For those of you who don’t know, for the last couple of years I have done the Alternate Lifestyles programming at NorwesCon, a Seattle-area SF/F convention. What this means is that I get to do the programming for Polyamory, BDSM, Sexuality, Goth, Fanfic and a whole lot of other things that don’t really fit anywhere else. This includes the LGBT programming (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender/sexual).
Now, SF/F conventions on the whole are pretty comfortable and safe places to be Out, that is, to be openly Gay/Queer. I can hold hands with my girlfriend, for example, and mostly not have to worry about anyone reacting negatively. I have Trans friends who can dress as whichever Gender they are more comfortable as, and be safe. However, as someone pointed out in one of the LGBT Panels I ran this year, the Convention, while safe, is still a largely Hetero-normative space filled with Straight guys and Straight or Bi- girls. My first instinct was to blow this off and be all protective of the Con-space. But after thinking about it for awhile, I saw that the gentleman in question was right, and thankfully he gave me the opportunity to apologize to him.
Because when I really thought about it, he was right. Most of the Con programming, apart from the very few panels on the Alt. Lifestyles track, when they do deal with Gender or Sexuality, deal only with the Binary model of male and female, usually Heterosexual. And then someone brought up the issue of Queer Gamers, and honest to Gods, apart from myself and some of the girls in the Girl Game, I couldn’t think of any Queer Gamers. Now whether this is due to an antipathy toward the LGBT from Gaming culture, or due to an antipathy toward Gaming on the part of Queer culture, I don’t know.
Partially, I blame this on a lack of Queer characters in the SF/F media. I mean, let’s face it, for mainstream media Inara’s Bisexuality on Firefly (if you blinked you might have missed it) and Capt. Jack Harkness on Dr. Who and Torchwood are about it for Out Queer characters. In comics you have Batwoman and her former partner, Northstar in Marvel, and… there’s a few more, but no names are immediately leaping to mind. (Granted after I write this I’m going to get about a bazillion replies giving me more Queer characters I’ve missed. Which is awesome!) While there are more to choose from in SF/F literature, they are still vastly under-represented, and WELL written Queer characters are even more rare.
Gaming itself has a relatively bad reputation for Homophobic behavior, if not actual Homophobia. Now, now, don’t get all defensive on me. It pains me to say this as much, if not more than it pains you to read it. I love Gaming, but there are some behaviors I could decidedly live without.
In the next panel, I asked everyone what they wanted to see, and they overwhelmingly said that they wanted more LGBT panels (held during daylight hours), they wanted a Gay Social or Mixer of some sort. I, however, have decided that maybe we need to have a teeny bit more of a presence than that. I’m looking to start up an LGBT Fandom group to just be present, offer support to anyone coming out or thinking of coming out, organize things like the Queer Mixer, etc…
But I’d like to hear from you guys, Queer or Straight, what do you think? Do you feel that Cons are a safe place? Would you like to see more LGBT programming, or at the very least, an attempt to make sure that all Gender possibilities are covered in panels on Gender and SF/F? Are you a Queer Gamer? How do you feel about that? Are you Out to your gaming buddies? Do you think my assessment of perception of Gamers is fair or true? Do you think that having a more visible or Out presence at Cons (SF/F and Gaming) will help? Would you like to join my treehouse gang, either as Queer or as an Ally? Do you think I’m just being ridiculous and all us Queers need to get over ourselves?
I want to hear your opinions, people.