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Old Before Their Time
By oblivion437
Posted on 04/13/15
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Why GaymerX Is Important: The First LGBTQ Gaming Convention

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


Avila, 21, agrees. “As a straight female gamer, I do find myself bearing many slurs and gender-targeted taunts. I do feel that the gaming community treats the LGBTQ* and female members of its community with more or less equal disdain. One can be taunted for being gay as an insult to player ability, but also for being female—and God help you if you reveal that you actually have ovaries.”
 
Avila takes pride in the fact that GaymerX will be her first major gaming convention:

Consider the two other big gaming conventions/trade shows I've always dreamed of attending: PAX and E3. PAX is great, but the recent brouhaha with Gabe's cisprivilege was discouraging, as have been many of Penny Arcade's other responses to similar scenarios—not a great paragon of the forward-thinking gaming community.

E3 has notorious trouble with sexism. GaymerX is different because I believe that it will be a massive step in the right direction. I'm personally taking shelter in that safe space. It's comforting that there's a major con that makes the big wigs in the gaming community take notice, and that it's a con devoted to equality.

For Lucas, the decision to fly across an entire ocean was near-instant. “I knew as soon as I'd read the Kickstarter that I wanted to go, and decided to worry about the little details—like the four-figure plane ticket bill—later. It felt to me like it was something special, something that I really wanted to be a part of, moreso with it being the first of its kind.”
 
In part, says Lucas, the decision was fueled by the chance to meet other gaymers in person. “I think it's because there's something of a commonality between gay people that leads to a feeling of comfort,” he reasons. “That's not to say we all get on great all the time, of course, and we all have our differences, but I find it easier to break the ice and easier to relax around people when I know I can be myself without worrying about having to defend my way of life.”
 
Las Vegas-area life coach Show'Chi Drake believes that this comfort could—and should—spread through gaming culture as a whole. Speaking of the August convention, Drake says that it “brings awareness first and foremost. GaymerX says, 'Yes, we live an alternative lifestyle—but we're gamers too.' It says that yes, we exist. Yes, it's okay to be a member of the LGBTQ* community and be a gamer... overall, though, we are all gamers and you're welcome to join us as such, as gamers. No matter your orientation, games are something we all have in common and it's okay to cool with us.”
 
And while finding similarities is good, Rocca, who identifies as genderqueer, believes that noticing differences and appreciating them are also good. “I think the big takeaway,” says Rocca, “is going to be mainly that while most game conventions follow the same formula of what sorts of things to feature and headline, there is a whole world within the game industry that isn't being given attention. We want to make sure people have a new experience and learn that a different game convention is a good thing.”


While the convention itself might be different, the thoughts of the attendees resonate with other gamers.
 
Lucas is co-hosting the Pokémon meet and greet, and has gone as far as to create the legendary Golden Bay City Gym, appearing once a year, according to their Facebook page. He confesses, “I'm trembling with equal parts excitement and terror.”
 
Stephenson says that his goal, “entertainment-wise, is whatever is happening that I can make it to.”
 
Avila is ready to meet “all of the lovely people from GaymerConnect, seeing Pandora Boxx, and attending panels from important figures in the gaming community, including Riot.”
 
“Not in that order,” she quickly adds, then clarifies, “I'm excited for everything.”
 
Drake sees GaymerX, and other gayming conventions, as positive progress: “I would hope that it opens the average gamer's mind a bit. There will always be folks who shy away from an event like this for their own closed-minded reasons, but for those who check it out, it can be an enlightening experience. They may even make a few friends in the process.”
 
The life coach also makes a pointed note at the positive effects on the psyche of LGBTQ gaymers. “I think it would encourage them to 'come out,' so to speak,” Drake continues. “To be proud of not only their sexual community, but to the gaming community. It lets them now that there are many others who they can identify with on the gaming level, and kick a little butt in the process. After all, true gamers strive for more competition. An event like this can only increase the competition.”
 
Lucas sees the event as bigger that just a weekend of fun. Regarding LGBTQ representation in games, he thinks that “GaymerX will actually play a big part in that through its very existence—the idea that being gay and being a gamer aren't just acceptable traits, they're things to be celebrated. If we can get that idea out there I think the future will be pretty bright, though I'd perhaps say it's a little further off than we might have liked - but worth every bit of work that'll have got us there when we arrive.”
 
Avila concludes with a final word: “Change happens on a case-by-case basis, and being a bystander never affected meaningful change.”

[Look for GameRevolution's coverage with Ryan Bates, Jessica Vazquez, Kevin Schaller, and me when we attend the inaugural GaymerX.]
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