I totally thought Jen and I weren’t going to make it PAX this year. The tix sold out almost immediately, and there was no way I was going to buy from scalpers.
But then, last week, Paul and Storm (amazing nerdy comedy music duo) tweeted that they needed volunteers for their merch table in exchange for free 4-day passes. I leapt at this opportunity like some crazy monkey and shortly both my wife and I were signed up! Woot!!
So! Today I had some extra time between work and rehearsal and swung by the convention center to pick up our badges… Only they wouldn’t give me my wife’s badge because I didn’t have proof that she is my wife (I took our dom. partner card out of my wallet when we became officially married).
They were like, “We need some kind of ID.” So I said, “I can show you our relationship status on FB, plus wedding photos. Will that work?” They said, “No.” So I asked if they hold straight married couples to they same scrutiny?
The gal behind the counter looked like a deer caught in headlights. Finally, carefully, she said, “Yes.”
Me, “You’d better; because I think you’re lying.”
Her, “I’m not.”
Her, “You’re just the first person I’ve had who’s tried to pick up their spouse’s badge.”
Here’s the thing, PAX has a bad reputation for not being LGBTQ-friendly; or even just female-friendly. There was a big controversy last year about some seriously anti-trans things that one of the founders said and as a result a bunch of indie game developers pulled out of the show. There was further trouble when the founders dug in their heels in response to backlash surrounding an anti-woman, pro-rape cartoon that one of them drew and posted on their site. They went so far as to sell t-shirts showcasing the cartoon, and encouraging male attendees to buy and wear them to the convention. It was seriously effed up, and totally juvenile.
Why on Earth would I still want to attend a convention rampant with such misogyny? Because I’m a gamer girl. I love games. Board games, video games, I love them. Just like I love comic books and nerdy pop-culture and attend conventions celebrating those things, I love to attend PAX because it celebrates games and gamers.
This experience at the registration desk was my first personal experience with any sort of LGBTQ ignorance at PAX. Even though they *said* that they held straight couples to the same scrutiny it was SO CLEARLY a lie. You had to be there, but trust me, they were lying.
It just really hurt and was really frustrating. I thought we were past this here in the PNW.
My wife and I are still going to attend, we made a promise to Paul and Storm to help out, and we’re keeping it. We’ll still have fun, still play lots of games, but this experience has clouded the fun with a filter of disappointment, and that really sucks.