by LaTonya Pennington
One of my first thoughts when I came out to myself as gay was, “Am I the only QPOC who also happens to be a nerd?” Thanks to the new comedy webseries Gaymers, I’m finally starting to see I’m not alone. Created by New-York based director Artúr Prakapas and Toronto-based writer Ken Bernardo, the series features four gamers (one black gay man, one Latino gay man, one white lesbian, and one straight Latino guy) all living together and dealing with life.
I watched all four short episodes of this series last weekend, days after the Star Trek character Sulu was revealed to be gay in the upcoming film. Queer people of color have started to gain some ground in fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary settings, providing long-awaited validation for nerds like me. This can especially be seen in independently produced works like this web series and the queer comics anthology Beyond.
LGBTQ+ people have always been in nerd culture, but QPOC characters of color are hard to find and are rarely promoted. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Marvel comics missed the opportunity to show solidarity with its LGBTQ+ characters of color. There also haven’t been QPOC characters in any of Marvel or DC comics films or shows, which makes it difficult for non-comic book readers to discover them.
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Not only is queerness rarely discussed in nerd culture, but nerd culture is rarely discussed in queerness. Before the Gaymers webseries, the only QPOC nerd I saw on screen was the character Lionel Higgins from the satirical film Dear White People. Since the images of LGBTQ+ culture that get the most attention are usually gay bars, coming out stories, and tragedies, some even think LGBTQ+ nerds are rare. As a result, some LGBTQ+ nerds like me feel that they have to hide their nerd identity when around non-LGBTQ+ nerds.
The webseries Gaymers touches on this in episodes three and four. In episode three, Corey, one of the characters, goes on a date with a guy and is forced to tone down his gamer side after realizing his date isn’t a gamer. Corey then becomes anxious as he tries to make small talk and impress his date. Unfortunately, things go south and Corey is left lamenting on his single life in episode four. After telling his roommates what happened, Corey asks, “Why can’t I find a guy who is cute and likes video games?”
Corey’s anxiety as a gaymer is presented in humorous style reminiscent of the video-game inspired movie Scott Pilgrim VS The World. During his date, Corey’s thoughts are seen on screen as multiple choice statements that remind me of the visual novel mobile games. In episode four, the green plumbob from The Sims games appears over Corey’s head as he discusses his dating woes, turning red as he yells in frustration. While the gaming references are hilarious, the anxiety Corey feels is very real and can be prevented by acknowledging the various subcultures within the LGBTQ+ community.
As with any identity, it is important to realize that there is no one way to exist as an LGBTQ+ person. It is bad enough that mainstream media makes queerness and nerd culture seem only white, male, straight, and cisgender through the Gamergate movement and the lack of representation. We in the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t impose more limits from within. It also helps that there are spaces for LGBTQ+ nerds to exist, such as the gaming convention Gaymer X, the queer comic con FlameCon, and sites like Geeks Out!.
With four episodes so far, the webseries Gaymers is a welcome addition to the gaymer subculture and LGBTQ+ nerd subculture. Not only will the characters make you laugh, but they will make you value your friends and community. Gaymers shows that even though your interests might be weird to some, you still can have a good time with others like you.
Latonya Pennington is a queer freelance writer and blerd. She specializes in pop culture and entertainment and has written for Superselected magazine, The Mary Sue, Black Girl Nerds, and more. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on Twitter, streaming shows, listening to music, reading, and writing poetry.