Interview: HOUSTON GAYMERS
By: Eric Kinkead
Photos courtesy of Houston Gaymers and Keven Alvarado
Being a gamer can often be a very introverted and lonely hobby. With the Internet keeping everyone ‘socially’ connected, one would think that the online gaming community would turn into a utopia for all types of gamers, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. Unfortunately, respect has often not shown up to play. With the mask of anonymity, countless racial, gender, and sexually-biased insults are constantly hurled at people randomly. The once playful chiding expected in competition has been transformed into a mix of an innocent schoolyard playground and a recreation room for Nazi concentration camp guards.
However, many gamers have carried gaming into their adult lives and like many adults they understand the importance of civility and acceptance. Most importantly they understand the point of a game is to have fun. Where is one to go in Houston that wants to engage in what games are all about? Where is the fun? Like much of the good in the world, it is sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. Luckily for us, such a group not only exists but is growing, and growing strong.
Eric Hulsey is the president and an original founder of Houston Gaymers, a group that “strives to bring together the SGLBT gaming community through our online community and monthly meetups.” Free Press Houston had a chance to ask Eric a few questions about his group and what they are all about.
How did Houston Gaymers come into being?
Houston Gaymers started as an idea discussed at dinner between five new friends. We all had videogame interests and asked ourselves why it was so hard to find others with the same interests. Our conclusion was that there just wasn’t a group or event that would even bring them all together and so we discussed starting one. We started a (Facebook) group page and set our first meetup event with one of my friends, J.R. Cohen, at Coffee Groundz. We had no idea that the first meetup would do so well and have so many people show up—it was then that we realized this was needed in the community.
The Houston Gaymers’ website seems to imply an importance of including straight people into the Houston Gaymers organization. Was this the goal from the beginning? Can you explain more on that purpose?
I would say that making our events and group open to everyone was always our goal with Gaymers. We started Gaymers in Midtown at a coffee shop/bar that was not located in Montrose because we wanted anyone attending to be able to come and play games comfortably without having to disclose or make a statement about their sexuality. Gamers in general are more introverted in their personalities and sometimes so is being gay. By picking neutral locations, everyone can feel more open to be who they want to be. There is also the goal and message that there are Gaymers who do play games and we are not few. When people use slanderous terms or comments over their chats in games, I like to hope that if anyone attends one of our events, they would see those that are hurt by them and help us shape a better gaming world.
What should a straight person come to expect when attending a Houston Gaymers event or being involved with the Houston Gaymers community?
One can expect plenty of welcoming Gaymers and games to play. We have projector Rock Band with hundreds of songs, a zone for Dance Central, several smaller stations of fighting games, drink specials and our monthly food truck guests. When someone new attends, we try to direct them to grab a name badge and go grab a controller to play. Over the past years we have found so many members that have bonded over a game and created a new friendship at our events—even some that went on to get married.
We also started a tournament event every quarter with our first one being very successful in September. Our next one is looking to be in December. We select whichever game we think will get the most action or which is requested the most and set it up. With prize sponsors and having it hosted at a video lounge, we think these will become very big in the coming year.
One more recent event, held on November 8th, was our very first Retro Movie Night with Houston Gaymers hosted at Domy. We showed the movie The Wizard and had retro consoles scattered throughout the event. We hope to have that continue to be a quarterly event as well.
How can one get involved with helping out Houston Gaymers?
As far as becoming an active volunteer with Houston Gaymers, it is always best to just approach me or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have several volunteer subcommittees that help Lee Longoria and I make these events run smoothly and efficiently. We also have people who help by bringing equipment to meetups. All of the equipment is volunteer equipment and has been from the beginning.
For more information visit: www.houstongaymers.com