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Posted on Saturday, August 3 2013 @ 05:22:42 Eastern
The eve of GaymerX is upon us, and I'm getting a little excited. I do like going to conventions, and this one should be an amusing doozy I haven't experienced before. It's been some time since I went to a smaller-scale convention (the last I remember being Classic Gaming Expo in 2010) and I've gotten used to the neon-drenched phenomenon that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo which, in my experience, spoils some of the fun of smaller conventions. Even so, I prefer a more intimate setting for the video game fandom; the feeling that you can strike up a conversation with another human being because you have something directly in common.
That's the perk of GaymerX to me. There's a freedom in such a setting, especially one in an LGBTQ-themed venue… I don't have to subconsciously avert my gaze should I find myself looking over another human being of my gender and they sudden turn my direction. Sure, it's creepy to still stare after that, but at least I know the possibility that I'll be beat up is much, MUCH smaller. One of the biggest perks, I might say.Do I want more people to feel comfortable being who they are? You're damn right I do. The acceptance of such a convention might help someone know that they're not alone, and that other people can have a fun time with each other without ridicule or fear of reprisal.
But for everyone that thinks it's a super-swell idea to have a queer-themed convention, there's a chorus of other voices calling out. "Why not just meet up at another con if you want to be gay together?" "Why do you NEED a convention just for gay people? Isn't that exclusionary?" "Why are you looking at my butt, do you think I'm a gay homo?"
Conventions like GaymerX, or FurCon, or any other niche fandom isn't exactly "exclusionary" (I'm including FurCon because, even though I've never gone, I don't think they'd purposefully keep out the curious or non-furries on principle). It's good to throw some of these because, unlike major gatherings like ComicCon or PAX, there aren't vast differences in the groups that might arrive. At their core, a section of ComicCon is very much like the entire gathering of GaymerX: a table/few tables of specific stuff or purpose catering to a smaller demographic that's interested. ComicCon deals with what seems to be nearly every cultural medium, from comics and graphic novels to television and film, in order to get together the largest crowd possible. Smaller conventions that focus on "Star Trek" or Dungeons & Dragons fans are the same, just with a finer focus. Would you say "why do you want your own convention" to a nerd in a Storm Trooper outfit? Would you ask why a LARP-ing enthusiast would want to be around other LARP-ing enthusiasts with the same gusto?
Last night, at the "before the con" party, there were straight people in the audience. I know, I saw them dotted around like Kangaskhan in the Safari Zone. They were treated just like every other paying customer, out to support their hobby and - I can only guess at this, but I think I'm right in this case - supporting the simple existence of a gaming class of gaymers. Girls weren't excluded because they brought their boyfriends just like gay people aren't excluded at DunDraCon. We were all there to have a good time and - possibly - learn something, or at least bring up some ideas that might make things better for everyone involved. After having gone to Classic Gaming Expo seven times and basking in the beautiful glow of old arcade games and chats about interactive origins, the 3DS Streetpasses and where LGBTQ characters might go in the future strikes me as exactly the same thing. Just because I date boys doesn't mean I'm not also interested in how much ass Jet Set Radio kicks (mostly mine, picked it back up again through PSN and it harms my SOUL), and just because I support LGBTQ causes doesn't mean LGBTQ characters can't bring something to the stories and experiences told through an interactive medium.
The Westboro Baptist Church has said repeatedly that they're going to protest at some point during the convention. To them I say, feel free. You're going to chant and sing and scream about how we're all going to hell, or that we're all worshipping false idols, or whatever bullshit you think revomiting might get picked up by the local news. And while you're doing that, we're going to be in one of my favorite, coolest, most beautiful cities in the world… and indoors talking about video games and why we like them.
I think we're all feeling better already.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time.
(Originally posted on The Ramble, Kevin Schaller's personal blog. All words are his, and not necessarily those of any organization or other writer here on GR. Besides, I hear he's kind of a drunk. And he smells, too. -Kevin)