Westboro Baptist Church to picket GaymerCon

First, the good news: GaymerCon, an inclusive gaming and tech convention focussing on LGBT geek culture, has been more than successfully funded via Kickstarter.

Then, the bad: Westboro Baptist Church (they of “God Hates Fags” notoriety) is threatening to picket the event, scheduled for August 2013 in San Francisco.

We’ll focus on the good, here. GaymerCon is designed to be all-inclusive (covering “Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Gender Queer and Bisexual folks” and everything in between), creating a safe, tolerant space in gaming.

GaymerCon is a play on the word Gaymer – and although we strongly believe in the Gaymer movement that is happening, we are committed to making sure that Gaymer is all inclusive of not just gays, but lesbians, trans, queer, females, males, straight, bi, and every color/creed of the queer and allied rainbow. Plus, LGBTQmerCon just didn’t have that same..oomnfngh! o_o

The Kickstarter project was launched last week, asking for a humble US$25,000 in pledges. That was 50% raised within 24 hours, and fully funded in four days. Now, it has nearly doubled the amount it was initially asking for, adding extra features and bonuses all over the place. There is a fabulous GaymerConcert in the works, and if the new stretch goal of US$60k is raised, gaymers are promised a “Celebrity Boss of Honor”.

It’s difficult to see (and at the same time, glaringly obvious) why this celebration of diversity, community and video games should be targeted by the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church and the Phelps family.

Rebekah Phelps-Roper, niece of founder Fred Phelps, took to Twitter to announce the church’s intentions:

What we’ve all been longing for: a fag-focused gaming convention! #MustPicket

The announcement was coupled with a video featuring Charles Hockenbarger, who scoffs:

We need yet another area of life where fag filth is intentionally called out and crammed down our throats?

Note: This video contains offensive content, watch at your own discretion.

Westboro Baptist Church believes that every tragedy in the world is somehow linked to homosexuality (or the world’s acceptance of “the homosexual agenda”). It has a long, colourful history of picketing and protesting at an assortment of events – funerals of military personnel, celebrities and children, retailers, other churches, and any event that the church deems “inappropriate” or promoting homosexuality. This isn’t the first time that gaming or geek-themed events have been targeted, Westboro also made an appearance at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego.

In recent times, despite the church holding protests in various locations every day of the year (and spending upwards of a reported $200,000 a year on picketing and protests), it has become well-known for not attending events it has threatened to picket, such as the funerals of Steve Jobs and Whitney Houston.

Charles Hockenbarger sarcastically snarls:

Just what we’ve all been waiting for: a fag-focused gaming convention!

…based on the nearly 1,000 backers GaymerCon has gathered so far on Kickstarter, we’d say that yes, this is definitely something people have been waiting for.

Pledge rewards start at just US$1, which will get your name on a “Thank you page”, all the way up to limited edition “64-Bit Sponsorship” for US$7,500 which will get you all sorts of promotional materials, a booth or table at the event, banner space, ten passes to the event, swag, and other bits and pieces.

If you just want to go to GaymerCon, pledge US$30 (or more) and you’ll pick up a two-day badge to the event, plus a pack of stickers! Want to know more? Head to the official GaymerCon Kickstarter page, read up, and pledge away!

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