by: Thaddeus Grabowy
Hello, my name is TJ and I am a gaymer. While choices were limited at the time, I suppose I should have realized my sexuality and my gaming were inextricably linked when I received my first game system: the Gameboy Color in its original purple. Gender/sexuality essentialism aside, video games have been and continue to be an integral part to my identity. Like any mass medium, video games give us stories and characters that stay with us.
Uniquely, video games allow us a degree of interactivity that can mean so much. This interactivity lets us bond with video games in a way even the best book or film cannot capture. You can yell at your TV or the book in your hands but only with video games does your relationship become a two-way street.
Of course that’s gaming and its joys in general; what about gayming? I wasn’t really a gaymer until relatively recently. I was a gamer sure and perhaps a pseudo/proto-feminist gamer (Peach/Zelda/Jigglypuff will forever be my Super Smash Brothers Trifecta of Death) but it wasn’t until I entered college that I started playing games with explicit homosexuality and with other gays that I became a gaymer.
BC (before college), I would, ahem, appreciate the male form in the rare times when it was showcased. BC, I would read any sexual ambiguity as gay. BC, I would play World of Warcraft and have stories for each of my characters that only I knew but would have greatly detailed accounts of their gayness. All of which was very nice but at best it made me a gaymer with a silent ‘y’.
Once in college, what with Dragon Age I, Skyrim, Soul Caliber IV, and meeting my boyfriend, there was finally enough for me to emphasize that no-longer-silent ‘y’ in my title. No more coded romance in Fire Emblem games, no more played for laughs transvestitism/gay saunas/date with Barrett from Final Fantasy VII, and no more being the only guy in the room who liked joysticks metaphorically, too. I had found my people and they were awesome.
It’s not all fun and games…rather there’s some unfun in games. And that comes in the form of the gaming community at large. Plenty of others have written on how the gaming community has a vocal minority—one hopes it is a minority—that takes issue with the growing visibility of gamers and characters that are women, LGBT, of color, or some combination thereof. These narrow-minded haters will bemoan the destruction of gaming culture by forced inclusiveness and how these “newcomers” aren’t real gamers. For the most part, the developers of video games seem to be on our side and so this particular wankery is only so much head-ache inducing dust in the wind.
The flipside is when the vitriol escapes ignorable forum posts and makes its way into the games we play or affects outside groups. Playing an online multiplayer game can subject you to a whole brace of insults, regardless of your identity, that makes it no easier to be called racist, sexist, or heterosexist epithets in a place you go to escape such things. And when organizations are formed to combat this ugly tendency in gaming or greater geekdom, you can bet that the venom spills over leading to cruel comments, hacking, and defacing of websites as in the cases of GaymerCon and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games among others.
Thankfully, despite the hatred that is directed at gaymers that we exist as a group is what I love best about being a gaymer. I am no longer a lone, single—double entendre(!)—gamer; I’m a gaymer who reads /r/gaymers on Reddit, who has gay/queer gamer friends, and who has a gaymer boyfriend who loves me very much and more importantly loves to grind in old-school JRPGS for me. Our community grows constantly as time goes on and together we are strong, fun, and just so darn cute.
G@YM312 4 L1F3!!!!111!!1
Thaddeus Grabowy is a fledgling Internet writer which puts him somewhere above Tumblr rebloggers and below inane Justin Bieber Twitter followers. He has plans for the future but until then he’s content to stay at the Jersey Shore. You can find his work at Queerty which is not a site for gay computer geeks.