Last week, EN ran an article talking about inclusiveness in LARP. Recent events, and some of the community’s response, leaves a message detailing how far we have to go.
At noon on June 8, Elsewhere Nightly posted an article about Dystopia Rising’s Gender Pronoun badges. By 2:00pm, My email was bombarded with response from our readers on our facebook page, twitter, and the comments section in support of the idea that we should be more inclusive in our hobby. I was particularly happy to see that this is the first article that was retweeted by the social medias of chapters from all three of the largest World of Dakness LARP organizations (MES, OWBN, and UT), independently of one another and with the same end goal: to promote inclusiveness and acceptance of our differences in the LARP community.
The idea isn’t new. Lars Nerback of Nordic Larp Org gave a great talk about inclusiveness among age ranges in LARP. If you’re not aware, Lars is deeply involved in community service and takes a firm stance on the ideas of diversity and social equality. He, like many, treats LARP as a tool for social commentary.
What is LARP, if not social commentary? LARP traces its roots to theatre in more than one way. Theatre, in turn, was a tool used by Athenians to promote education and politics among their people. Though none of these easrly plays have survivied, it is clear from historical record that theatre itself was a tool to teach and enlighten.
When people make the choice to roleplay a character, it more often than not fills a role they themselves want to fill. Characters are deeply entrenched in the ideas of how we see ourselves, and its theraputic effects in this way are still being studied to help people adapt to social situations and overcome problems. Most of all, in my experience, people join LARP groups to fit in and be a part of something greater than themselves.
The response to the DR article was not all positive. I received several emails, scathing comments, and messages on facebook from players who felt that transgender people who want to be called by a pronoun of their choosing is “forcing” ideas or opinions onto someone. Somehow, it seems, the idea that this guy Adam is playing a terrifying, murderous, werewolf built like a brick s#!thouse–despite Adam himself being a lanky 19-year-old who hasn’t lifted so much as a 2-lb. barbell in his life–is somehow harder to fathom than Nikki, a transwoman, wanting to be referred to as “she” in- and out- of character.
One reader wrote me an email telling me that LGBT people didn’t deserve that kind of respect, and that their struggle isn’t as real as “they make it out to be.”
I will be upfront and honest about this: I don’t care what my readers’ opinions on trans* people are. You have your opinions and I have mine; mine are personal. If, after you leave game, you would like to say whatever things you would like about the LGBT community outside of the context of our shared gaming experiences, then you do that and I won’t bat an eye. You get to have opinions and so do I. Huzzah.
What I do care about is whether you show respect to other people, regardless of their age, creed, race, or LGBT status. We are players who come to play a game and we ask for respect, both in and out of character. You are owed, and owe, your fellow players enough respect that they can feel accepted among their peers. That’s a MINIMUM.
On June 12, a terrorist entered a gay nightclub and killed 49 people and injured 53 others before being gunned down himself. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11, and the target was the LGBT community. It is an example of the fear that those in the gay and trans communities face as they pass through our weary world. It may be that you face similar fears due to your race, or your gender, or what have you–but this is an oppression and a fear that tangibly exists on this planet.
This is why I am asking something of you, dear readers of Elsewhere Nightly. I am asking that you reach out and show respect to your peers and recgnize that this is a problem in our world, and the least we can do is be above-average with each other. I highly suggest a donation to The Point Foundation, a nationally-acclaimed LGBT charity which is not only one of the best-run LGBT charities, but one of the most highly-rated charities in the United States.
It’s a well-known fact that the most common reason we LARP is to escape from the problems of our daily lives, and the horrible world around us. We fight the monsters in the dark to help us understand each other better and, hopefully, better defeat the monsters inside ourselves. Because I don’t know about you, but I think this world is a pretty terrible place…and that’s why I choose to be Elsewhere.
Yours Most Sincerely.
“Part Time Rogue”