Colourful outfits, cute flags, and the brightest mounts. On the 23rd and 24th of June 2018 Tyria Pride returned for its third year of LGBTQ+ celebration and in-game pride marching! It was a huge event that spanned two days, both megaservers, and many maps; in fact, so many Tyrians attended that simultaneous map instances were marched upon! I attended the NA version, so I also got to enjoy live radio hosted by DJ Malibu Barbie at www.gw-en.com. It was a treat watching everyone joke around and react to the same songs together.
This was my first year attending and I’m lucky enough to have had the leaders of Gamers Giving Back, who hosted this year’s Pride, agree to an interview. We talked about their organisation, Tyria Pride past and present, and what comes next.
What can you tell me about how Gamers Giving Back began?
Rhonda (Malibu Barbie): Back in 2009 I was DJing for an online radio station and I was disgruntled with the radio for not doing anything productive. I was looking at the state of the world and was actually inspired by the song What About Now? by Daughtry. We had a small event to raise money for Haiti and the Red Cross and that is when I decided to found Gamers Giving Back. Since then we have raised almost over $500,000 for various causes and charity foundations.
The motto being ‘Making a Difference – One Gamer at a Time’ came from the way people perceived gamers back then too. I wanted to change how we were seen as a collective.
I personally don’t live in my mom’s basement!
What are each of your different roles in GGB?
Lelling: It’s been almost ten years with Barbie running GGB by herself. All of the organisation was up to her and she’s been getting busier and busier. This year Angel and I joined to help Barbie run the show.
Barbie is our compass; the guiding hand. Angel and I joined as leads, representing NA and EU respectively, although we both cover all sorts of things that are not bound to a specific server.
How many people would you say are a part of GGB?
Lelling: GGB has a permanent team of a handful of people – we’ve got the leads and a small team of five managers. I’d also like to give a special shoutout to our artists Tylos and Atra, who make all the art for our social media.
Then, for each event, we gather volunteers several weeks/months in advance. We do the three major fundraisers we have throughout the year – Toga Party for Multiple Sclerosis, Pink Day in LA for cancer, and, from this year on, Tyria Pride. So we prepare the plan for these events and then put out a call via social media for volunteers. We also have a number of volunteers who help out each year, so it’s kind of like an extended family that gets together a couple times a year to run something great.
It’s truly a testament to how much a small group of people can achieve!
This is my first time attending Tyria Pride. How does this year’s event compare to previous years?
Lelling: This year is the first time GGB has picked it up! I started organizing Tyria Pride in 2016. In the EU server we organised it from my community, OpenCommunity. Then in 2017 I got the coordinators from both NA and EU.
OpenCommunity has worked with Gamers Giving Back before with Toga Party for Multiple Sclerosis and Pink Day in LA. When I joined GGB as lead, I asked if they wanted to pick Tyria Pride up and here we are! GGB has a big presence on social media and NA; it’s so nice to have a higher number of volunteers who can help out and spread the word.
Other than that, this year’s event is bigger! We get bigger each year. This is also the first time both NA and EU took the exact same paths through Tyria.
Angel: I will say that I am very happy with GGB now hosting Tyria Pride. I’ve been attending various Pride events in-game for a few years and I am honoured to be leading the marches across Tyria.
Also, I really love the guild dynamic we have. Even though NA and EU are split by region, we can all still chat together and promote the events we host within the guild chat and messages so all can see them.
Anyone wanting to help with any of the events can reach out to me [contact details at the bottom of article] for a guild or Discord invite.
This year’s Tyria Pride raised money for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. How did you choose it?
Lelling: This is a very good question! We’ve always highlighted a fundraiser for Tyria Pride – although it wasn’t always planned.
In 2016 I just wanted to organise a march around Tyria in support of our LGBTQ+ friends and guildies, but then we all heard of the tragedy that happened at Pulse Club in Orlando. I told people if they donate to the fundraiser they could get an exclusive supporter icon for our TeamSpeak and website, and whatever they donate I’d count as donated to OpenCommunity as well so they get the supporter titles we have on our website. The response was pretty great for an impromptu thing!
In 2017 we heard of the horrible events in Chechnya, so we raised money for Rainbow Railroad. It’s an organisation aimed at assisting LGBTQ+ people living in dangerous conditions with legal aid and moving to a safe place/country.
Now we’re thinking of finding a permanent charity to raise funds for each year. We’re still on the lookout, but our criteria are:
- They’re a registered non-profit.
- They have visible work worldwide, not just in North America (you’d be surprised how hard it is to find that).
- They must benefit all LGBTQ+ people, not just gay people (again, you’d be surprised).
The HRC Foundation is an organisation separate from HRC itself and they at least seem to fill these criteria. I’m confident our fundraiser is going to benefit a good cause, but we haven’t yet decided whether we’ll stick with it next year as well.
Guild Wars 2 has an amazing community, but there are always people who want to speak against pride events. How do you deal with these people? Have they ever showed up at events like Tyria Pride?
Lelling: Our instructions for event attendees is always: don’t feed the trolls! Just report and block the person.
However, I’m always guilty of trying to reason with people, not really at the event since I’m too busy, but our announcement post on reddit had a couple of people who questioned the event. It’s hard to tell whether those people are coming from a place of ignorance or malice, but I always err on the side of trusting in the good in people. I just try to inform the person why, for example, representation and visibility are important. It doesn’t always work, as you might imagine, but it’s worth a shot.
I think in these heavily polarised times, it’s important to keep the dialogue open and not shut people out. It’s a lot easier to tell someone they’re a hater than it is to have a conversation with them. I always want to try, if not for the person I’m discussing it with, then for someone who might be reading the discussion later.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
Lelling: Yes! Pink Day in LA, our cancer fundraiser and arguably GGB’s biggest event of the year, is on October 20th! Preparations are already in order and we’re pretty much switching straight to planning as soon as Tyria Pride is done.
In my opinion, one of the coolest facts about GGB and Pink Day in LA is that ArenaNet added the pink dye into Guild Wars because of it! I heard this before I ever volunteered for GGB and just thought that’s so cool of them to do.
Rhonda: Just to add to the significance of Pink Day, a good friend of many of the original Gamers Giving Back volunteers passed away in March 2013. ArenaNet renamed the Pink Dye vendor to her in-game name. She passed on from Ovarian cancer.
Any closing remarks for our readers?
Angel: I’d say this: what we do wouldn’t be possible without the support of ArenaNet and the Guild Wars 2 community. So a big thank you to everyone that comes out and supports Gamers Giving Back and the charities we raise money for. We’re looking forward to Pink Day in LA coming up on October 20th!
Rhonda can be contacted on Twitter @barbie1337
Lelling can be contacted in-game at Lelling.6795
Angel can be contacted in-game at AngelWriter.3652 and on Discord at AngelWriter428#3999
See Also: Tyria Pride 2016