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Why GaymerX Is Important: The First LGBTQ Gaming Convention

Posted on Monday, July 15 @ 17:27:31 Eastern by ryanbates

It's not your average gaming convention, and that's quite all right with them.
 
Nearing close to 2,000 attendees, the inaugural GaymerX convention will open on August 3-4, 2013 in Japantown, San Francisco. Billing itself as the first gaming convention with a focus on LGBTQ Geek Culture, the convention has drawn the attention of several big names both in the world of gaming and in queer culture, including EA, BioWare, Riot Games, The Advocate, and LOGO TV. If nothing else, the convention has commanded the attention of gamers worldwide.
 
“I'm beyond excited for GaymerX. It's my first major con, and I'm making a mini-vacation of it with my good friends and partner,” said Kristi Avila, of Arcata, California. “I have high hopes for it.”
 
“I've been stoked for nearly a year,” added Adam Lucas, flying in all the way from Cork, Ireland. “If anything, it almost seems unreal for it to be so close now, what with it being some far-off calendar entry for so long.”
 
The concept for the convention, according to Toni Rocca, community director for sister site GaymerConnect, came when the convention founder Matt Conn found himself trapped in the dual door closet many LGBTQ gamers find themselves trapped in. According to Rocca, Conn was caught between “the tech circles, which were predominantly straight, and the gay culture which seemed to ostracize nerds. He wished for a place he could both be openly gay and geeky. When he failed to find one, he started the SFGaymers group.
 
“When Matt found that there were so many people like him with such interests in the gay community, it got him thinking about making a bigger event. He felt that if there were more people out there like him dreaming for a community like this, he wanted to make that come true. And that's where GaymerX came in.”
 
Lucas, a gay 26-year-old lover of RPGs, has seen the dual door closet in action:
I remember when a lot of what we now rightly consider really offensive and hurtful stuff was being dismissed as just harmless smack talk, which was thought of as part of the gaming culture.
 
It's quite a poisonous attitude to have, because if that's how it's handled by the administrators and community managers and such, you start to feel as though you're in the wrong for being offended.

The festivities will unofficially begin the night before the convention, as anyone who has bought a “Boss Level” (VIP) badge will be welcomed to a pre-convention party, featuring musical talents and hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race fan-favorite Pandora Boxx. Targeted to the LGBTQ “gayming” community, offered panels [Ryan and I will be on a couple of panels for Gaymers and Video Game Journalism. ~Ed. Nick] strike a balance between gaming issues and queer society issues, including Pokémon trainer meet and greets, gayming glory stories, what it takes to build queer geek communities, how to navigate problematic fandoms, and how to translate iconic character qualities into a notable LGBTQ protagonist.
 
Rocca reinforces the idea of event diversity:

The highlights really depend on who is coming and what their interests are. For industry people we've got industry-oriented seminars and meet-n-greets, [and] for the fun weekenders we've got cute, cosplay-friendly pageants and a fun concert. For the more do-it-yourself crowd we've got games workshops and talks with indie game devs on how you can get into the world of games. And for the diehard fans we've got names like Ellen McLain, Anna Anthropy, David Skleres, and more.

Josh Stephenson, the 28-year-old host of the Geek Charisma podcast, has a variety of interests going into GaymerX:

There are some panels I am looking forward to a lot, like the Pokémon meet and greet, the one called 'Double Whammy' which focuses on lesbian and bisexual women in gaming, and 'Voice Acting 101' being hosted by McLain and her husband, John Patrick Lowrie, both who have voiced notable characters for Valve Games, including titles like Portal and Team Fortress 2. Stephenson is also looking forward to meeting fellow gamers of all types.

The fact that he's straight and they're not doesn't phase him. “I've known people who were gay or transgender, and you would never think it looking at them unless they told you,” says Stephenson. He sees gaymers as “normal, awesome people. Just because they live a different lifestyle than mine, it's never changed my opinion that we are all equal. A gamer is a gamer, and they have the same rights as me.”
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