The gaming subculture isn’t always the most welcoming place to have a minority sexual orientation. From loose homophobic language Battlefield 3 to unexpected homophobic tirades from Blizzcon music acts to the extremely common use of homophobic slurs used as nonsense in online gaming competitions, many parts of the gaming community seem to be doing their best to alienate anyone who doesn’t conform to a heteronormative ideal.
That’s where GaymerCon comes in. The “first gaming and technology convention with a focus on LGBT geek culture” will take place in August in San Francisco, after reaching the modest Kickstarter goal of $25,000 earlier this week, just four days after launch. According to Kayce Brown, a member of the event’s large team of organizers, more than 2,000 people have already registered to attend the conference. The effort has received support from industry veterans including GLaDOS voice actress Ellen McLaine, Team Fortress 2 sniper voice actor John Patrick Lowrie and Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade.
While the lineup of events and performances at the conference has not yet been finalized, Brown said music and fashion will likely be a big part of the show, and that everything from the panels to the game demos available will “not just be gay.” undertone”. but gaming undertones.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean straight people aren’t welcome. “We hope everyone gets to this,” Brown said. “Our mission is ‘Everybody Games’. We don’t just focus on gay people. We hope to get a decent number of straight, bisexual and transgender people. It’s very important for us to feel that everyone has a place at this convention.” She added that she hopes women will be interested in the show because “even more than men, [they] get a lot of hate on gaming.”
At the same time, Brown said she hopes members of the LGBTQ gaming community will feel especially welcome at the conference. “It’s not like we’re calling ourselves out in a way where we’re stomping around and drumming and we need to be heard,” she said. “It’s more about creating a safe space for LGBTQ members to come, be exactly who they are, be gamers and meet other like-minded people… It’s not necessarily that we need a place of our own, because we want to separate ourselves and not be part of the mainstream, because we want people to be able to come and feel safe.”
Brown compared the value of a dedicated conference for the LGBTQ gaming sub-niche to the annual Dinah Shore weekend in Palm Springs, which attracts lesbians from around the world to meet and mingle. “There are a lot of people who live in Minnesota, in Idaho, in all these different places, who in their day-to-day life can’t live the way they want to live and do the things that they want to do and that they feel like doing.” they can be themselves,” she said. “Something like this, in a place like San Francisco, is very LGBT tolerant, creates a space where people can come and it’s their vacation. I don’t want to call it their sanctuary, but it’s a place where you can just be yourself.
Ignoring the recoil
Despite overwhelming support from Kickstarter backers, registrants, volunteers and the press, Brown said the GaymerCon organizers have faced a high volume of hate mail and harassing comments across the Internet. The level of vitriol among some in the gaming community is somewhat shocking, she said, as gamers themselves often know the pain of being part of an often marginalized group.
“It could go back to the bullying,” Brown theorized. “With any kind of bullying, whether it’s on the playground or at home, they retreat into gaming. It kind of becomes their world. When I think about it and what the bigger problem is and where this comes from, I feel me like they’ve met some kind of hate in their lives and they just project that back.
But despite the haters, Brown said she and her fellow organizers are inspired to keep going, thanks to stories like that of a young lesbian who used an LGBT gaming group to help herself out of suicidal depression. The desire to inform and educate people about the size and scope of the gay gambling population is also a driving force inspiring organizers to ignore the pushback, Brown said.
“We’re there for a reason,” she recalled telling her co-organizers when they grew angry at the level of opposition to their efforts. “If we want to be considered mainstream and if we want to be a part of this, we can’t separate ourselves like we already have. If we’re in the mainstream, we’re always going to have haters. There’s always going to be hate mail, there’s there will be protesters outside our convention, there will be people pecking at us, throwing things at us, saying things at us, and my answer to that is ‘fuck ’em.'”
“It’s going to be a hot topic for a while. It’s going to get hotter because there’s an awareness that we’ve built around it that people may have paid attention to before, but you have to start somewhere to get something better,” she continued. “All we can do is keep going and hope it gets better.”
“It’s not that long ago that our parents not only read about the end of segregation, but actually lived through it, and that’s a non-issue now. So at some point, I’d like to think that it won’t are.” are no longer a problem in the gaming community.”