In the wee hours of March 30, the sun begins to lazily rise above the Providence skyline, bathing the world in a silvery glow. The alarm clock chirps impatiently, expectantly as it awaits a person to silence it.

It’s at this time, your friendly neighbourhood editor groggily rises from another five-hour slumber, craving the comforts that only the morning coffee can bring.

As sleep dashed away and I went through my final equipment checks, I couldn’t hide a little excitement. Sure, this was Anime Boston. I’ve done this fifteen times before, and I don’t have any plans of stopping.

But, at the same time, this was a new beginning for me. Last week, I came out as transgender, with the help of the good people at Anime Feminist. This was going to be my first time I could throw the mask aside and be, well, me at an event. No more hiding, no more deadnames. Just me, in my element, doing what I do the best.

I couldn’t hide that small, eager smile as I put on my makeup, and bunned my hair into a wig cap. At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling a bit of fear and trepidation… I mean, this would be my first time presenting female to the world. I wasn’t sure if things were going to work out, and a million doubts a minute seemed to be boiling beneath the excitement.

As I looked at myself in that candy-colored wig, though, I couldn’t help but feel a little better. It was cute, and it helped to hide my boyish looks a bit. And for the first time in ever, I felt cute. I relaxed a bit, comfortable knowing that this was the best way to say “hi” to the world after being kept hidden for so long.

As we made our way to the convention center, the fears slowly melted away. Anime Boston, despite being a convention that brings in tens of thousands every year, still feels like that familiar gathering of friends that began at the Park Plaza in 2003. The team, who come from across the country to make this event the best-ever each year, all share their passion in building an event that they can be proud of, and where everyone can feel welcome.

That warm, inviting atmosphere has never once faded (OK, we can argue about LineCon, but it’s poetic license), which can be seen in the faces of staff and attendees alike.

I’ve long said that Anime Boston is special. It’s a place where a fan can just let loose, and just enjoy a weekend without having to worry about those crazy pressures of the world.

And, really, that’s nothing short of incredible.