Geekery as a Safe Space

As a white, straight guy it’s hard for me to be sure about what I’m about to write. But I’m starting to think that geekdom – that space full of scifi shows, board games, comic books, and general nerdishness – might be turning into one of the safest spaces for a more diverse society to grow.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are problems. Shut Up & Sit Down have rightly called out certain board games on their representation of race and gender. The sad/rabid puppies showed a white male backlash in the realm of science fiction and fantasy literature. There are more genre blockbusters in which the lead actor is a white guy named Chris than there are ones with female or non-white leads. There’s still a lot to be done.

Having said that, progress is being made. The puppies have been soundly thwarted in their reactionary agenda around awards. Conventions such as Nine Worlds make huge efforts to be inclusive, down to giving participants a chance to display their pronoun preferences. One of the biggest and most prestigious LRPs out there places a strong emphasis on diversity and in-game gender equality.

Even as the reactionaries scream “social justice warrior” as a term of abuse*, forward thinkers are creating a safe and accommodating space. Every transgender person I know I know through this sphere. While they face struggles, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they all felt that they could be open in choosing the gender that suits them.

Geekdom is still associated with straight white guys. It’s going to take a while for people to get past that image and for a wider range of people to feel comfortable there. But I have high hopes. Because I like a lot of the people I’ve met who aren’t like me, and I want them to be able to share the awesome things I love.



* I’ve got to say, as insults go I find that one dumb. Since when is it insulting to say that someone fights for justice? And in society of all places?