Two and a half days after experiencing the fullness that was the inaugural GaymerX convention this weekend in Japantown, San Francisco, the only thought left in my brain is the following: This must be how the first PAX convention felt.
When GaymerX, the first LGBT convention for gay gamers (or "gaymers"), started as just an idea on Kickstarter by co-founders Matt Conn, Andrew Evans, and Toni Rocca, the hope was that it would get at best 1,000 people interested enough to purchase a badge. For what kind of demand could there be for an audience that's pretty much unheard of outside of its little bubble? Well, about how twice that? No? Then how about more than thrice that?!
Suffice it to say, GaymerX was a rousing success. Of course, there were hiccups along the way, what with a few audio/visual problems during panels, some scheduling conflicts that needed to be resolved, and somewhat long lines for registration. But that's all par for the course for a convention, let alone one that is the first of its kind. All things considered, it's actually amazing that everything went as smoothly as it did, what with the numerous artist galleries, the fabulous cosplay pageant, the crowded expo hall, the two dance parties featuring the likes of Aethernaut and Zeke Mystique, and throngs of people lining up to attend panels (and who wouldn't want to go to anything that involved Ellen McLain, anyway?).
I've never been to a gaming convention that felt so inclusive. Every attendee, gay or straight, seemed to be the nicest person I've ever met. Perhaps it was a feeling of not having to worry about being LGBTQ, or a gamer, or both. Perhaps it was about being a part of something historic, and not wanting to fuck it up for everyone else. (Apparently, there was only one incident during the entire course of GaymerX, and the host venue, Hotel Kabuki, said that this was the best, most secure event they have ever had at its hotel.) Whatever it was, the environment of acceptance was what made GaymerX special.
Important note: GaymerX didn't smell. Maybe it was Hotel Kabuki itself or the standard of LGBT hygiene, but none of the common nerd stank was present.
I also won't forget GaymerX for allowing me to be a part of not just one, but two, panels. The first panel, on Sunday in the morning, about how to break into video game journalism essentially turned into a GameRevolution panel with me, Kevin Schaller, Jessica Vazquez, and Ryan Bates all in attendance. It was a great chance to provide feedback and field questions from the crowd, which filled the room to capacity, as well as to prepare ourselves for another panel on the role of LGBTQ journalists in the industry that was scheduled right at the end of the day in the largest room at Hotel Kabuki without any other panels competing for time. (Talk about being nervous.)
Luckily, when the lights were on me and I was well-prepared for my responses, everything went
horribly wrong ran incredibly well. Along with Steve Hogarty from the UK and Joshua Meadows, we discussed the lack of coverage of GaymerX in the mainstream gaming press, the pursuit of impartial coverage despite being a LGBT journalist, and the current state of gaming journalism in general. It was a loaded subject for sure, and I had little sleep the day before, but I believe everyone did an amazing job. If but for our few, fleeting minutes of fame, you GameRevolutionaries would have been proud!
Ultimately, the impact of GaymerX goes beyond what any one of us says. I understand the comments saying that this kind of convention is self-segregating, but that's the natural conclusion for a group of people who feel marginalized, ostracized, and hated for who they are. I live in my bubble in the Bay Area where the acceptance of gays and gaymers is widespread, but elsewhere in America and overseas, this can unfortunately be far from reality. There is a need for people to belong, just as the first PAX was a place where gamers could belong. That's why GaymerX exists, and that's why I already can't wait for GaymerX 2.
(To the Westboro Baptist Church: Why didn't you show up?! You missed this awesome cake! Oh well, better luck next year!)