Before I continue, I want to stress that this is a personal rant. Other cosplayers may/do not feel this way, nor do I believe that this is how other cosplayers should think/act.
I’ve mostly wandered around in Obscure Character Land the first few years of my cosplay life, but lately more popular characters have wooed me, and with that, I’ve noticed some things that make me reluctant to cosplay these characters solo. They have everything to do with the fact that someone, somewhere out there in the convention is cosplaying the other half of a pairing involving my character.
Cosplayers, I’m sure this has happened to you before. Someone who isn’t in cosplay comes up to you and sees you as their opportunity to see their pairing acted out in real life. They ask you where the other half is, they tell you they’ll find you one, they tell you what poses they want you to do. And no matter how much you try and divert the conversation in an effort to be polite, it circles back to the same thing.
The first time this happened to me to the point it made me incredibly uncomfortable, I changed out of cosplay and wore my street clothes for the rest of the night.
After that first time, I’ve flat out told people that I only do that sort of posing with cosplayers I’m comfortable with, with respect to their boundaries as well as mine.
I am not the character. I am someone portraying the character and I believe that while I’m in cosplay, I do represent and am responsible for the integrity of that character (I kind of carried that over from marching band uniforms. A little weird, I know.)
I’m also not particularly a fan of cosplayers deciding that they’re going to be my other half without knowing if I even ship it, if the cosplayer who I’m with has gone off to get a drink and is momentarily absent, or assuming that insinuating what my character does in his free time with their character by way of a greeting isn’t going to make me want to kill you. Seriously, just throw a vending machine at me if that’s the alternative.
If I’m looking for someone to be my character’s other half, I’ll:
1) See what the interest level is for a group cosplay among people I know
2) Tell my character to go cry in a corner and suck it up if #1 isn’t going to happen
3) On occasion, find someone at the convention. If we mutually default to canon, then I see that as a good sign that a conversation can happen later.
#2 Is the one that initially happens the most often and sometimes turns into #1 later. But if all of #3 happens, then I’m actually fairly open to pairing-themed poses as long as they make some vague sort of sense, stay PG-13 at most, and most importantly, respect the characters we’re cosplaying.