If Found… and pushing back on shame

“Have you ever been on a crowded train with one of your best gay friends and, inside, a tiny part of you is cringing because he is being so gay?”

That’s a question posed by my favourite drag queen and Ireland’s self-proclaimed gender discombobulator, Panti Bliss, in a biting speech about “checking” herself. What she’s “checking” is something most queer people “check” for in public, whether they realise it or not: their own queerness. Am I standing too gay? What about these colourful socks? Are they too much? Will holding a partner’s arm in public turn into a problem? Something private and intimate altered into something shameful or political, all through other people’s reactions.

That feeling’s best thought of as the tension between who people expect us to be and who we really are… or who we’re trying to become. Imagined futures are projected onto our bodies like film reels, blurring the skin that lies beneath. That tension feels a lot like shame. But, while video games usually have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer busting through a wall, they’re occasionally a great place to explore queer topics, letting us role-play as whoever we want to be or explore those unique experiences in unique ways.

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