I moved back to Seattle in 2010 after an eight year absence. I tried, then, to rejoin the social scenes I was familiar with, but something was missing. I rediscovered some old friends at familiar bars and clubs, but I didn’t want that to be the lynchpin of my social life. I used to be heavily involved in theatre and music, pursuing it as a career, but those interests had dwindled, and many of those friends had moved away anyhow.
Video games came to the rescue. I had recently re-discovered them as a hobby, and they had helped me escape from a relationship that wasn’t going well. At one point I lived close enough to Boston to attend my very first Penny Arcade Expo, where I met a number of amazing people at events designated for “gaymers,” the coined term for gay people who enjoy playing games. I even got my first social media marketing job out of it!
One of my first Seattle experiences was attending PAX West, where I found a similar gaymer gathering in Seattle, hosted by Charlie Logan. I met some new friends there, some of whom I’m still in touch with now. I also found a Meetup.com group, which hosted a weekly queer board game gathering, where I discovered my love for board games. I met a ton of new friends that way. But the Meetup group didn’t have any other regular events, so I thought it would be fun to host my own. My first meetup at Gameworks had 15-20 people and continued monthly, growing from there.
While some ways to meet fellow queer gamers already existed, none completely fit the bill for me. Benjamin Williams came up with the idea to combine organizer efforts under the name Queer Geek! Seattle. The Meetup and Facebook groups, the PAX event, Gameworks gatherings, and other events all became one entity. Our organizers worked together to create a vision for the group, each of us planning our own events using the Queer Geek banner to help market and amplify each other’s work as volunteer coordinators. And the rest is history.
We’ve continued to grow and change over the last seven years . The Meetup and Facebook groups have 2000-2500 members each. We host several events per month. We’ve expanded events around the area to Lynnwood and Interbay, in addition to Capitol Hill. The initial PAX gathering I went to has become the Pink Party with more than 600 attendees. We also have some great new organizers, such as Tifa Robles, founder of Lady Planeswalkers, Beca Servoss, a small business owner who recently purchased a geek-friendly coffee shop, the Wayward Coffeehouse, and John Cantrell-Blaine, a frequent Queer Geek board game attendee who had the idea to host events at Oaky’s/Batch 206.
What’s next? Queer Geek would love to do more events and be a resource for more people! We are all volunteers. We do as much as we can, but there’s plenty of room for growth. In fact, we have new venues excited to work with us, just waiting for us to come up with the right event idea and someone with the bandwidth to run something.
We want more organizers. We are always happy to host new events, which we can help market through our mailing list and social media channels. They could be existing events that we sponsor, or brand-new events, too. There’s not too much bureaucracy involved – the event must follow our code of conduct and primarily serve the queer community. It’s great when organizers have organizing experience, but we can definitely be a resource to help with that, too. We would especially love to diversify our organizers to help serve the entire queer community. We’re open to any queer organizers, but queer women, trans and gender non-binary people, and queer people of color would be particularly welcome additions. We also would love to continue expanding and add events on the Eastside, or other parts of the city or suburbs.
If you’re interested in helping out but don’t have the time or energy to organize, we do have occasional other volunteer needs, and always accept donations. While we’re not a nonprofit at this time, we’re definitely just covering costs at this point and do it solely through donations and out of our pockets.
Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of us. If so, welcome! Come check out an event or chat with folks in the Facebook group, and check out queergeekseattle.org to learn more about us and hope to see you at an event soon!