Last year we posted Paizo Wishes Everyone a Happy Pride Month! in which we asked our staff and contributors to “share some of their experiences being nerdy and queer.” This year we have a fresh update!
Jim Butler, VP of Marketing and Licensing
Growing up in Wyoming in the 70s and 80s, Pride was a distant thing to me; something I’d see on the news a few times a year. When I joined TSR in 1994, I finally had the opportunity to attend Pride events in Milwaukee and Chicago and slowly start to understand more about who I was. Boystown in Chicago and Club 94 near Lake Geneva were glorious and electrifying, and I was like a wide-eyed kid marveling at every sight and sound.
I came out to friends and co-workers by chance after getting beaten up by my first boyfriend. I arrived at work shaking and angry, not realizing I had blood all over my face and arms. Lorraine Williams (TSR’s owner) and Carol Hubbard (head of HR) grabbed a first aid kit and gently patched me up as I explained how my roommate beat me up. My friends instantly knew something else. Sean Reynolds, David Eckelberry, and Dori Hein helped me through a pretty terrifying time and made coming out to the world easier through their acceptance and encouragement.
Weeks later TSR would be purchased by Wizards of the Coast and Peter Adkison, Lisa Stevens, and others ushered in a wild new work environment. Peter gathered the TSR crew together and explained the new working environment of WotC, with LGBTQIA+, Goth, Satanists, and more all working in harmony. “What if my religion doesn’t allow me to work with those people?” a TSR staffer asked. Without missing a beat, Peter said “Then you should definitely not accept the job offer to relocate to Seattle.” You could hear a pin drop…
Lisa Stevens has continued that positive work environment through Paizo, and as Pride shines forth again I look back on all that has happened in my life and see the steady march of progress. Happy Pride!
"Hi everyone! My name is Carlos Cabrera. I have freelanced for several third party publishers for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as with Paizo themselves. I am 37 years old, and I have been out as bisexual since my senior year of high school. Even before I achieved my goal of becoming a game designer, I had the honor of others in the gaming community not only welcome me, but follow in the footsteps of my coming out experience with experiences of their very own.
I have the Cape and Islands Gay Straight Youth Alliance (or CIGSYA House) to thank for providing me with a safe space when I didn't know I needed it. What I also didn't realize—until I was much older—was how large of an overlap these two communities really had. They are very much my people, and in more ways than one. I couldn't ask to be in a better crowd."
Sasha Laranoa Harving, Venture-Lieutenant and Contributor
she/her/hers/herself or nov/nov/novs/novself
“I think it's safe to say that RPGs have cracked my shell several times over. I've never played a male character, even before I really let myself know I wasn't a man. Starfinder's solarians gave me the grounds to explore my personal brand of nonbinary, and developing relationships bound beyond romance and rooted in a shared narrative showed me how, while I still experience it, it's not all there is.
I love my work and my community. I'm proud to throw my voice to the sky when I need to be heard. And for anyone questioning if you might want to explore who you could be through RPGs... I believe in you.”
“The first Pride was a riot. It was a screaming and violent stand against the forces of oppression that sought to impose conformity and silence. Those forces of oppression continue to fight us, continue to silence us, and continue working to enforce their will on us. But we will not be silent. We will not hide in the shadows. We are out. We are proud. We are celebrating who we are. The very act of public celebration is defiance against our oppressors. The very act of love we share builds up our communities. Every example of self expression shows the world that we will not fade away.
Pride is taking a stand for who we are, who we love, and making no apologies for it. Through celebration we win. Through self expression we win. Through love we win. The oppressed stand together against our oppressors, expressing our differences and embracing each other for it. The more we love ourselves, the more we support each other, and the more we remain true to who we are, the harder it is for the forces of oppression to succeed.
They lash out in violence against our peace. They scream slurs against our celebrations. They react with hate against our love. But that just means they will lose, for love conquers hate. But love doesn't mean we are meak. Love doesn't mean we are helpless. We too, can be violent. It's not what we want, but it's what we will do to survive. We will fight back. We will take a stand. We will maintain our way of life. Pride comes from love: from loving ourselves, from loving each other, from loving our communities. That does not mean we won't fight to defend that love. The first Pride was a riot.”
“I’m James Jacobs, Creative Director of Pathfinder, and last year I wrote about how playing RPGs over the years helped me realize I was bisexual. I also wrote, “Our world is scary, and that makes RPGs so important to me.” Here we are a year later, and the world has changed so much that it feels naive to have written those words only a dozen months ago. But that doesn’t change the fact that RPGs can remain an important way for us all to get together and game, share our experiences, and support each other, even if… ESPECIALLY if… we’re doing so virtually instead of in-person. Pride in ourselves and who we are is more important than ever—which is, I suppose, a way of saying it’s more important with each passing day. So give your friends hugs, do what you can to safely support your communities and to be secure, love and be loved, and hold your heads high!”
“As an undergraduate cultural anthropology student, I conducted the majority of my class research on issues of gender in gaming subcultures. During a project that aimed to ethnographically explore the experience of self-identified “girl gamers,” I was conducting an interview with a research participant in which we discussed her origins in gaming. She explained that she first started playing online pet-sites, in which she got so intensely competitive that she was setting alarms to wake up in the middle of the night to perform tasks in the game just for an extra edge. Part way though her explanation she asked, “Wait, does this count?”
Perplexed, I asked her, “Why wouldn’t that count?”
Her answer left a profound impact on me as an anthropologist and gamer: “Because mostly girls play those.”
I analyzed that statement a million ways, but I think it bothered me so much because I realized that a lot of the identity questions I was exploring in gender and gaming came down to that question: do we count? Getting to be a part of the gaming industry myself now, I constantly think of my own identity and all those individuals who talked to me about their experience in gaming subcultures. I hope to always be a part of projects that constantly reinforce that yes, you do count.”
Kendra Leigh Speedling
“Hi, everyone! I'm a freelance writer who's worked on Paizo projects for Pathfinder 1E, 2E, and Starfinder, including SFS #2-08: The Stumbling Society, Part 2: Sangoro's Gifts and a bunch of things that are still upcoming. I'm also bisexual and demisexual, and feel like I had an unorthodox journey to realizing both of those things. I didn't actually realize I was bi until well after I was in a happily committed monogamous relationship, and for awhile after that, I wasn't sure if I "counted" as part of the LGBTQ+ community as a cis bi woman partnered with a cis man.
Part of what helped was hearing from other bi people with similar experiences, which just goes to show why greater representation and visibility is so important. It's a scary time for so many people right now, and it can help to escape for a little while to another world less encumbered by the prejudices of ours. Seeing characters of numerous orientations and gender identities included in gaming products means a lot to me. It's a signal to the wider audience, especially those who might be queer or questioning themselves, that we exist, and we have stories too.”
Alex Speidel, Organized Play Associate
“I came to roleplaying games largely after I’d figured out my bisexuality, so for me gaming isn’t so much a story of discovery as it is one of getting to live out my fantasies of a world where I can truly be my best self. Literally no character I have ever created is both heterosexual and cisgender. I consider part of my responsibility at Paizo, with whatever platform this position gives me, to make sure our products aren’t just inclusive, but progressive.
I’m very lucky that I have a family who has always accepted me for who I am. I know many others don’t have that, and that we find our own families through these spaces. It’s important that we as a community continue to use our positions to affirm truths: that queer people are people, and they’re here, and they’re not obligated to hide; that trans lives matter and trans rights are human rights; and that coming out is neither the start nor end of someone’s journey.”
This year we have also Pride merch to support Tabletop Gaymers, a nonprofit organization whose mission is championing the visibility and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community through tabletop gaming. Five dollars from each Paizo Pride Golem pin and apparel item sold will go directly to Tabletop Gaymers.
Pride Pin — Paizo Golem
Show your pride, Paizo Golem style! This enamel pin made by Campaign Coins features a 40mm tall Paizo Golem in the Pride flag colors.
Paizo Golem Pride Apparel from OffWorld Designs
Show your Pride with bags, polos, hats, and more from our friends at OffWorld Designs.
Thank you for your patronage and for being a part of our incredible community.
Paizo Marketing and Media Manager
Wednesday, June 10, 2020