Gamers who’ve been ignored at best or persecuted at worst will finally have a chance to let their colors fly; GaymerCon, the first gaming and geek culture convention for LGBT gamers, is officially happening. Thanks in part to vocal support from Microsoft, GaymerCon’s Kickstarter has brought in $86,000 — more than three times its original goal. GaymerCon co-founder Jack DeVries has already recorded a sweet thank-you message to all the event’s supporters, and has now announced an official time and location for the event: August 2013, in sunny and welcoming San Francisco.
The GaymerCon Kickstarter page promised that $35k would pay for a concert and a “night of drinking, dancing, and socializing,” $50k would make possible a free “brunchfast” for those who contributed more than $100, and $60k would pay for “a celebrity boss of honor.” With all those targets hit and surpassed, the only question is which celebrities and bands will have the honor of appearing at what promises to be a major event.
In a thoughtful interview at 1UP, the organizers made clear that GaymerCon would be about inclusion, not exclusion. “GaymerCon is about adding MORE gamer space, not taking people away from established gamer spaces,” said public relations director Benjamin Williams. “I think gaming culture has grown to the point where subcultures appearing within it is a natural and healthy progression. We are not separating from gaming culture — we are growing it in our own unique way.”
Speaking to GayGamer.com, event founder Matt Conn also talked about how he has been active for years in creating space for “gay geeks,” feeling like the nerd scene was often openly homophobic, while the gay scene didn’t always have room for his love of anime, video games, and similar subcultural pursuits.
Conn recently spoke to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), stressing the importance of the event as a tool for improving the visibility of LGBT gamers within the industry. “Historically, there has been very little content with [LGBT] themes or options in video games and other geek media,” he said. “We hope to show the world that that this audience not only exists, but is flourishing.” Many game companies justify their uniformity of content by saying that most of their customers are young, white, straight males, and a big showing at GaymerCon could go a long way to changing that belief.
As in many other aspects of American life, LGBT gamers have been making their presence felt in the gaming industry. The Mass Effect trilogy went from explicitly refusing to include gay content to putting serious thought into how to implement same-sex romance that was respectful and smart. The Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO was so gay-friendly that professional hater Tony Perkins condemned it on the radio. And even the notoriously narrow-minded Street Fighter community now has a celebrated champion who cheerfully describes himself as a “fierce bitch.” We may not have jet packs or laser pistols (yet)… but the future is definitely here.