This article was published on December 24th, 2019
The gaming industry has exploded over the last twenty years, creating a global online community that is comprised of people from all walks of life, including a significant percentage of the LGBTQ community. Fittingly, these members have carved out their own distinct identity within the gaming world and are continually pushing the envelope to bring more attention to their influence and contributions to the area.
A portmanteau of the words ‘gay’ and ‘games’, a gaymer is someone that has an interest in video games and is also a member of the LGBT community. These online games are a place for gay men and women to congregate together and play adult games with and against one another. The word gaymer is cute, indeed, but it also serves as a cultural and symbolic meaning for those that identify as such within the community.
The online gaming community has not been without its own controversies however, and there are many gaymers that have expressed feelings of alienation, fear, and discrimination within the gaming culture and the LGBTQ community itself. When discussing how they are treated within the gaming community, many LGBTQ members confirm that they have been repeatedly subjected to bigotry, homophobia, and hate speech while playing online games.
The onslaught of slurs used against gaymers via online meeting sites has left many feeling dejected, inadequate, and in some instances, suicidal. Reports of frequent bullying in the gaming realm has been linked to the content and design of video games, which typically feature a heteronormative design.
Throughout most of the history of video games across the last 50 years, the only options while playing were a straight man or a damsel in distress. It has only been the last decade or so that queer representation in the gaming community has significantly shifted, with queer bodies, practices, and everyday lives featured prominently, helping to display a sense of normalcy in gay men for those that have never experience any firsthand.
By default, most games feature heterosexual characters, forcing gaymers to think outside the box. In the minds of many members of the gaming industry, game designers choose to lean towards default straightness, specifically to appeal to the biggest consumer of their products, white cisgender men.
Additionally, the lack of inclusivity means that gay stereotypes remain, such as that gay men are all overly friendly, perfect, gym-fit sex addicts that spend countless hours in gyms, gay bars, or the mall. There are many that are the direct opposite of this, avoiding gyms, eschewing fashion, and watching television.
Gaymers are taking charge of the narrative these days, contesting the notion of deeply embedded stereotypes and challenging the status quo to build a stronger sense of community with other gaymers and throughout the community. through conversation with other online players and speaking their truth, gaymers are slowly but surely building a coalition that is quickly becoming a great base that supports the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ community.