This week, GaymerX announced the launch of GaymerX2, their second annual event. GaymerX is an LGBT focused gaming convention that emphasizes inclusivity in the gaming community. Their motto is, “Everyone Games.”
They lived up to their motto this year at their inaugural event in August. All types of people were there to play games, talk about games, have their voices heard and….party. There were people of all genders, sexual orientations (it’s for straight people too!), and cultures in attendance. GaymerX was the first convention of it’s kind, and all I can say is: It’s about time.
For their first year, they did an amazing job of holding things together. The venue (the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco’s Japantown), was rather small. Which can be expected, since they expected a much smaller number of people to attend. Apparently, the need for a safe space to be yourself (as a gamer, and as a member of the LGBT community) was greater than expected.
Even with the small venue and a few technical difficulties here and there, the convention was definitely a success (and a triumph, as Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS in the Portal games, sang at the closing of the con). There were no complaints from the hotel, and security only reported one minor incident over the course of the event. This was no surprise for those who spent time talking to the exhibitors, panelists, attendees and staff. Everyone was polite, happy, helpful, and excited to be there; the convention oozed positivity. So much so that one man proposed to his boyfriend with the help of Ellen McLain singing in the voice of GLaDOS.
Next year, the event will be even better. It will be held July 11-13 at the Intercontinental San Francisco. They’ve upgraded from 2 days to 3, and the hotel is much larger with more room for games, panels, and exhibitors. Oh, and for the drinking and the concert. Can’t forget those!
Another upgrade provided for next year will be that each attendee’s badge will include their preferred gender pronoun on it. This year, many people brought up the fact that this was the first time they were at a con where people asked them what their preferred pronouns were. Next year, it’ll be right on the badge.
Why is this important? In the mainstream world, we all are fit into these male and female boxes. In reality, it sometimes doesn’t work that way. Even in the LGBT community, we forget that sometimes, people don’t fit into those boxes. We see someone who looks female and assume they are, but when you ask them…they may go by male pronouns or something you’ve never even heard of. By giving others the choice to identify the way they’d like to, it helps create a safe space where people are empowered to be who they are.
That brings me to why I’m even talking about this. People who are different from the norm, whether it be that they’re gay, black, Latino, handicapped, female, or mentally ill (that list is not all inclusive, there are many more), need to feel represented and accepted in society. I cannot stress how important it is for them to have a safe space to be who they are and enjoy what they love.
Safe spaces provide us the capacity to be authentic and thrive. It’s important in the therapeutic process, as well as in life. It is a place to feel normal, to connect with others, and to heal. This is exactly what GaymerX does.
The other thing that makes a convention like this so empowering is the ability to find others who you can relate to. It creates a community where you can feel normal and feel like you’re not weird. GaymerX created GaymerConnect for that reason, before the first con even started. It’s an online community to talk to others about games and other geeky things, as well as to find those who like the same games as you so you can play together! You can even level up and build your stats. It’s awesome.
Basically, GaymerX was awesome, and I was blown away at how amazing the people were, and the vibe I got from the convention. Next year looks to be even better, and I can’t wait. Who knows, maybe even we can get a mental health panel going?
Oh, and remember the couple who got engaged this year? Yeah…they’re getting married at GaymerX2, and everyone’s invited!