You don't know me. If you do, odds are you don't like me. I'm one of those people who have been here too long, and unfortunately, haven't been here in far too long. In spite of this, I felt it was necessary to dust off the old blog and toss in my two cents regarding Gaymercon.
But first, I need to applaud one Jim Sterling on his surprising and tasteful "coming out". I don't know how better to put that, but publicly declaring one's orientation is something that takes a certain amount of bravery. Having been in that situation, I can say that it is uncomfortable in the best of times, and downright awful and terrifying in the worst. A statement of that nature in a professional setting, especially one involving internet media, takes a serious pair of balls. So I raise my glass to Jim's balls.
In all seriousness, there is a point to this blather.
At the first announcement of the existence of Gaymercon, I was taken aback. For what seems to be the very first time, there is a convention that I can relate to on nearly every level. It also gave me a bit of the warm fuzzies, because it means there are people who felt the same way. It was kind of cool as an idea, but the convention as a real thing is hard to visualize. I have no idea who will have booths, who will have keynotes, what the themes will be, or even what demographic they'll shoot for. Is this an industry gathering, or a consumer show? In my visualizations of this event, I have two extremes. One being a serious, dialogue driven exploration of the integration of gay themes and LGBT awareness into the modern gaming environment. The other can be summed up in two words; booth boys. Neither seem like a terribly acceptable route to take. I know the convention is still in the planning stages, but it seems like a good movement with no direction.
The one thing I do know is that the reactions are going to be interesting. The online response has already outlined the feelings of supporters and naysayers alike, so you should just read comments on blogs covering the convention to get a general understanding. Neither I nor anyone else has the right to make up your mind for you. That is your prerogative, and I would never dream of taking that away from you. It's part of what makes living in America wonderful. But dear reader, I implore you to take off your shoes for a moment, and step into mine.
I have always been one for subtle integration of LGBT into culture. Working towards equal rights, and the transition from mere tolerance to acceptance isn't something that can be done by beating people over the head with it. The parades, the protests, the soapbox dialogue has seemed far too flashy. I dare say flamboyant. Rainbow everything, and chants like "we're here, we're queer, get used to it" always struck me as wrong. To me, the problem is they highlight the community, make them seem different, and come of as a shallow response to a deep problem. The vocal minority are militant, and that doesn't win many friends. I've been one for a casual integration. Win them over with kindness, humor, and by being a good person. When that happens, people like you as a person before they even know you're gay. What are they going to do then? Retroactively edit their memories of good times with you to make your presence offensive? Hard to do, with even the most close minded of people.
That side of me is wary of this convention. Further alienation isn't something I would like to subscribe to, thank you very much. Whats the point of isolating ourselves from the rest of the gaming populace? Gamers already carry the stigma of being overweight teen males who never interact socially, which we all know is a fallacy. Creating a subculture of a counterculture could be restricting and limiting. I just want to live my life, and boomheadshot some bitches when I get home.
The other side of the coin is the tortured, lonely teenager that many in the community carry in their chests. The process of coming out, or the struggle of staying in the closet leaves numerous invisible scars. By being an invisible minority, things can get incredibly sad and lonely. You know there are others out there, and yet you are powerless to go find them for fear of outing yourself in front of the wrong person. Constantly stuffing a part of your identity so deep that nobody can find it is taxing. The collective understanding of what its like breeds camaraderie amongst members of the LBGT community. To me, the creation of gay specific social groups comes from this collective understanding. The ability to function in a group where orientation is never an issue is incredibly liberating. It provides a solid frame you can lean on when others on the outside find it necessary to try and knock you down. It's as much a shelter as anything. I'm not implying that we're all damaged and sad, but to reach a psychological state where you're comfortable in your own skin takes time, and a welcoming community makes that far easier to find.
That side of me thinks this convention is wonderful. Finally, a convention for me. I can go, and there's no pretense or judgement, because everyone arrived with the understanding that this was for LBGT. I don't have to attend the heady philosophical discussions explaining design choices of the sex scene from the Witcher or Mass Effect. But I can. I can share my experiences, meet like minded people, and maybe even meet a cute guy there. I can do that, and not worry that some bro will be pissed of at me. The best part is, it's not even closed. Anybody can go! I can only imagine this being a good thing.
So for all the straight people out there criticizing and guffawing the creation of this convention, get over it. Many of the arguments start with "I don't understand why____". I contest that they are right. They don't understand. That have none of the context or experience to draw from to justify the creation of Gaymercon. Some people seem incredibly smug, because they think this is a stupid idea for REASONS! You can continue to think that way, but just remember that you feel that way because you aren't gay, and therefore have no reason to criticize the idea. You don't have to go. I doubt very much it will have any bearing on games in the near future, and therefore it isn't something worth worrying about.
Lets just see how this works out, and we can discuss the success of the convention after it actually happens.