[AW/MH] Tell me about your queer content!

edited June 2013 in Story Games
Okay, in the middle of an Apocalypse World campaign. I'm getting better every session at MCing, but I'm still a bit unsatisfied at how conservative it is sexually. Okay, conservative in the sense that there's only straight, lesbian and gay sex. But there's lots of it and it's quite explicit. Probably it's better to say it's a bit conservative gender-wise. In AW terms, I'm a bit unsure how to describe and handle NPCs whose gender might be described as ambiguous, transgressing, concealed, or androgyne.

Of course it's easy to say that someone looks androgynous or that it's hard to say - but that's kind of telling, not showing. Do concealed characters try their best to be asexual and actually avoid sexual contact? Or is there something that concealed sex/gender NPCs might do sexually that I'm not thinking of?

I'm interested in your experiences!

Comments

  • edited June 2013
    (I'll share some examples from my own games soon, but in the meantime...)

    Here are some helpful Principles:
    Don't always tie gender to sex.
    Don't always tie gender expression to gender identity.
    Barf forth apocalyptica.


    Don't always tie gender to sex.
    Sex and gender are different things. This is true in the real world. Make it even more visibly true in Apocalypse World. Your sex (a biological amalgam of genitals, chromosomes, and maybe other physiological characteristics) doesn't determine your gender (your acculturated sense of masculine, feminine, and where you fit in relation to them).
    So have a husky, broad-shouldered Gunlugger with grizzly facial stubble who wears the blood of those she kills for lipstick, who spraypaints "Murder Girl" on the back of her shit-heap jeep, and who lacks social tact to the point where she scratches her balls in public all the time.

    Have Dremmer be this female-bodied person who switches between identifying as a man or woman depending on whether they're wearing their Hocus mask or not. Make it clear that this person has two very distinct and wholly-developed gender identities that they move between based on function and status.
    Don't always tie gender expression to gender identity
    Your gender expression (what you wear and demonstrate) doesn't always reflect your gender identity (what you feel and know about yourself). Maybe this is because it isn't safe to express your true identity, maybe it's because the work you do prevents you from doing it for practical reasons, maybe because it's outside your means. Sometimes, have people say surprising things about themselves that it'd be nigh-impossible to "read" by looking at them. Speaking of reading, return complicated and nuanced answers about gender and identity whenever read a person gives you the opportunity to do so.
    While that Gunlugger I mentioned earlier is safe to dress however the fuck she feels (because she's got big guns and big muscles), our Operator hides their inner femme. Since they deal with gnarly bikers and wary strangers at lonely crossroads, anything other than a cisgendered heternormative male presentation is a dangerous approach that could cost them their life. But they're always bartering for cute ornamentations and rare silks - items they bury in caches around the edge of the village.

    Luma dressed in rugged burlap clothes (ill-fitting) six days out of the week. She tills fields, and any other clothing choice would be a waste of good fabrics. But on Tuesdays, she retreats to "The Den" (that's what folks call it), pours a weekly bath, and then coccoons herself in silk. Like, actually constructs a makeshift coccoon and snuggles up inside it. Folks can come wiggle their way in there with her - she's soft and naked and clean and smells nice. The other six days, she's grubby as fuck, and nobody's allowed to touch her. She's a workhorse most days, a gentle caterpillar the last.
    Barf Forth Apocalyptica
    Mutations. Strange clothing that's never been seen before. Sex acts that are no longer treated as sex acts. Everyday things in our world that are now treated as rare and taboo sex acts in theirs. Inviting the psychic maelstrom into your masturbation. Dick augury. More mutations. People fucking the unlikeliest of people. New kinks. New standards of beauty. Contradictory and unstable standards of beauty.
    Gemini can't get off without the assistance of a ghost.

    Absinthe has a strange flower-penis that started emerging shortly after she returned from the Rag Wastes. She's scared of it. She's tried cutting it off but it keeps growing back. She's got lots of regular and irregular sexual partners, and that means having to navigate a new definition for sex, and adopting a new relationship to her body as a sexual thing.

    Like I said a minute ago: dick augury.
    Oh yeah, and: if you want queer sex in your games, don't limit your definition of sex to intercourse. Get weird.
  • I played in an AW game where a friend played an androgynous battlebabe named Snow. She avoided sexual and romantic entanglements altogether.

    I ran an AW game, singleshot, where there was virginity lost (touchingly) in cis fashion. I ran a short series of games where there was a bit of het sex. Mind you, many of the players in both the singleshot and the series are bisexual.
  • edited June 2013
    My players are wholly uninterested in sex among PCs and NPCs, but I feel like it's a waste to not explicitly point out NPCs' queerness in a game that actually acknowledges a broader spectrum of identity. I am generally pretty subtle about it, though, I suppose. Like, for instance, I introduced Three as a woman (or a man? I forget), but one of my players used the opposite pronoun by accident, so I ran with it. Three now self-reassigns gender on a whim and expresses this through attire, and is powerful enough in the holding to demand that people watch which pronouns they use on any given day. Some of our other NPCs are entirely gender neutral, but that's easy enough to get away with in a setting where people might wear flowing robes and face-concealing gas masks.

    Given that we are a group of straight/cisgender gamers, I am sometimes sensitive about using gender and sexual identity to cast some people as "other" in a problematic way. Mostly, though, just about everybody in the game is pretty fucked up somehow, and I just want us to paint a picture of a world in which everybody feels unique and real, whatever that means for them.
  • Joe. You're gold. That's exactly what I was looking for, but in a more refined way than I could've hoped for. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to more of that stuff.

    Jason, the theme of representing "the other" has been an obstacle for me, too. We're all straight/cisgender guys, and I've been a bit at sea about this.

  • We're all straight/cisgender guys, and I've been a bit at sea about this.
    Don't sell yourselves short.

    Being queer isn't a special club. It's a recognition that everyone (no fucking exceptions) is already a weirdo. Being queer is simply getting queer. It's a recognition of the always already weirdness of sexual being.

    Like Joe says, let's get weird.

    And let me tell you, if you're really purely straight cis whitebread vanilla ice cream or whatever, then mans, that's pretty fucking weird too. Cause I don't think I've ever met that person.
  • To be honest, I only learned the word "cisgender" in this thread, so don't take me too seriously on that matter. I consider myself straight in that I haven't had sex with guys and I don't feel the inclination to (at least for now), but when I was younger, I've worn eye makeup, kissed guys etc., and I'm definitely interested in queer theory and all that.

    But I can't speak for the other guys. They tend to deal with the sexual matter with more humour than I'd like to. The reason I've been at sea (I'm sorry if I use idioms like an idiot foreigner that I am :)) is that I'd like to introduce queer (and sexual) content as not funny. But normal. Like in "everyone's queer". And I'd like more subtlety to it. Until now, mostly it's been "everyone's fucking whomever they damn well please except The Quarantine who's in shock".

    As MC, I was initially going more for more real-life sexual relations but without the heteronormative matrix; the players quickly took it to the direction of "depraved, perverse debauchery" - starting with the Hardholder's decision of what his holding's like. So I've played ball.
  • Wow! What a great thread.

    Joe, your post is full of serious inspiration. Will be thinking about it for a while!
  • Halski,

    It's always a solid move to mention your hopes to the other players, in a friendly tone, before starting to play. If you eat dinner together before playing, just pause between pizza slices or ravioli forkfuls and say, "Hey, I'm hopeful that the game will include lots of queer sexuality and unprecedented genders. And not, like, as a funny thing, but as a big theme. Apocalypse World is a world without status quos, and that's a status quo that I'd like to earnestly dismantle in game."

    Maybe they bite. Maybe they don't.

    Remember that you're only one player out of a whole table. Their goals are (probably) equally valid - and so if everyone else is excited about lighthearted debauchery carnival, maybe the best move is to cede your hopes of a more critical and deconstructive approach, and just embrace the lighthearted debauchery carnival. As long as you're being fair and authentic with the characters, it's all legit. It's fine to be giggly about narrating hot gay apocalypse sex, especially if they are nervous giggles, just so long as gay sex and gay people aren't put at the cruel end of a joke.

    So, yeah: talk to your players directly and briefly about your goals around sexuality in play. Be open to their goals being just as valid as yours. Recognize that you could do a lot worse than lighthearted debauchery carnival, so long as you're not collectively laughing at othered characters.

    And honestly, if you've already got kink, gay sex, lesbian sex, people having sex freely, and a single character who's reeling from exposure to this new world... you're doing pretty damn good. That's a spectrum of juicy sexual situations. I get that you're looking for a deeper examination, and am super excited about that idea, but if the other players don't bite it's good to recognize how awesome y'all are doing already.
  • examples said:

    While that Gunlugger I mentioned earlier is safe to dress however the fuck she feels (because she's got big guns and big muscles), our Operator hides their inner femme. Since they deal with gnarly bikers and wary strangers at lonely crossroads, anything other than a cisgendered heternormative male presentation is a dangerous approach that could cost them their life. But they're always bartering for cute ornamentations and rare silks - items they bury in caches around the edge of the village.
    So, I often do this in my one-shots of Monsterhearts. I'll have a football player who is the stereotypical hyper jock, picking on other people. But he's actually interested in men, just performing aggression and culturally acceptable gender roles for the rest of his cohort and the small town oppression he lives in. Characters can deal with that in interesting ways once they start interacting with him. This is about gender and sexuality presentation, and an invitation for PCs to start making things more than they appear, and engage in queer romance. This is a bit adjacent to your main point (concealed and ambiguous) but a similar type situation you might be able to hack for AW.

    The other thing is don't just focus on the description of how queer characters look or identify, also show examples of them interacting with other NPCs or PCs, and what these characters find attractive. So that like, encourages more interaction right, and not just description. I really like this example for this:
    examples said:

    Gemini can't get off without the assistance of a ghost.
    It's a call to action. That NPC needs to find a ghost. A PC could be a ghost. Stuff like that, to get the interactions rolling.

    So relating to your question:
    Of course it's easy to say that someone looks androgynous or that it's hard to say - but that's kind of telling, not showing. Do concealed characters try their best to be asexual and actually avoid sexual contact? Or is there something that concealed sex/gender NPCs might do sexually that I'm not thinking of?
    If NPCs are concealed in most situations, make sure to get them alone with PCs where their concealment can be "outed". With my jock example again, he's just an ass until there's a private shared moment in the locker room, or a confession in the principle's office, or until someone tries to manipulate him and on a 7-9 they get to find out what he really wants. Stuff like that.
  • ok, first i just have to say, EEEEEEEEEE this thread! hooray!

    sexuality actually doesn't come up a lot in my group's gaming. but gender does! a ciswoman friend of mine (let's call her Vee) made a Brainer pc, Boo, for a game i was MCing, and decided her character was going to be ambiguously gendered. i asked if she knew her character's actual gender and/or sex, and she said she did but she didn't want us to know. here and there in play an npc would inquire about Boo the Brainer's gender, and Boo would ignore or refuse the question every time. i never did this try to stop Vee from doing what she wanted to do with her character, but simply to bring that facet of the character into the foreground and see what Vee would do with it.

    now, in our hero wars game, Vee is playing a shaman named Cigua. i asked what Cigua's gender was (for pronoun reference during narration), and she explained that Cigua is a man's name. She then described the shaman's long black beard in some detail, and she is way more proactive with this character than any of her previous ones. It's some kinda combination of her gaining experience as a player and her having fun playing around with gender/roles.

    i on the other hand used to always go to AW or one of its spinoffs as a way of dealing with dysphoria, pre-transition (i'm mid-transition now). i had the best time ever playing a shield maiden in Jason's Camp Nerdly game of Sagas of the Icelanders last year; that game gave me all the gender feels, whew.

    i've played a couple of dungeon crawl games (including an excellent two or three sessions in Buddha's game), but most of the gaming i've done mid-transition has been GMing things. now that i'm living full-time, it'd be really interesting to play in a game where nobody knew i was trans.
  • Yeah, I really should talk more about my wishes to the players. But at this point in the campaign, the mood is pretty much set. And it's turned out to be pretty damn good. I'm glad that things are as sexual as they are, although next time I'd like to see more tension and less cum (okay, there's only been one facial - Faceless to Hardholder).

    All the sessions have been pretty different mood-wise. The first two were the most explicit, and now that the ice has been broken, I think it's easier to play out more intense scenes and different kinds of expressing sexuality and gender. The debauchery is lighthearted at times, deligthfully absurd at others - especially now that the Quarantine is witnessing all these people dressed in Elvis costumes, calling themselves Kings, talking to their radios and having sex at weird times in weird places.

    anansigirl, I hadn't thought about PC-NPC-triangles from a gender POV. That's a great way to do it! I'd got stuck to this "okay, this guy's a bit feminine, this girl's all butch, that woman is a barn door", and I felt like I could do something more. That's just it.
  • edited June 2013
    Not examples from my games, but great examples to be inspired by:

    For Monster Hearts someone must rip Gabriel from Constantine as s/he is an excellent example of an androgynous character that I would totally bang.

    Speaking of Tilda Swinton.... Orlando is also an extremely cool example of a transgression character, and Orlando gender mysteriously identity shifts as the character evolves, who has sex as both genders.

    We can also look to The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin, as we have an entire human race that is assexual and ungendered for most of the time except when they are in heat and can take any gender.

    Concealed is even easier. Have someone who always dressed in a gas-mask and other protective gear hit hit on the characters. http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Gas-mask-Wallpaper-158878041 I would bang that.
  • edited June 2013
    This mildly off topic first off. So my apologies for that.

    When reading the Queer Content section of Monsterhearts it felt weird to me and I couldn't put my finger on why until I started reading this thread. Then it struck me. It felt weird having a section telling me to put something in my games that is already there and has pretty much always been there.

    To give you an idea of where come from in the gaming and sexuality department. I have been rping for 23 years. Primarily traditional model games. D&D and such. Most of my gaming has been traditional groups and store games. And I am as straight as it comes. Most of us were. And the queer content was always there.

    My first instance of such content in a game happened when I was 12. I was playing a lesbian sorceress who was actually a giant locked into a human size - lots of body issues with that one. My friend was playing the bisexual rogue. His sister is playing an elf who was only attracted to orcs. Gender wasn't an issue there. And the one actually gay guy at the table played the straight guy. None of it was played for laughs except for a few scenes with the orc fetishist.

    But since then I have played and seen played every form of straight/lesbian/bi/one technically bestiality based relationship/one long term relationship with something that can only be described as a jellyfish made out of light, hunted a pedophile vampire, dealt with issues of rape in game, played androgynous characters, one sadomasochistic werearmadillo with silver nipple piercings (not necessarily played seriously), and at least one character who was a shapeshifter that I never decided what gender they had been originally because they could change at will.

    And none of this was seen as unusual except for the relationship with the jellyfish and the pseudo-bestiality based one. Which the people in the campaign reacted to. The players just thought they were fun. So my question is the following and it is an honest question because my experiences may have simply been different from the norm:

    Is this kind of content really so rare that it needs a special push to bring it up in games?
  • @deadmanshand Yea I think it's pretty rare. Most games I've played didn't have Queer content, or if they did, it wasn't part of the game as written, but rather just something the players took it upon themselves to do.
  • Is this kind of content really so rare that it needs a special push to bring it up in games?
    Yes.

    Your group is an impossible pond amidst the desert of cisnormativity and heteronormativity. Lots of groups are already super timid about approaching sexuality, and so when they do approach it, it's very het and very regressive. Queer Content was a section that needed to be included. Doubly so because the teen monster sex drama genre tends to be very heteronormative, and very focused on young women with very little agency. And so I wanted to recalibrate genre expectations.

    But there are lots of folks for whom Queer Content was going to be old news. Like yourself. Similarly, there are lots of folks for whom the MC Principles were going to be old news. It's stuff they were doing already. That's fine. Like Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts codifies a lot of things that we were sort-of stumbling through already.
  • Yes.

    And it's awesome that this is old news for you.
  • Oh yes, I second Gabriel from Constantine, Orlando, and Tilda Swinton.
  • Yes, I've noticed it's rare.

    I first tried to approach these things in Shadowrun, back in 1998 or so. One NPC merchant sold some sort of recorded experiences, where you can experience world through other people's eyes. Okay, I was 17 and it was lesbian sex he was offering, but still! The players, all guys, didn't want anything to do with it.

    In Unknown Armies there's an archetype called the Mystic Hermaphrodite. It's sort of the unity of opposites kind of thing, which you can channel by embracing opposites. It always interested me as the GM, but again, the players didn't want anything to do with it. Of course there were some sexual themes in the campaign (for those who know the game, there's lots of it going around), but never front and center.

    Those were pretty much my experiences with gender issues in RPGs before Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts. The only thing in between that originated from a player was a Cthulhu campaign where one of the women wanted to play a male. Mostly the players I know want to play the same sex they are. (One Cthulhu oneshot had a gay character, too. Oh yeah, and I GM'd Poison'd which got ugly sexually.)
  • I honestly had no idea that genderbending characters (as in different gender than the player) was something uncommon until I started to read RPG blogs and forums. I always played men, right from the start, and many of the people I play with genderbend as well (men and women) and no-one ever questioned it.

    The one thing that completely puts me off queer content is when the character is queer first and a person only as an afterthought. I've known players and GMs to do that and it always gets on my nerve because it denies characters their personality. So please don't go there. Make queer characters, but don't connect each and every thing they do with their sexuality/gender.
  • I've noticed that women play men more often than the other way around. Some of them have thought that growing up and watching and reading adventure stories forces you to identify with a protagonist of the different gender, and not in a sexual manner.

    And as regards "do we need queer content spelled out", I'd like to add that as most of the RPGs, tv shows, movies and books repeatedly do not have people that are also queer (instead of not-queers or queers first, people second), I'm grateful for all the reminders that I don't have to do it their way.
  • The one thing that completely puts me off queer content is when the character is queer first and a person only as an afterthought. I've known players and GMs to do that and it always gets on my nerve because it denies characters their personality. So please don't go there. Make queer characters, but don't connect each and every thing they do with their sexuality/gender.
    One of the things I write in the Queer Content section of Monsterhearts is: "If you’re the MC, introduce queer characters, and make them fundamentally different from one another. Let their sexuality and gender be incidental in some cases, and let it be the chaotic thing that drives the story forward in others."

    And part of what I was trying to say when I wrote that is: for some queer characters, let their queerness be their trait that's the most prominent and that drives their character forward. For other queer characters, let their queerness be super incidental, mentioned in passing. Have both. Have points in between.
  • And part of what I was trying to say when I wrote that is: for some queer characters, let their queerness be their trait that's the most prominent and that drives their character forward. For other queer characters, let their queerness be super incidental, mentioned in passing. Have both. Have points in between.
    Which is awesome. I'm perfectly fine with characters who are driven by their gender/sexuality - after all, it is a powerful thing in our lives and it can be a great story hook. What I meant were characters who are only queer and don't have anything else that defines them, that is really awful.

    I'd like to add Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element to the list of example character. He's a flaming heterosexual and women love him - but his character goes against everything we tend to think of when we hear male sex symbol.
  • The one thing that completely puts me off queer content is when the character is queer first and a person only as an afterthought. I've known players and GMs to do that and it always gets on my nerve because it denies characters their personality. So please don't go there. Make queer characters, but don't connect each and every thing they do with their sexuality/gender.
    Not sure about that. I don't think there's inherently anything bad about creating queer characters for the sake of exploring sexuality/gender anything more than creating a character to explore any other issue.

    A caricature is a caricature, of course, but I'm not sure that an idiosyncratic "gay" character is any worse (or any better) than an idiosyncratic dwarf or elf. And in both cases the caricature can be (but sadly all too often is not) used as a launchpad towards more interesting territory.

    So it was that in our first session of Monsterhearts, the (female, played by women) Fae and Witch were at it within about the first five minutes. So far, so predictable. Fast forward that to our season finale when one ended up killing the other... we wouldn't have had that crescendo if people had been two concerned about queer content for its own sake at the beginning.
  • Make them three-dimensional characters, that's all I'm saying. There should be something left when you take away the gay, so to speak. I think that otherwise you're not going anywhere much with exploring the issue because you've fenced yourself in with a cookie cutter character. Go for the caricature and the cliché, but don't let it be all that there is to the character.
  • Word. I like everything you're saying.
  • Make them three-dimensional characters, that's all I'm saying. There should be something left when you take away the gay, so to speak. I think that otherwise you're not going anywhere much with exploring the issue because you've fenced yourself in with a cookie cutter character. Go for the caricature and the cliché, but don't let it be all that there is to the character.
    Agreed that this is what to try for. As an addendum, though, not all characters of any orientation end up being three-dimensional. Personally, I prefer to err on the side of including queer characters even if some of them come across as caricatures. So as I go in, I concentrate first on including diverse characters and have them be distinctive, and with that done, I concentrate on making them three-dimensional.

    What I want to avoid is having fewer queer characters because I reject putting in a queer character when they don't have the time or energy to make them three-dimensional.
  • Thanks for the replies to my question. It still seems odd to need a section on it but it seems to help a lot of the people here so maybe the area I grew up in was just different.
  • edited July 2013
    New AW game started on Sunday. It's D&D flavored. Wands instead of guns. Almost no actual rules changes.

    I'm the skinner, a fey-changeling. I'm whatever sex you're attracted to, but pretty androgynous. And I (want to?) love everyone.

    Another character is the chopper and middle-aged drag queen in love with me.
  • Christopher,
    I really hope you give us a session write-up :)
  • Yeah, different comfort levels and different interests. One of my play groups has players that have quite different takes on roleplaying. Some of them are very proactive and want to create stuff, while others just want to follow plots and what comes along etc. The latter want to explore worlds instead of themes or their characters - I've met a whole bunch of players like this.
  • Some examples from mine-

    First time I played AW, the Hocus Light/Dark, had the ability to switch between physical sexes, and would ask you your preference before sex (I made a custom move for the player for that). The Skinner, Frost, was a male dancer stripped who preferred the company of men but would go either way.
    I also had Jarvis, a big fat filthy NPC who owned the club Frost danced at, and had the sex move "Can you live with yourself in the morning? Take -1 forward."
    Balls was a badass npc enforcer who was so named because as a transman, he had none.

    I played Dez, a 17 year old Angel who was a transwoman, with no real access to sexual reassignment. It was a PbP game, didn't last very long.

    In another AW game, a PC Grotesque (custom playbook, think mutant) Tully had no discernable gender. (And most of the other PCs were women who swung lesbian) When Tully went under a full medical scan at the Quarantine's facility, I asked the player what he thought, and we barfed forth some strange new sex, with an erogonous zone that could be either inflated or deflated. Also, we found out Tully was pregnant. And that the thick black goo covering it's body (that tasted delicious) was a combination of exhalation, sweat, and shit.

    I've seen lots of gay and lesbian content in MH games- going to have to step up my game with the trans content. Monsterhearts really gives you tools with this, letting you use Turn Someone On on everyone, which causes them to reevaluate their characters.
  • Forgive me if I use inappropriate terms, I have little experience with this.

    I've been playing in an AW game for a few months. I'm playing Mercury, a gender female Skinner who self-identifies as male (in the social concept of male). He is that way almost all of the time - but he does find himself falling into female roles sometimes.
  • Forgive me if I use inappropriate terms, I have little experience with this.
    Hey Mark, props for exploring new terrain in your AW game!

    I hope it's helpful for me to point out a terminology mix-up with regards to Mercury. The word "gender" is about self-identification and social concept. From your description it sounds like Mercury was born with a vagina, two X chromosomes, and a body that was interpreted as female. That would mean that Mercury was female-assigned, or that Mercury's sex was female. Since Mercury presents as a man most of the time, his gender is male. Because his gender doesn't match the sex he was assigned at birth, Mercury is (in my reckoning) transgender or trans*, though in a place like Apocalypse World it's not necessarily true that he'd know those words or explain those categories in a similar way.

    What's it like playing a transgender Skinner? In most cases, Skinners rely on their body and sexuality for all their power/support/whatever - does Mercury's relationship with his own body make the job more complicated for him? This is all super intriguing!
  • I got well into writing a response when I realized that it is a little too much for me to feel comfortable posting it publicly.

    Let's say he has a complicated set of issues involving sex, power, and self-identity that stem from, amongst other things, the Arresting Skinner and Hypnosis move.

  • • The single gayest experience I have ever had, in- or out-of-character, was having arm-sex with another guy during an Ars Amandi workshop.

    • The first RPG character I ever played was in Mage: the Ascension. Victoria Ocean—rap name MC Trancephorm—was nineteen years old, from Staten Island, NY, Black Seminole on her father's side and Black on her mother's side. She was the the youngest member of the Wu-Tang Clan, which in this game was a branch of the Akashic Brotherhood led by RZA and GZA, based out of Wǔdāng Mountain in China and New York City in the United States.

    Trance is a Kinsey 6, closeted to all but her closest friends, and personally terrified of the truth getting out because of the declining but still widespread homophobia in the hip hop community. I originally decided Trance was lesbian because I like girls in real life but am historically incapable of dating straight girls, meaning that OoC the vast majority of my romantic experiences have been with women who identified as bisexual or lesbian. It just seemed like the simplest thing to do at the time. Trance is also extremely vocally bigoted, which is less an expression of how she actually feels than a nervous habit that she hopes will conceal her true identity as "the lesbian" with a more obvious cover identity as "the bigot." This habit also has a real-world reflection: Trance's speech is patterned after the banter at my ninjutsu dōjō, which is quite frankly pretty racist (for complicated reasons which I can explain, but they're a bit off topic).

    I've now been playing Trance since 2005. I've played her offline in tabletop games and online in chat rooms. It's been weird sometimes. I've had men and women pursue Trance in-character, once or twice successfully in the case of women. She had one long, serious, but still secret relationship with a Fiend from Demon: the Fallen. She's also been in a bizarre love triangle with some recurring characters whom Kit plays—I'll let him describe that part.

    I didn't know until I'd been playing Trance for a little while that "guy on the Internet role-playing young lesbian" was a trope, but by the time I found out about it, her sexuality was too fixed in her identity for me to change it. Also, who knows? I might be buying into that trope subconsciously. Originally, though, it was just an expression of not wanting to venture into a sexuality I didn't understand with my first-ever RPG character.
  • Yeah, I don't think that triangle was too bizarre: it was mostly that (in the troupe-style play we were doing) I had two characters who were both largely defined in terms of their relationship to Trance: one, her good friend Layla, and the other, her less-good friend Jack. Layla was a sorcerer (not a "proper mage") and so was usually a sidekick, and Jack was an asshole who had feelings for Trance that weren't reciprocated, so he had dated Layla briefly in a misguided and stupid attempt to be around Trance more. Layla pretty quickly ended that when she saw what was happening. And that was all backstory to explain why Jack and Layla were never in the same room at the same time, basically.
  • I know but song title
  • I circled "transgressing" on my Brainer sheet this past weekend at DexCon. He was a cute blond teenage boy in a prom dress. He was definitely male-identified, and heterosexual, but he was very effeminate, and quite unapologetic about it.

    In the end he stayed behind to activate the self-destruct on a satellite that was causing most of AW's problems, letting three other PCs off the hook. I had 15 seconds left on the self-destruct clock. I asked the GMs if I could open my brain one more time. Getting a 7-9 result, the GM narrated me being led down to a dance floor by a beautiful girl in a tuxedo. (I had the advanced moves, so I'm pretty sure a 12+ would have meant getting to live on within the Maelstrom.)

    He had had a lot of sex with people in the nearly-all-female hold Tesla City the week before, so I'm hopeful that there will be a bunch of psychic babies soon.

    Matt
  • On a related note, here are a couple of things you can do to help queer people feel more comfortable in your gaming culture.

    -Make space for people to let others know what pronouns they prefer at the start of the session. This can be as simple as a facilitator saying, "ok, lets do a go around. when it's you're turn tell us your name and anything else you'd like us to know about you."

    -Have a safety mechanism like the Veil, or X card. make sure everyone knows what it is and agrees to respect it.

    -Continue to educate yourself about Queer culture and its usage of different terms. The culture is evolving very rapidly. Things that were accepted practices a year ago have are not necessarily true today. For example: some folks are stepping away from using male-bodied or female-bodied as a euphemism for a cis-gendered man or woman. The rational being that if you identify as a man or a woman then your body is also male or female.
  • -Make space for people to let others know what pronouns they prefer at the start of the session. This can be as simple as a facilitator saying, "ok, lets do a go around. when it's you're turn tell us your name and anything else you'd like us to know about you."
    At Terminal City Story Games, we do introductions every time, with "Tell us your name, preferred pronouns, and something awesome that happened today." It was an approach suggested by a trans friend. By asking everyone to state their pronouns, even the folks who're cis and have never thought much about it, we hopefully normalize all answers.
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