards to the false allegations last year, and AnimeNEXT not being forthcoming to help me with this situation, I am banned from the convention.  In return of not getting any help to resolve this, I have pulled, or in the process of pulling all of my AnimeNEXT (and possibly MangaNEXT) footage from all of my social media sites.

So, lemme tell you how all this happened. And this is to the best of my ability of remembering…

Last year. Friday. There I am, walking around, asking cosplayers if I could take their photo. Meeting up with friends. Making new ones. Then things changed.

I saw this Jessica Rabbit cosplayer. I Asked if I could take her picture. She said, “No thank you, I don’t want my picture taken.” I said, “Okay, no problem”, and moved along. Fifteen minutes later, I saw her on the first floor, but I was taking someone else’s picture. Later that night, I went to get an 18+ wristband for a panel. I had only sat down for 10 minutes until I was asked to leave and speak to someone. I thought something had happened and they needed me to help.

No.

There was three people. George, head of security, Vince, co-chair, and a third person. I was asked if they could see my photos. I asked what this was all about. That Jessica Rabbit cosplayer in question, got four of her friends to say that I was harassing her because I couldn’t take her photo. Now I had explained that wasn’t the case. I said that she was there with one person when I asked for her picture. She said again and I quote, “No thank you, I don’t want my picture taken.” I was also there with 2 – 3 people when I asked her. Because of AnimeNEXT’s Zero Tolerance Policy on cosplay is not consent, my press badge was revoked. There I am, visibly upset over a false allegation, trying to prove my innocence. After talking to everyone, it was decided that if I can procure my witness, the decision could be reversed.

Now, this cosplayer and her four friends gave the same identical story of me harassing her. Me, I had to sit there, try to remember who all I was with because of how bad my memory is. Thankfully Anthony was there to give his side. My other friend RD (RavensDolphin) didn’t because I did not have a way to contact him… And I wasn’t thinking straight to find him on Social Media. So, I went back to my hotel and passed out.

The next day is where things get out of hand.

George said that he’d get back to me by 11 with an answer. I had already told people what happened, and a few friends went to give character testimonials about me.  By 12, no answer. So I walked into the convention center, went to the Security Office to find an answer, and leave. But it got more complex. The assistant security head said, “How did you get in here?” I told him that I walked right in. I also said that I just wanted to know what the status was and leave, nothing else more. The assistant head refused to tell me anything and demanded that I leave. I explained that I needed to know what was going on so that I could do my convention coverage and then I’ll leave. One of the guys in the back mocked that if I needed a press badge, I don’t know how to do coverage. The assistant head said that I can be outside and take pictures.

So I left (after being escorted out like it’s the walk of shame), went back to my room, grabbed my camera, and took photos. But that didn’t take long. ACCC Security and George arrived, telling me that I do not belong here. I said that I was outside and I was told by George’s assistant that I could be out here. Security said that being outside, in front of the convention center is still the property of the ACCC. So I said that was okay, and I asked George if he had an update. He refused to answer. I asked if I could get copies of the report, because I planned to seek legal action of slander and libel. He said I had no right to it. I got upset. I asked him if he was going to tell me anything today. He said no. I asked him, if he was going to wait until the last day, and he said yes. I asked him if it turned out that I was innocent, was he going to wait until Sunday to tell me. He said yes.

Well that’s a little vindictive, ain’t it?

I admit, I got upset. I said that I wasn’t leaving, I wanted copies of that report, and yes, go ahead and call the police, I want to tell my side of it.  The ACCC Security Guard pulled me aside, saw how angry I was. He asked me to head over to the hotel, and he’d call the police on my behalf.  So I did just that.  I ended up walking over to the local precinct after waiting 30 minutes.  Upon getting there, the officer said that since the ACCC is private property, there wasn’t anything he could do. He did say that the precinct had gotten numerous calls in regards to issues there.

So I chalked it up as a loss and let it be. Figured that the testimonials as well as friends, and a couple of staffers who know me giving them character statements about me would help.

In September, I had emailed the con chair, explaining pretty much what all you see here.  I even reached out to the con chair Vince in regards to this over Twitter. He said that he in an email backlog and he’d get back to me.

Skip ahead to June 2, 2018.  By this time, I had already been confirmed for press. I hadn’t heard back. I thought everything was kosher… But it wasn’t. That morning, I had gotten an e-mail from Vince stating that I was banned from the ACCC, and my press credentials revoked. It would not be reinstated until the ACCC allowed me back in.  So I called on Monday and spoke to the head of security. I’m not banned from the convention center, but the con itself. So I e-mailed Vince back, along with CC’ing the head of security for an explanation. Vince replied back with, “I’ll speak to my team and get back you.”

And here we are.

I haven’t heard back, so I chalked it up as a loss. This week I’ll contact him again find out what’s going on. You don’t handle a situation like this so poorly.  I’d like to know what my status is in regards to this convention. I have nearly 20 years of amazing stories and memory of this convention. I met the dub voice of Ranma and Akane here. I won best in show with a group of amazingly talented friends. If I wasn’t running a press site, I would have chalked this up as a loss and moved on. If I knew I was 100% guilty of harassing a cosplayer over a photo, I wouldn’t have even wrote this.  I would have written a deep apologetic post instead.

I have told some people about this when it happened. I got flak for it because a few people thought I was going to sue the con over discrimination. They felt that I shouldn’t go after their favorite con. Yeah, sure. But let’s be real about this… A white cosplayer and 4 of her white friends accuse me of harassing her. A light skinned Hispanic guy in charge of Security kicks me out.  Other AnimeNEXT and Otakon staffers have suggested that this may have been racially motivated. Truthfully, I just want answers. I want a reply from Vince, knowing my status. If he says I’m banned for a year, fine, cool, I’ll hit up another con (A-Kon 2019 anyone?).

One thing… I think I saw that cosplayer at Otakon too. It might not have been her, but it was a Jessica Rabbit cosplayer. I was with my friend Julia, and I pointed it out. She saw that I was getting a bit fidgety and antsy. She grabbed my wrist and walked me further away. You see, Julia is one of the few people that knows the entire story, who also went to bat for me. Something I am very appreciative of.

I never thought I’d find myself writing this. I thought this would go away. Upon announcing my post explaining this, one friend of mine said that I may have been mistaken for Eugene Manning, a known cosplay photographer who harasses female cosplayers. It’s not too far from the truth, I have been mistaken for him previously… TWICE.

Truthfully, I don’t want any legal actions in this. I just want to talk and discuss this with the right people for an answer, whether I like the answer or not. It interesting tho… Last year when this all went down, everyone was telling me to contact Vince, and I’m like, “Uhh… Yeah… Lemme let this settle down first.” I want to return to AnimeNEXT and do my coverage. I know I can send my staff, but honestly they don’t want to go back to the con, unless I am there too. I think that’s pretty amazing of them to say. But for now, I’ll continue to remove all AnimeNEXT content from my sites and keep it down until I get a definitive answer out of all this.

This post took me three days to write.  I got quite emotional when writing this, and I needed time to step back and refocus on life. I didn’t need my emotions to get the best of me. I didn’t want this to become a slander post against the con. I know that some of you who are reading this are laughing and saying I got what was coming to me. If that’s how you feel, then fine, laugh at my own expense. I know I have people out there who hate me. When this happened, I saw some people take pot shots at me, but it’s okay, that’s how it goes. And for those of you on my side, cheering me on, thanks. I legit need it.

Welp, it’s time to send that follow up email, let’s see how it goes.

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