I never really had a ‘crew’ like the one at FemHype before. The first real online community I joined was on YouTube. I had been actively following content and watching videos since 2008 — and probably even earlier — but I never really found my niche. So I bounced from community to community in search of one. I liked certain platforms, but I never really connected with anyone.
Then FemHype became a huge part of my life. First my sister started it and then, a year later, she invited me to join the team as Social Media Manager. I had always loved video games, but never really got involved online. Despite my lack of knowledge, you all welcomed me with open arms. I don’t know if I ever said thank you, so here goes: thank you.
When we were recording videos and creating content, I was struggling with really bad anxiety. I had panic attacks every week, and sometimes even twice a week. Still, the comments were upbeat, the feedback was genuine, and the response was far more positive than I had hoped for. I didn’t realize that I even needed a community like FemHype until I had one.
Everyone here opened dialogues for me that I had never felt comfortable discussing before. You taught me the patience and grace necessary to learn from varying perspectives and to know when to listen. Not only that, but when I finally opened up about my anxiety, you encouraged me to reconnect with myself and validated what I was feeling.
This goes hand in hand with my experience playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was completely new to me! From the get-go, I didn’t understand any of the lore. I created Francisco the elf mage, and I think I latched onto the idea of “romancing” characters as a way to understand at least one aspect of the story. The first flirty option I remember getting was with Cassandra, and naturally — considering my sister’s ahem, admiration of her — I pursued that path.
Except I was completely against the idea of romance in video games. Most of my past gaming experiences were basically G-rated (apart from the occasional WooHoo in The Sims). So when I decided to try dating in Dragon Age: Inquisition just for the heck of it, I laughed hysterically throughout. The relationships escalated so quickly — we went from innocent courting to a full-blown love scene. I was uncomfortable, but not for the reasons I used as excuses.
Let’s back up, though.
I have written fanfics before and wrote in first-person narrative — normally through the eyes of men. In retrospect, this was my own internalized heteronormativity and I suppressed the thoughts I wasn’t yet ready to tune into. When I played The Sims, I always seemed to create straight couples, but stuck to focusing my gameplay on the men. When I played as a single woman living alone, I would explore community lots and flirt with any Sim. That was my first bit of experimenting, I suppose.
Back to DA:I: the next character I played was Elsa the elf ice mage, and I wanted to explore other romantic options. Although I had Blackwall, Cullen, and Bull available, I chose Josephine. I remember asking my sister why there were so few gay options for women in the game. I also remember feeling viciously angry that the only two bi characters were depicted as so stereotypical. And why couldn’t Cullen be bi when he obviously flirted with both of my elf mages?
Then I started to think about it. Really think. I questioned my default heteronormative assumptions programmed by the media, culture, friends, family, etc. I started to remember the thoughts I had once pushed away, which were all resurfacing now. It was almost like wiping the lens and seeing clearly through glass. Things were starting to make sense.
I revisited my old YouTube personal account to search for other people like me. The retellings of their journey toward self-acceptance and coming out made me feel even more validated. I finally felt comfortable looking into this — searching, finding, and re-learning memories that I had long since suppressed. You opened those dialogues for me. You challenged my worldview. You helped me find myself, and damn, am I happy now.
With all that has come out about YouTube restricting LGBTQIA+ content, I think it’s more important than ever to talk about this. It is so imperative that people — especially young folk — see themselves represented in media. To specifically target and restrict young queer kids from living an authentic life is abhorrent. Sure, it is human nature to want to be a part of a community, but young queer kids need to be able to see themselves in a genuine, stereotype-free way that the mainstream media is still struggling to provide. Queer content is what helped me learn about my bisexuality.
Thank you, FemHype crew! You were the catalyst to helping me live authentically. I’m so grateful to you. Love and cyber hugs! Follow me @GLaDOS_hype. 😉