The L.A. Gayming Society (LAGS), a group of queer game enthusiasts, fans and players who seek to create a safe space for gaymers to connect, hosted a release party and screening of the movie Detective Pikachu this past Saturday, May 11.
Imagine walking into a party where the hit Pokémon franchise seemed to explode out of the game, anime and comic all over the walls, counters and furniture. Picture cheeky cocktails based off the original three starters—Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander—and of course Pikachu, next to cups with matching colors. On the counter there are sticker books with every Pokémon imaginable to identify your favorite and mark your beverage. In the living room the couches are adorned with Bulbasaur plushies and a table to the side holds more than 20 different types of Pokémon dolls while another table holds the beloved Pikachu in various outfits and costumes. The TV is playing a version of the anime that tells the story of the video games more truthfully than the current show. All around there are people—queer people—laughing, drinking and enjoying an atmosphere that is hard to find when you are a gay gamer, or gaymer. This scenario was not the dream of a lone gaymer.
However, the screening and pre-party were not the only event that LAGS has hosted. Last year the group held their first E3 after-party at the Precinct in Downtown Los Angeles.
According to one of the administrators of the Facebook group,, 34, the group would have been happy to have 200 people attend the event. What they got instead blew them away.
“We moved around 2,200 people through the bar on a Tuesday. We raised just over $5,000, every penny of which went to the LA LGBT Center. Specifically, their program for homeless youth.”
The money, Spackman said, allowed LAGS to buy The Center TVs, gaming systems and video games for the transitional youth. “The leftover money went directly into the program for housing them, clothing them, feeding them, all that stuff,” Spackman added. “The event was a bigger success than the group had planned and opened doors for them to continue raising money for charity. LAGS went on to host a Super Smash Brothers launch party as well as a Mortal Kombat launch party at the Precinct in conjunction with the Boulet Brothers, both of which were a success. Now, the group is planning a repeat for this years E3.”
The group is hosting their second E3 after party tonight, June 11 at the Precinct where they wil. raise money for Project Q, a nonprofit organization offering free haircuts and workshops for queer youth experiencing homelessness.
However, partying and raising money for charity isn’t the only thing LAGS cares about. The group is all about building a community for gaymers all across Southern California to connect.
“We wanted to build a community that people can get together and meet like-minded friends and kind of build their own community of friends and gaymers, nerds, geeks, whatever,” group administrator Yamil Ramirez, 33, said. “I felt like this is a good way to get back and kind of have others share the same experience that I did because it’s been a huge part of who I am today.”
Ramirez said that when he moved to Los Angeles seven years ago from Florida, he didn’t know anybody and found an online community through specific forums. After connecting, he and his group of friends decided they wanted to create a place for those who came to L.A. and shared their same interests.
“There wasn’t really a community for gaymers to meet and make friends,” he said. “There are so many people that come to L.A. to move and follow their dreams and whatever it might be. We really wanted to replicate our experience for other people.”
LAGS is not only for the gaymers. According to admin Christopher Bryant, 30, the group noticed that they’ve created a space for queer people in various “nerd” industries.
“We’re creating a safe space also for a lot of people who work in the video game industry or in other kind of geek related industries that are LGBT, who may feel a little bit marginalized,” Bryant said. “They might feel like a joke that goes around the office is a little bit homophobic and they’re finally ‘Oh, this is also a safe space for me to talk about these issues and find other people that work in the same field.”
Bryant added that he thinks LAGS is also great because it creates a safe space where industry professionals who are queer can meet up together and have somewhere to talk about issues that they face.