Mean Girls

I’ve been mulling over this post for quite a while. It’s been in the back of my head nagging at me ever since I got home from Blizzcon. It probably would have been a better idea to talk to a few people about how I was feeling while I was at the Con and I did confide into one or two people, but it didn’t really help much. I just don’t do well with confrontation.

To start off, I learned that a lot of people aren’t always what they seem. When I was driving to the Con I felt I had a good idea of how people’s personalities would play out and to some extent this held true for a lot of people. I met some of the nicest, most cheerful and upbeat people at the Con.

On the downside, I met people who I would be happy to never socialize with again. It’s unfortunate too because I felt I had such a strong connection with them over Twitter. I thought I was going to be inseparable with them and instead I spent most of my time avoiding them.

First impressions are a big thing for me. After we get through our formal introductions if the first thing you do is start talking crap about people you know through Twitter then I already have a negative opinion about you. To formulate such a strong opinion about someone through what little contact we have in the WoW Twitter community and even at Blizzcon isn’t really a fair assessment. And to say all these things to a person who: A. It’s their first Blizzcon and B. They don’t really know any of these people and have yet to formulate an opinion of their own? It’s very Mean Girls: You’re Regina George and I’m Lindsay Lohan, the new girl in school.

Besides the bad first impression, I have to say I was pretty upset while I attended the WoW Insider meetup. Again, the only way I really knew anyone was through the Twitter community. Basically everyone was a stranger to me and I wanted to mingle and get to know them better.

I’m a very shy person when meeting new people. Many of you probably came to this conclusion while meeting me at Blizzcon. I usually wait for people to make the first move and then I act upon that. It’s not that I’m anti-social or anything. I’m just fearful of a bad first impression. I’m very self-conscious of what people think of me and I end up having very bad anxiety if there is someone that I know that doesn’t really like me. It usually bothers me so much that I can hardly sleep and I end up wanting to seclude myself from any social situation.

So, going into the WoW Insider meetup with this self-awareness I was already out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to meet these people and put the faces to the Twitter accounts and blogs. Anyone who went to the WoW Insider meetup would know that most people gravitated around their guild or people they were really familiar with and that’s great. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have a ton of guildies to chase after and I didn’t really know anyone well enough to just jump into their conversation without getting a bunch of weird, possibly drunken stares. The people I was gravitating around decided to “help” me and introduce me to people because of my shyness. And while I think they had only the best intentions, it was the way they introduced me that I found humiliating:

“This is our token gay for the weekend.”

I was upset. I was embarrassed. These were people who knew nothing about me and the first thing they hear is something pertaining to my sexuality. I admit I have fun on Twitter and sometimes on my blog relating to gay things, but that’s not what defines me as a person and it’s not what I want people to hear about me when meeting me for the first time.

People who really know who I am are aware that I’m not comfortable with my own sexuality. I’m still in the process of figuring myself out and I’m not the type of person to shout it from the rooftops. I’ve never felt like “the gay guy” in a social setting before, so you could imagine with my insecurities how mortified and upset I was when those words were said. On top of that I started to feel the awkward stares back at me.

So for the rest of my time at Blizzcon I essentially avoided most social settings with these people if I could help it. I even went so far as to miss the TNB meetup because I didn’t want to be put into another awkward situation.

On the upside, my last night in Anaheim will be very memorable. I spent it with the people who totally made me feel comfortable while at the Hilton after-party and I had quite a few laughs with them and for that I am grateful. They really turned a sour-time into a great one.

Overall, I think people just need to know their boundaries when meeting new people. Take heart into realizing that you may not know everything about someone and tread the waters carefully when meeting new people.


17 thoughts on “Mean Girls

  1. I cannot believe people would talk about you being a “token gay” – not only is that reducing someone to a base intrinsic trait (their sexuality) but it is offensive and erroneous. There were a lot of queer people at the WI party (myself as one of them, several other men I was hanging out with) but…like…who would say something like that?

    It makes me feel bad for you. That’s really discomforting. Token my ass. There were tons of people there! I am sad I didn’t get to meet you or if I did, I wasn’t aware it was you.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear you had this experience. As someone who has a fair amount of social anxiety and awkwardness around people I’m not familiar with combined with not knowing anyone who went to Blizzcon except indirectly via Twitter, Wowinsider, blogs, etc., I could so easily picture this happening to me.

    I’m glad your last night was memorable, though, and I hope it helped make up for the otherwise awkward/somewhat miserable time you had in the beginning.

  3. To start, I cannot actually directly relate to either of the two main points you’ve put forth here, I’m not shy by any means (sometimes to my own determent) and I am straight, married, and have fathered a child. That said, I can absolutely “relate” in the sense that I have unfortunately seen this type of behavior, not yours but that of those “helping” you in other situations, and I have friends and family that are very shy and have similar issues of shyness (sometimes VERY extreme) with large social engagements, and I have to say you handled it brilliantly.

    There were far more destructive ways that you could have handled the situation but you chose to take the more calm approach. It is a true shame you missed the TNB meetup for fears of having a similar situation to the night before, because that is really the worst part of what took place is that it kept you from enjoying yourself further. However, that you were able to have a good time at the Hilton after-party and go home, collect yourself and your thoughts and express them here, and not in a condescending means but rather one to help others and pass on advice, that is truly commendable!

    I hope that you will go to Blizzcon again next year, as I have vowed to finally go myself, and I would very much like to meet you, buy you a drink of your choice, and chat about… the weather, or anything that comes up πŸ™‚

  4. I know exactly how you feel, I myself am very shy and I have a hard time connecting with people sometimes. I tend to be self-conscious of myself because I have this ridiculous frizzy red hair, I’m 5 feet tall and I weigh about 80 pounds more than I did 5 years ago. I’ve been referred to as the “Ginger Ewok” at times, and most of the time it’s more funny than mortifying, but if I was introduced like that I think I would melt into a puddle of embarrassment and die.

    Nobody should introduce people as the token anything, whether it be gay, ginger, girl, etc. It’s demeaning.

    Hopefully your next Blizzcon is better than this years πŸ™‚

  5. Just to reiterate what everyone has said. It’s awful you were introduced that way. I can’t understand what they were thinking. And I really empathise with the social anxiety & shyness. I struggle sometimes just saying anything on Twitter let alone meeting people from Twitter or WoW Insider in real life!! To me you were extremely brave just going to BlizzCon. And it’s great you had a good last night. But so sorry much of the rest of it was so unpleasant.

  6. It’s really a shame that you didn’t go to the TNB party. I believe I even asked Ophelie if you were around, as I had thought you were very excited about going. It was a really great time, and I think that you would have quite enjoyed it.

    In thinking back on it, I think that I was one of the people that had you introduced that way to me at the WoW Insider party, and I think I remember who introduced you – but I’m not positive. For what it’s worth, it didn’t make me think any less of you and my first thought of you wasn’t “he’s gay” it was “you shouldn’t be texting and driving, omg!” and “it’s great to meet you!”. I thought you seemed very sweet and would have liked to chat with you a bit more – unfortunately the WI meetup is so crowed and so loud, it makes most in depth conversation a bit prohibitive.

    I am incredibly sorry that you felt this way – and I don’t know if my assurances help you or not, but I certainly would have treasured getting to chat with you in the more intimate setting of the TNB meetup.

  7. Wow… I’m so sorry you had this experience!

    I have dealt with my fair share of social anxiety, but over the years I’ve learned to deal with it. I attended Blizzcon last year and the year prior, and I’m glad to say I didn’t experience the same treatment, but I could see how it would happen.

    Gamers, as a group, aren’t always the most tolerant or understanding of someone else’s feelings. After all, it’s always about 1-upping the next person, right? If someone offends you in the way they refer to you, or introduce you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling them they offended you or hurt your feelings. It takes some guts, but it should pay off. If they react badly, maybe that’s not where you want to hang out to begin with?

    I attended the TNB party last year, and they’re a great bunch — I hope you get the chance to hang out with them in the future. Blizzcon is a fantastic experience when shared with people you get along with — so if you’re shy and nervous, maybe find a buddy for next year?

    Now on the flip side, because you have put it out there on your blog, and on your twitter, and knowing you’re somewhat a public personality — the people who introduced you felt like they knew you — at least on some level. In no way am I saying you reacted wrong, or that they were in the right, but I do think it’s worth considering how much you really put out there on the internet, especially if it’s something you’d be embarrassed about in person.

    I get it, and hope your experiences from 2011 don’t spoil your fun for 2012. I’m sure there are plenty of kind people out there dying to meet you!

  8. I went to PAX East in 2010 with hopes of meeting up with some people, and spent about 3 hours not knowing how to talk to anyone. I literally knew nobody there, and felt so out of place in a place I should have felt right at home. I didn’t have any luck talking to people and wound up leaving feeling worse about myself than I did when I had arrived. I hope that your experience didn’t turn you off of cons like mine did. Unless I am specifically giong with people, I feel I will never go to another con again.

    Being shy sucks. Being shy and socially awkward sucks more. Add to that my being “the fat guy” and I think I’m almost to a point where I can understand how it must have felt to be openly called the “token gay guy”. Some people have no filter, and sometimes it winds up hurting others. You’re not a token. You’re a person and people should get to know the whole you without putting a quantifier on you. Meeting you as “the gay guy” isn’t fair to you or the new people you met.

  9. Damn. =\

    I know exactly how it is to be called “the token gay guy” or similar. I’ve been in that exact position before, when I went with one of my best friends/roommates to Wrestlemania a couple years ago (and where the only person I actually KNEW was said friend/roommate). I do have some of the same personality traits there as you do – but understand that if that kind of thing happens, you just gotta take them aside and say, “Hey, can you not do that please?” Personally, I don’t care if someone does or does not know what gender I’m attracted to, but I don’t need that to be part of my introduction. I should be introduced based on my merits as a person – or in the case of Blizzcon, a player, an online personality, etc.

    Interestingly, I know that when someone does say that, it’s definitely not meant out of disrespect. Obviously, it just makes things really awkward. πŸ™‚

  10. Hello,

    It took me a while to decide what I wanted to say to you, in response to this post. I do feel there are several things that need to be clarified, which you may have left out of your post and that I wanted to reiterate and get out in the open.

    First and foremost, on the car ride back from the hotel, Ophelie and I did in fact have a lengthy conversation about who we were looking forward to meeting at the convention and who we were looking to avoid. This was a conversation that you, yourself even participated in with us. We did not spend the entire drive back to the hotel bashing people that we did not know. If you felt that we were being a bit hard on people or just being unpleasant in general, you were more than welcome to change the subject, indicate that you did not want to participate, or have made your displeasure clear in some way. By going along with the theme of the conversation, which again was not primarily negative, you indicated that you were fine what we were discussing and the manner in which we were discussing it in.

    Regarding the comment that was made about you, I do admit that I did say that. We have very different views about our sexuality and I was under the impression that you were as carefree about it as I am, which I may have misinterpreted. I am sorry if I offended you or led you to feel humiliated by what I said.

    What upsets me is that Ophelie and I did sense that you were pulling away or avoiding us for most of the trip and we did make several attempts to see if something was wrong and if you needed to talk. We did not ask you in public places. We did not ask you in a threatening manner. We did nothing to promote a situation of conflict or confrontation. She and I asked you repeatedly if you were OK, if you were mad at us, is everything alright – to which you replied “yes” each time you were asked. It turns out that things were not fine and we did not know that. We feel that we gave you ample opportunity to share your feelings with us and that offer was not taken. Perhaps we deal with conflict differently and I hesitate to use the word conflict, only because I don’t feel that is what it would have led to. I don’t feel that two adults having an open and honest conversation with each other has to lead to conflict. We had an opportunity to resolve our issues over the weekend and that unfortunately did not happen. But I do want to stress that we did try to rectify things, when we felt there was a split between us and that did not take place.

    At the end of the day, we were both very grateful for the discount on the room that you gave us and for your help getting back and forth to the airport and around Anaheim. We wished that we could have spent more time with you, because that was our sole intent this past weekend. We did not plan on enjoying BlizzCon as a duo, we intended to do it as a trio. I’m very sorry that this did not turn out that way, due to what I said and due to miscommunications after the fact. I hope that you were able to enjoy your trip, in some capacity, and that we will see you next year at BlizzCon.

    Thanks and take care.

    • The problem I had with resolving the situation was that you aren’t very approachable. You’re very opinionated and intimidating, so it’s not as easy as just walking up to you and saying “hey, I have an issue with you.”

      Whether you actually know it or not, I actually spoke to Ophellie about it and told her how I felt. She did encourage me to talk to you and she even offered to talk to you herself, but I told her no because I didn’t want things to be awkward between us during our short time together. I wasn’t sure how you’d react because I just don’t know you that well and I’ve seen how you can be to people. It’s just easier to ignore it since we live so far away from each other.

      The car ride from the airport was a fairly one-sided conversation. There were some negative comments said about people and I just asserted myself to your views because, let’s face it, I had no idea who these people were or how they were in public. I think it was just me wanting to feel accepted, but it wasn’t how I truly felt about anyone. In fact, the most I did say was “ya, uh huh, and totally.” I never actually “shared” my opinion about anyone with anyone. All in all, I just felt it was overly caddy, especially since we know so little about these people. It’s just not the sort of behavior I would surround myself with.

      As for your apology, thank you. It does mean a lot.

  11. I’m bummed that we weren’t able to meet up at the WI/WH party… you could have rolled the Con with us. We got there kinda late, and after dinner, my friends pretty much just wanted to roll out.

    But stop giving a shit about what anyone thinks about you, and just have fun. I know that’s easier said than done, but really, who cares what some other geek/twit/blogger/pseudo-online-celeb thinks of you? How will that really affect you in the long run? Many of them were probably freaking out as well, just channeling it differently.

    Ya know, as I was writing this, my ex just sent me this kinda sappy email but I opened it anyway because it had “Snoopy” on it and I’m kinda a (read: a huge) Snoopy nerd. It was one of those cheesy “pass it on” notes but there was a line in it that you might appreciate: “The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. (or in this case hits/page-views/followers) They simply are the ones who care the most.”

    Hell man, you’re practically living in my backyard… we can meet up and have a beer and you can roll down with us next year with people you know. Or at least know you want to avoid in advance? We meet so many people online through social media, gaming, etc, but we don’t really know someone until you are holding their hair out of the toilet as they vomit after a hard night of game convention binge drinking.

  12. That is a shitty introduction to this community and a shitty introduction for your friends to use. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I completely sympathize with that feeling of knowing something’s not right, and being too shy in the moment to stand up and correct it. And then feeling worse because you didn’t do the “right thing”. I was sorry I didn’t get to see you this weekend (…if I met you late on Thursday, I may not remember it. *urp*) I’m very glad you found a group of people where you could be comfortable and enjoy the end of your Blizzcon! If it’s any consolation, you’re definitely not in a small minority in the [awesome part of the ] wow community, a huge number of us are GLBTIQ.

  13. At places like the wow insider party, there were actually a lot of people and those kind if events are really tough for a lot of people. My first Blizzcon, I didn’t even go to any of the parties because I found it too overwhelming of an event. I enjoyed being able to spend some time with you (though I was definitely spread thin myself). I didn’t even realize what your orientation was until I read this post, if that makes you feel better.

  14. I am sorry about your experience at Blizzcon 2011. From reading your post it’s obvious you were hurt and that is unfortunate. One thing I’ve learned over the years and in my line of work is that there are all kinds of different personalities and we really have to try and mish mash them to get along. LIFE is terribly SHORT. I have been reading “O”s posts and podcast and know she has a very strong personality and definately doesn’t hold anything back. Doesn’t make her a bad person but like you, I tend to keep things in. From reading her comment I believe she was genuine when she didn’t mean to offend you but nevertheless is sorry. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet either one of you at Blizzcon 2011, but would love to next year. Let bygones be bygones and forgive and forget πŸ™‚

  15. I’m sorry your weekend didn’t go too well, and bummed we didn’t get to talk a bit more. (I ended up working at that VIP check-in all night which was somewhat unexpected.) If it’s any consolation, I had a terrible time at my first blizzcon and a wonderful time this year. A lot of it is for the reason you experienced – I figured out who I had the best time with and who I had the worst time with, and didn’t spend any time with the people who made me feel miserable last year. *hug* if you go next year, let’s make it a point to chill together.

  16. Much as I’d love to go to Blizzcon, I can’t support huge expenditure just for a quick weekend. I meet friends, instead, at Dragon*con in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend (actually Thursday through Monday). Blizzcon doesn’t fare well in comparison:
    Blizzcon – 26,000
    Dragon*con – over 40,000
    Ticket Price:
    Blizzcon – $175
    Dragon*con – $70 +/- in advance, no more than $120
    Blizzcon – let’s see, you were introduced as the “token gay”
    – Blizzard employee played hate-filled video saying F* the Alliance and suggesting they should die
    Dragon*con – has tracks covering everything from gaming (Yes, Warcraft has about 4 days itself), Trek, robotics, Whedonverse, costuming, skeptics, science and space,hacking, alternative media, …you get it. From particle physics to the correct way to wear a kilt, it’s all covered..
    – There is also an active and open GLBT community with their own scheduling and great latenight parties.

    I don’t wear a costume, speak Klingon, or walk around chanting “Lok’tar, ogar’. I do enjoy the 5 days of discussions and panels, the costume watching is second to none, the parties ranging from Hogwarts finest to dancing the Timewarp, Jefferson Starship, Leonard Nimoy ..spread over 5 of the sweetest hotels in downtown Atlanta.

    In short: I’m sorry your acquaintances were uncomfortable to be around and lacked empathy. Please come join us in Atlanta next year – Stay longer, spend less and be around people who are looking forward to having as much fun as they can!

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