|Image from Gaymercon.|
Naturally, reactions elsewhere on the internet are not quite so positive.
Sterling's article was wonderful, but I wanted to say in my own words why I feel that a convention like this is important. Keep in mind, nobody's trying to segregate anything: Gaymercon is open to straight people, bisexual people, gay people, asexual people, pansexual people, and any other form of sexual orientation, race, or gender you can think of. Creating a gathering of people with a shared characteristic, be it interest or something immutable, is not segregation. If this convention were an attempt to segregate people by sexuality, then only queer people would be allowed into it. Uniting shared characteristics and segregation are two completely different things.
I see many people using arguments such as "Why do we even need this? They're already the minority and we don't need this shoved in our face!", "This is useless! They just want to segregate themselves and they're not actually promoting equality!", or "This is stupid! Why would you exclude people?!"
The fact is that the majority of gaming--the majority of nerdy/geeky anything--is geared toward heterosexual people. Yes, the majority of the world's population is heterosexual... but gamer culture is disproportionately so. The amount of straight characters vastly outweighs the amount of queer characters, to the point where they seem to be in only several specific franchises. To gay people, that's really alienating. Having a group of people that share that experience can be just as cool as having a group of people that share the experience of enjoying video games in general.
Nobody is trying to exclude anybody here. While we need to push for an accepting atmosphere in bigger gamer gatherings--San Diego Comic-Con, for instance--Gaymercon is not trying to exclude anyone. Having a gathering for a set of interests or characteristics isn't about excluding others; it's about including people who may feel alienated in other settings.
Go play a game of Call of Duty or Halo online. Listen to the insults thrown around: "Gay". "Homo". "Faggot". Some people want to move away from that, and while plenty of straight people don't use those terms, they cannot know what it feels like to have a large segment of the population opposed to their entire existence, to have so many people disgusted just because they like men instead of women or vice-versa. Many gamers even seem to be more comfortable playing a female character than a gay one.
Another common argument against something like this tends to go along the lines of "We don't have straight gamer conventions!"
|Even companies whose games eschew stereotypes have|
booth babes. Image from Atlus Online.
Nobody here is trying to "politicize" gaming. Sexuality is not inherently political, but it is inherently human, whether it be sex drive, a lack of of it, an overabundance of it, or a different manifestation of it. Just as much as Heterosexual Man A wants to walk around holding his girlfriend's hand, Homosexual Woman A wants to do the same with her girlfriend. It's as simple as that.
What I feel the core of this entire incident is the feeling of exclusion. Gaymercon is not trying to segregate gay gamers from the rest of the gamer population; it's not trying to exclude straight people; it's not trying to pull away from the main gamer culture and not affect it. It's trying to make a comfortable space for gamers of sexual minorities who may feel ostracized in other gaming settings. While we need to push for greater representation of minorities in games, that doesn't mean that having a space to our own--whether it be for RPG gamers, fighting gamers, or queer gamers--is counterproductive. It's simply another way to feel accepted, just as the idea of a bigger convention is.
I'm going to close this post by linking you guys to a collection of others' opinions that are in line with mine. Perhaps they could word it better than I could; I think they're well worth reading, and more succinct than I could be.