Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Ari Nellen0
Gaymer X – 6 Steps for Tolerance & ‘Safe(r) Spaces’ at Conventions
You may or may not be heading to Sydney and Gaymer X over the weekend and unfortunately for us here at XXP we just could not organize ourselves to be there. Even for an awesome con where LGBTI and other queer gamers such as myself could feel more comfortable with expressing my identity!
While there is still contention over safe(r) spaces policies, I’m not going to defend to here because I think others have done it better. I also think it is obviously important to have a space where LGBTI don’t feel threatened and are able to still enjoy games.
Rather this article will be tips for navigating a queer safe(r) spaces.
Self identifying is the only requirement for identity.
You might not think it’s not possible to have the soul of a wolf, or to have romantic feelings without wanting to be sexual, or to not ascribe to a gender. But guess what? People are really different! And sometimes that means others might identify as a furry, or as an aro, or as genderqueer!
Identity affects you less that a someone wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, identity is only communicated to you when an individual tells you, not how they dress or how they talk. So, just remember, only an individual can determine their identity, and that’s all the requirement you need! A safe(r) space is about not being judged for your identity.
Pronouns are important.
Safe(r) spaces are not just about feeling safe from verbal abuse, and bullying, it’s also about having people respect you. If someone expresses their pronouns, please use them!
It’s ok to forget if someone has told you their pronouns as long as you’re trying. If you do forget though, use them/they since most people are comfortable to have those neutral pronouns. If you do muck them up, no one’s going to be mad if you try correct yourself or just be respectful when someone reminds you. Remember that this place might be the only one in their life where people respect their gender-identity.
Don’t out anybody.
Gaymer X being a safe(r) space should bring home that other spaces are not safe. So remember, if you’ve met a new person with any kind of identity, ensure you have their permission before you mention that to others. That means absolutely no posting of photos or mentions on any social media without permission!
Trigger Warnings are important.
Think of it like this : If you’re in a super horrible motorcycle accident, you might not want to get onto a motorcycle for a bit. Sometimes people have experienced an awful thing, and talking about similar scenarios takes them back to the event, and freaks them out. Warnings aren’t there to stop a person confronting their trauma, trigger warnings are so victims can choose when and where to confront their anxiety. Also so that someone with trauma can enjoy other moments without their past trauma coming up.
Be sensible about it, no one expects you to warn about gore on a panel about horror games, but they might if it’s about collecting tiny kittens. As quick guide warn before talking about: rape, suicide, abuse and self injury.
Listen to feedback.
This is probably the most important tip. Even if you don’t agree to someone, listen politely to their feedback if you have made them feel unsafe. Spaces are made less safe by being aggressive. Remember that aggression is not just physical, it’s also verbal cues and body language.
Most importantly, don’t try and talk over them to defend yourself. Wait till they’re finished and have a civilized discussion. Even if you’re right, going about it the wrong way makes you a dick-head.
You are important! As much as everyone should be looking out for each other, there are some things that only you can do; stay hydrated, leave crowds if you’re feeling uncomfortable, consider asking people to gender you correctly, and most importantly make sure that you tell other people around you if things are going wrong. It’s better to get help before a panic attack than deal with the aftermath.
*Policies are sometimes referred to a ‘safe’ spaces, but as a nod to the fact that no one is ever truly safe I like to use the title safe(r) spaces.