[dropcap size=big]G[/dropcap]aymerX2 was a fantastic video game convention. Once I got over my personal opposition of the event’s name (which they’ve since gone and changed anyhow), I found it to be a tremendously excellent time. Now, it was by far the smallest convention I’ve ever attended but that makes sense considering I typically go to massive events such as Anime Expo and E3. With that said, it actually felt cozy.
The entire time I spent at GaymerX2 felt safe — which is more than could be said for any other convention of the 20+ I’ve ever attended. This was a space that was beautiful, open, and where no one was about to give you a strange look. I cherished that entire weekend and knew that, if somehow a third event ever came to fruition, that I’d definitely go to it too. My failure to attend the first convention definitely dogged on me for a while as well. How could I have missed such a great opportunity (despite totally knowing about the original Kickstarter in 2012).
Through an intense set of circumstances, people began promising funds for a third year to actually take place. This is interesting enough as GaymerX2 was meant to be the final convention ever. When news arrived that GX3 was officially happening I was ecstatic! It’s just that since then events beyond their control have caused me to worry about this year’s event. I’m sure it might all sound overdramatic, paranoid, or even hipster-like, but these are thoughts that have been stewing for months and they will likely not leave my mind until I’m actually at GX3 having a grand old time. Please note that the following content includes references to harassment, bigotry, and related topics so those sensitive to such commentary may not wish to read on. Heck, thinking about all this is upsetting to me, too.
My first fear is connected to events that took place earlier this year online. An indeterminately sized group of gamers took it upon themselves to lash out against GX3 for reasons I never quite figured out. This lasted for about a week, I think, and the harassment was palpable. Were there any goals to this beyond making their opposition to a LGBTQ-focused event known? Who can say. That might not even be an accurate representation, but again this was something I did my best to avoid, lest it all upset me on a more personal level.
It appears that the dust has mostly settled since then as months have passed without much obvious issue. One of the fears related to this is that this group of people have not forgotten their distaste with GX3 and will show up again when the convention is happening. Of course, actually showing up in person seems a bit much, especially if it would mean paying for a ticket to a convention just to harass others. Considering that would lead to being thrown out, it seems like a huge waste of money for those individuals. Even so, it’s something which is unpredictable. Maybe this is too ridiculous for most to even take seriously.
It’s with my second fear that things feel a bit more “realistic.” Earlier this year, GaymerX2 was shown on the HBO show Looking. I’ve not watched it myself, but apparently the show is focused on gay relationships and therefore has a high proportion of LGBTQ fans. By being introduced to the convention through this show, many folks who had never before heard of it bought tickets and will be enjoying it alongside everyone else. This should be a thing to celebrate, as it means the greater potential of financial success for GX3!
So why am I scared? My fear stems from an unfortunate, ugly realization that I’ve made by existing within the LGBTQ community for some years now. Just because someone states that they are part of the LGBTQ family does not mean they are accepting of everyone that this shorthand refers to. For example, many gay and lesbian people fail to recognize bisexuals as “real” people with real emotions and instead choose to make fun of or deny their sexuality.
Then there are many lesbian, gay, and bi people who have less than optimal understanding and acceptance of transgender people or queerness at all. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a mistaken pronoun and other times it’s an outright refusal to treat someone as a regular human being. Obviously, not all LGBTQ community members are like this, but some folks out there are and have never even been challenged for their behavior. In-fighting happens even though we all wish it didn’t. It hurts to write about but it’s even more insidious when it happens to you in a place you believe to be “safe.” I feel that this increasing awareness of GX3 may invite some of that ignorant element.
No, I was never treated poorly at any point during GaymerX2. I want to reiterate that it was the most safe I have ever felt at any gaming or geek event ever and I still cling to the hope that GX3 will repeat that circumstance for me. But even if it does, there’ still a dread deep within that someone will ruin that same feeling for someone else. Perhaps someone who doesn’t “pass.” Or for an individual who for whatever reason looks to a bigoted person as an outsider. It could come from an outside naysayer or it could come from someone in the LGBTQ community. The thing is, it doesn’t matter who causes verbal, mental, or physical harm to another person because that is something which isn’t easily undone.
My hope is that GX3 staff are extremely vigilant in ensuring that anyone who appears to be in distress is helped and that any arguments are quelled immediately. GaymerX2 was beautiful and I know and believe that 2015 can be more of that same fabulousness. Everyone just needs to ensure that they are aware and kind. Even if you do not understand someone’s worldview, beliefs, desires, etc, that is no reason to say anything against them. Not at this event. GX3 is a means for LGBTQ gamers and allies to come together and cherish all that we hold dear without the world getting us down. Let’s not cause harm to ourselves.