As a straight, white male raised in middle class Australia, I am not someone that has experienced the hardships of growing up as part of a minority group.
I can’t honestly tell you where my passion for embracing diversity and equality comes from, but then again that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that as a society, we should be able to come together and recognise that, even if we have not experienced them directly, we can fully support and do our best to understand the hardships of those who have not been treated equally in the past and strive to do so in the present.
When I heard that GX Australia would be happening I was elated. An event tailored to the queer gaming community just makes so much sense. GX Australia aims to be a place where people from the LGBTQ community and their friends can come together and share in their passion for gaming. Naturally, I jumped on the Kickstarter and secured myself and my best friend tickets, then promptly began sharing my excitement and desire for the project to be successful via social media.
Logging in a few hours later I encountered a comment on one of my posts that read something along the lines of “LOL. Why can’t queer people just go to non-queer tailored events?” At first I was a little angry, I thought to myself, “Well of course yes they can and do go to non-tailored events, but how does this person not understand why this event is so great? Why can’t they be happy that there is another great gaming culture event about to happen in Australia?”After considering the comment for a while, I opted to directly message the person that had posted the comment and explain why an event like GX Australia is so important. Being somewhat aware that this person did not intend to be so abrasive I opted to share the GX Australia mission statement with them.
GX Australia seeks to create an inclusive, safe space for everyone with a passion for gaming and geek culture. Its mission is to celebrate the diversity already present in the community while encouraging developers and publishers to continue improving on issues of representation, community safety, and anti-bullying initiatives.
In my encounters with other straight people particularly in conversations about my desire to help spread a better understanding of LGBTQ issues, I have come to understand that many of the beliefs that people have when it comes to the topic are borne from a lack of education or exposure to the LGBTQ community. Reactions such as the one I saw in that comment are really common, and while on face value they come across as an attack – and sometimes are – most often they are out of confusion or a misunderstanding of the purpose of events such as GX.
GX, aside from being a safe place for queer and straight gamers alike to come together and celebrate gaming, is an event that tailors its content for an audience with a common understanding of what it is like to be queer and those who wish to see level of queer representation match that of straight representation in games and gaming media. It is a place where people can come together and be passionate about games without fearing judgement for being who they are. GX is a super important event because it is giving voice and momentum to the conversation about equal representation.
You might still be wondering why minority tailored events are great for everyone like I suggested in the title? Well, minority tailored events are great for everyone because a society that comes to represent all people equally will be much richer than one that does not. With a diversity content creators and consumers represented equally we will be capable of designing more interesting and more meaningful stories. We will have more welcoming spaces for people to socialise in and we will have a society that can truly work towards solving problems that face all of us, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender, race or any other arbitrary identifier. After all, we are all human and we all have the capacity to treat each other equally.