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Playing with Pride

Stories of queer people and the games that changed their lives.

For LGBT gamers, life can sometimes feel like a tug of war between two incompatible worlds. There are closeted LGBTs among geeks, and closeted geeks among LGBTs. For this project, we traveled the country, meeting gamers who stand where those worlds collide.

Hailing from a broad range of backgrounds, they share intimate stories of personal transformations, emotional breakthroughs, and otherworldly adventures that changed their lives. Their diverse experiences reveal a common struggle: to express their true selves and find a community where they feel at home.

On a drive across America, we meet folks like:

  • Carl: As an active-duty soldier during Don't Ask Don't Tell, he was forced to repress his feminine side until role-playing as female characters helped him step out of the closet and into drag. 
  • Jean: Concerned for her son, she transformed herself from a mild-mannered lesbian mom to the leader of an international band of heroic online warriors.
  • Ben: His geeky parents instilled in him a love for table-top games, but when he came out as gay, his family physically abused and abandoned him. Through the games he loved when he was small, he found a new family that welcomed him into their hearts.
  • Dave: After leaving a stifling religious community, he remade himself into a fearsome go-go dancing leather daddy, cosplaying as the video game heroes who gave him the strength to survive.

From one side of the country to the other, we meet over fifty people and families in their homes, exploring challenges they face navigating contradictory worlds and building links between them. They share stories of personal reinvention on-screen and in real life, of ongoing struggles to reconcile conflicting passions, and how overcoming challenges in imaginary worlds helped them confront problems that once seemed insurmountable.

These are stories not just about LGBT gamers — they’re about anyone ever caught between conflicting worlds.

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Matt Baume