Being Queer in Tabletop Gaming
It has now been over a year of being professionally full-time in the Tabletop Game Industry. So far, it has been an exciting ride with many bumps, but in general I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. As an openly out gaymer girl I have found that my experiences entering the industry has been different then my cis white male counterparts. Two years ago I wrote about what it meant to be a gaymer girl and how I saw the industry then. Many of my opinions have stayed the same but I have thought about it more and the amount of change I’ve seen since getting into the hobby in 2018 when I went to my first GenCon.
As a whole, the Tabletop Game Industry is incredibly progressive in its views on LGBTQ+ rights. When I entered the industry, I came in as they were “cleaning house” and having their own version of a #MeToo movement by removing designers and publishers that were problematic to the Industry. At the time I was engaged to a woman and in many ways used that as my rainbow shield when I was approached by some of the less desirable men in my field who thankfully have now been blacklisted from the Industry as a whole. One thing I have grown to love is this High School mentality of everyone knowing each other's business because it has made it easier to create a safe environment and weed out the people that are more harmful.
My boss Matt Fantastic has been in the industry longer than me and found that it went from LGBTQ+ designers being a novelty to being accepted to now being actively supported. Publishers work to get game submissions from members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as other minority groups in the industry. Many companies have also worked to hire a more diverse staff for their companies. It has been a change I’ve seen more recently in the past two or so years. In many ways this push for diversity has helped me gain a full-time position in the industry. That and saying “yes” to any opportunity that came my way.
Now that I am a “Design Lead” at Forever Stoked Creative I find that I use my perspective as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to make sure characters in my games are not just a bunch of white males. I aim to have people of all sizes, ethnicities and sexualities represented. I feel like being a part of a minority helps motivate me to help shine a light on themes, art, and stories that are underrepresented. There are very few queer centered games out but I have noticed an attempt to make more of them, especially in the realm of RPGs. I personally know players that used roleplaying to help them explore their sexualities and gender identities using the characters they built in D&D and other RPGs. This gave them a safe space to test how they might be received if they were to come out in real life which I think is great!
Since signing on as an Officer for Tabletop Gaymers, I have worked to make fun graphics and help host events to help show gaymers that they have a community. From passing out the “gaymer” and “ally” ribbons at Cons to our new “Safe Space” initiative at your local friendly game store. Our goal is to help educate and celebrate the gaymers of today and tomorrow!
Thankfully as a whole I have felt safe going to conventions as a gaymer. I have noticed that most people seem to be more liberal than conservative. The only homophobic minority I have had interactions with has been on the internet. With an occasional DM to my @tokengaymer Instagram or Twitter. I mostly laugh it off because the person is typically ignorant and unwilling to speak out loud their thoughts in the real world.
One way I could see us getting more support for the LGBTQ+ community is for those industry leaders to help silence the ignorant trolls on the internet. Many stay quiet with the excuse that they don’t mix politics and business. But me being gay shouldn’t be considered politics, it’s human-rights. I have the right to date and love whomever I want. It really shouldn’t be a defining feature of who I am but it is. I actively work to try and be a role model for younger or closeted members of the community that still don’t feel especially safe revealing who they are. More LGBTQ+ designers means more LGBTQ+ friendly games and more of us feeling welcome in the community. All we can do is continue to raise new voices up and shut down the voices that tear people down.