You’ve had that moment. We all have. You walk into a store or start chatting with people about a particular fandom, but for whatever reason, you’re excluded. It feels awful, especially when you’re really passionate about your favorite topic.
It feels horrible when that happens – but imagine feeling that every day because you live in a state that protects businesses who would discriminate against your presence.
That’s how things are shaping up in Indiana, where bill SB101 would potentially “allow Indiana business owners to refuse service to customers based on their religious beliefs.” According to Fox News, opponents of the bill believe the bill offers businesses autonomy from overbearing government.
Gen Con issued a statement on Tues., signed by CEO/Owner Adrian Swartout, Swartout discusses the economic impact his convention has on Indianapolis and asks Gov. Pence to reconsider his position on this bill.
If Gen Con moves out of Indiana, it takes with it at least $50 million in revenue, a true boon to local businesses as well as sales taxes collected.
What Does This Mean for the LGBTQA+ Community?
My Facebook feed has been filled with LGBTQA+ friends and allies who are thankful for Gen Con’s stance. Moving the convention would surely take time and money, but the principle is far more valuable. With this statement, Swartout declares that Gen Con is an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for everyone – especially those who feel pressure, bullying, and skepticism in everyday life.
Shoshana Kessock, noted game designer, geek, and TGI contributor, said this: “As a game designer as well as a member of the LGBT community, I feel like Gen Con has set a precedent by using its voice to speak out against an unjust piece of legislature. They’re showing that they are not only concerned about the well-being of their attendees but that they aren’t willing to sit by without comment while SB 101 stands.”
What Does This Mean for Geek Culture?
Conventions have been going in this direction with various policies and larger companies have realized that inclusion is the way to sell products and make a better community.
Gen Con’s statement, however, means something different. They didn’t have to take a stand. They didn’t do this because they were worried about lawsuits or the bottom line – they did this because it was right and it serves their fans and customers.
This represents a dramatic shift in geek culture – one that many of us have been hoping to emerge for a long time. This isn’t a bunch of people fighting against a company or convention for them to make a change to include us.
This is them fighting for us.
What do you think about Gen Con’s letter to Gov. Pence? Let us know in the comments!