Gamers get a bad wrap.
From pop culture to parents everywhere, gamers are represented by an almost singular, degrading stereotype. Fat, ugly, glasses, poor hygiene, little to no social skills, rage-filled: these are the characteristics that make up the gamer archetype. The problem with this stereotype is that – in my experience – very few gamers actually fulfill these requirements.
In my experience, gamers make up a community that is not only tightly knit, but nice, accepting, and helpful. There are, of course, the exceptions to this rule, but I feel they make up a much smaller percentage of haters than what is present “in real life.”
Growing up, I always had many friends. I won’t say I was the most popular kid in school, but I had a lot of friends from a lot of different circles. I considered a few of these to be my best friends – we were inseparable, and I thought we would be lifelong pals. Friends meant the world to me. I never really had much in common with my family, and so I had put every ounce of effort and love into the relationships I had with friends.
Then, I came out of the closet. In January of 2011, I announced to the world that I, Dakota Martin, was gay. The response was very mixed. Most of my family was perfectly OK and generally supportive. An aunt and uncle disowned me, but I had never been very fond of them anyway. Most of my friends played the supportive friend role for awhile. I got many of these: “Well, I don’t agree with your choice, but I still love you.” That’s not true acceptance now is it? They continued to hang out with me every once in awhile until they realized that hanging out with my boyfriend and me would not get them any closer to a date with the opposite sex. That is when the phone calls, the text messages, and the invites stopped. Suddenly, the person to whom friends were everything was left nearly friendless.
I promise this has a purpose, and it is not to make you feel any pity for me. Compared to almost any other gay person I know, my experience has been a breeze.
What I am getting at is that, since I decided to get back into the gaming world, what I have found came as a great surprise. Living in Utah, I can’t be nearly as open as I would like to be about my sexuality. I tend to keep it to myself until directly confronted. I will not lie about who I am, but sometimes it’s just easier to keep to myself. However, I have found that this is not the case with gamers. They immediately accept me as just another gamer. I can post pictures of my boyfriend and me. I can tweet about the date we had last night, and I receive no judgment, no nods accompanied by a passive-aggressive look, no shocked expressions. I’m just me. And they accept that. And they support and encourage that. But they don’t even know me, so why are they so accepting? Because they are gamers. They are also plagued by a stereotype. In some small way, they must know what I and others have been through, and they celebrate difference because they have experienced these stories with people from all over the world. The internet has no boundaries, no end of possibilities, and that is why I choose to be a gamer.
Well, that was a very jumbled concoction of word vomit, but I think I managed to get my point across. But no great blog post comes without a call to action. So I shared my thoughts. Great, cool. What does that mean for you?
It means that next time you meet a gamer, don’t assume. Next time you meet a homosexual, a person from a specific background or race or creed or religion or whatever, don’t assume. Get to know people. Be as accepting as online gamers are, and I think you will find your soul enriched, your happiness increased, and your days fulfilled.