June is Pride Month, a time for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate their lives, their struggles, and their identities. It’s also a time to remind ourselves and those around us that the fight for equality is not over. The first Pride celebrations were inspired by the Stonewall riots, a six-day riot against police brutality, led by community leaders including Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman.
Pride is important because LGBTQ+ individuals do not have equality in any country. The Human Rights Watch reports that 69 countries have national laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults. At least nine countries have laws criminalizing “forms of gender expression that target transgender and gender nonconforming people,” and many more countries don’t need to pass laws to ensure their police forces and militaries do the work of suppressing LGBTQ+ lives. Worldwide, gay, trans and non-conforming individuals face legal and illegal discrimination, abuse, and hatred. There are places in this world I will not travel with my fiancé because I am worried we will face physical and verbal abuse, and some of those places are within driving distance of where I live. Here in America, my rights are debated on a daily basis in local, state and federal court.
My fellow contributors to this blog and I are lucky that many of us live in a country that will not arrest us, directly, in most places, for our sexuality or gender. We are lucky that Paizo is a company that does not discourage us from expressing ourselves in our personal lives, and that permits us to create beautiful and diverse worlds that represent the world as we would like to see it. But we are lucky, and every gamer knows that sometimes the dice run hot, and sometimes you roll a 1. None of that is guaranteed to us, and it could be taken away in moments - or slowly, over four years.
I started with the depressing stuff not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t want it to get lost. But that’s not all of what Pride is. Pride is also about joy in who we are, and in our community. It’s about gathering and celebrating our lives, the freedoms we have fought to achieve, and to remind ourselves that it is all worth it.
For this year’s Pride blog, I asked our staffers and contributors to tell us about something they’re proud of from the past year. I told them that it didn’t have to be gaming related; that, in fact, this was a chance to use the platform we’re lucky to have to shout out the things that don’t get attention. I’d like to thank them all for sharing themselves with me and with the Paizo community.
Organized Play Associate
Alexander Augunas, Paizo Freelancer
I'm Alexander Augunas! I'm the Know Direction Network's Everyman Gamer, publisher of Everybody Games, and a freelancer for Paizo Inc. This past year has been a crazy year for us all, but I like to think that I did some good work during the chaos and confusion of the global shutdown. In Lost Omens: Legends, I presented Golarion's most powerful sorceress, Hao Jin (set to appear in the upcoming Fists of the Ruby Phoenix Adventure Path) as an asexual woman whose experiences with asexuality I personally identify with, a prospect that I felt was one of the most deeply empowering and important RPG articles I have ever written. Second only, perhaps, to The Rot in RPGs, a blog article I did for the Know Direction Network where I analyzed how systemic racism has impacted tabletop RPGs and offered some suggestions on what we as a community should do to combat it. It's a deeply researched piece that I wrote in response to the murder of George Floyd, and it's an article I hope inspires gamers to keep doing better as a community for those who are marginalized. Because I truly believe that if we try, we can change. Games have that kind of power, and I firmly believe that as creators we have the responsibility to use our power to better the world we've inherited.
Sonja Morris (she/her), Managing Art Director
On June 15th, my wife and I celebrated 19 years of marriage (21 years of being together), of which I am very proud.
Carlos Cabrera, Paizo Freelancer
The thing I am most proud of this year is somehow finding a better work and life balance over the course of it. I know this time has been hard for so many of us, but what I discovered about myself getting through it is where my healthier boundaries are and how to lay them down more confidently. When my pandemic fatigue set in, I signed up for the Moderna trial. When I had to make big, life-altering changes at home, I found a place where I can still be a part of my incredible 4 year old's life.
I am proud I was able to do all of that on my own terms. Creatively, this has led me down new paths of freelancing. I have a coming project I can't wait to tell people more about—my first ever built and pitched privately with the help of a new friend. I am also planning a return to voice acting. There is a lot to look forward to, but you know what also helped a great deal? My partners of more than one gender who made it a point (in a pandemic!) to be in my company.
Hao Jin, artist Gabriela Marchioro
Shay Snow (they/them), Paizo Freelancer
I’m super proud that I’ve pushed myself this year to accept projects that I would normally shy away from. I’ve spent a long time turning things down because of a deep fear of being under qualified or just the belief that I wouldn’t be good enough when compared to other people who came before me. This year has been a rollercoaster ride, but I can look back at it and actively point out my victories and places where I’ve excelled and grown as a person. My partner, my friends, and I have watched me break out of my comfort zone and restore my self-confidence in not just my writing and editing skills, but also in myself and my ability to handle large projects. I look forward to another year of accepting things and showing not just other people, but showing myself that I can handle anything thrown my way.
James Jacobs, Pathfinder Creative Director
Writing adventures about ghosts and cultists and things that go bump in the night has long been something I’ve enjoyed, but with Malevolence, an adventure I ran for several folks here at the office last year before writing it up as a standalone adventure for Pathfinder, I finally got to create that haunted house adventure I’ve been eager to write. Several of the spooky, creepy events and encounters that I inflicted on my players made it into the adventure, along with a few that I had planned but they never reached and a few more that I made up specifically for the adventure. The in-depth mechanics for how players can unravel the manor’s mystery by researching, investigating, and interpreting haunted dreams is one of my favorite parts of the adventure, and I can’t mention the other favorite part without spoiling something big. Still, it’s exciting to get Malevolence out into the world after it spent a few extra months in shipping delay hell, and I hope it does as good a job providing your group with a bit of escape from the horrors of the past year as it did for me to write it.
Amber Stewart (she/her), Paizo Freelancer
It has been a really awesome year for me, and I’m super proud of not only having my first AP entry released with Ruins of the Radiant Siege (in which I’m thrilled to have included an explicitly trans NPC Il’setsya Wyrmtouched) but for also finally, FINALLY finishing with school and receiving my doctorate (Doctor of Pharmacy). I hope that this next year can be just as great and even more productive!
Dr Monsylkis artist Graey Erb
Kendra Leigh Speedling (she/her), Paizo Freelancer
Hey, all! I'm bi and demisexual, and I've been freelancing for Paizo for a few years. It's been a tough year, globally speaking, but I hit a few personal milestones that I'm proud of, the release of my first AP volume (The White Glove Affair) being one of them. What I'm focusing on here, though, is a little more mundane: I've been talking to people.
I'm not a very outgoing person, which has always made networking intimidating to me. I'd talked to people off and on at PaizoCon, but until recently, I hadn't really gotten to know anyone in the freelancing community too well. With the con's shift to being online, though, I was more comfortable casually chatting. After that, staying in touch with other freelancers seemed to flow naturally, and before I knew it, I was in a community of talented writers and fun people, some of whom I now count as friends as well as colleagues. I look forward to meeting them once in-person cons are safe again! And...well, maybe you'll see me hanging out at the hotel bar next PaizoCon. I promise not to flee if you come say hi. :-)
Dana Ebert (she/her), Paizo Freelancer
Hi there, I’m a Paizo freelancer and am proudly BIPOC, queer, and transgender! I do other things as well, including professional GMing and voice acting. Without a doubt, my proudest accomplishment this past year was nailing my first freelancing assignment with Paizo. It’s no secret that the book in question is Pathfinder Lost Omens: The Grand Bazaar, and while I can’t spoil any of its content, I think I can share that in the end I was able to write something deeply personal that I hope will resonate just as powerfully with other people who share similar experiences. In fact, I’m definitely going to be talking about it on Twitter once the book is released, so if that sounds interesting then you can follow me there at @MistressDanaRPG. Until next time, endless love and support for each and every one of you who help to make our community a more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming place!
Dustin Knight (he/him), Paizo Freelancer
The word I've used to describe this last year has been surreal. I'd repeat again and again: survive, not thrive. And yet, I struggled every day to do something I could be proud of, even if it meant fighting to convince myself that I deserved to rest. But even as I write this, I find myself pondering what it means to feel pride. It's tempting to drop names and links in some hackneyed attempt to avoid today's undertaking, but it's one I've avoided for too many years. Today I'm proud to publicly identify as asexual.
And yet, I can't help but feel like I'm still avoiding the prompt. So I've got to admit what I'm most proud of this surreal year has been my career. I've passed so many milestones it's hard to believe any of this is real. Most surreal of all was having aced the Paizo design test last fall. Proving myself in that capacity and then getting my first hardcover book assignment has been a validating experience unlike any other. So many friends have helped me on this journey, and this year I hope I've made them proud. Thank you, my dear friends. And thank you, Paizo.
Paizo Pride 2021
Thursday, 24 June, 2021