On the 1st of April at 7pm, Gamers Beat Cancer will be hosting the inaugural show DragBox; this is an event that pits Queen against Queen to discover who has the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent in a series of Jackbox Games. All this in aid of raising awareness of the inequality of services for LGBTQ+ cancer patients and to raise vital funds for Gamers Beat Cancer. So why are these two things important?
Over three years ago, at the young age of 33, my husband, Paul, passed away; he had been battling cancer for 5 months. My world was turned upside down, flipped inside out and shattered. I couldn’t be in the situation at 32, I couldn’t; cancer only affects those who are older, those that are at risk, and those that have done their living, not someone who still enjoyed experience so much that life had to offer. It shouldn’t happen to someone who only got married less than four weeks before he passed away. But it did. I had to continue knowing that I needed to carry on living for him, but I didn’t know what to do. I was lost.
Throughout my grieving process I came to understand that I had to cope by myself, relying on my friends and family, who, as much as I loved them, had no idea what I was going through; they couldn’t comprehend what I was feeling. I looked for support groups for LBGTQ+ people who knew the pain I was going through, but there were none who catered for my specific circumstances: a gay man. All the other groups were open to all, but I didn’t feel comfortable going to one where the majority of attendees would be cis hetero, I couldn’t handle my husband passing AND being the only gay man at the age of 32 in a room of perceived bigotry.
My saving grace, and the reason my sanity is still somewhat together, was video games, I bought a Switch with Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild. I also bought components to build a gaming PC, as well as a PSVR system. I lost myself in world’s where cancer didn’t exist and death was only a temporary status, saves could be reloaded and difficulty chosen to get help you get through those challenges. These were my Fortress of Solitude. They helped me when I knew support for someone like me, a young gay man in his early 30s, was not available.
After clearing out my attic in preparation for a move, over a year ago, I had to consider what to do with my old games consoles that I no longer play on, some I donated some old consoles to a company called Gamers Beat Cancer. Their strategy aligned with what I knew to be true; video games can help people, as well as their families, who are experiencing the trauma of cancer. As we all know cancer doesn’t just affect one person, it affects everyone around them. So, I joined the organisation to help everyone experiencing this traumatic event.
One of my main goals after joining the organisation was to raise awareness, not just the use of video games as escapism, but also of the inequality of services and lack of safe spaces for LGBTQ+ cancer patients. Several years ago, MacMillan and the De Montfort University released a document advising healthcare professional how to act with members of the LGBTQ+ community who have cancer, it further goes on to state that the psychosocial effects of cancer are different between heterosexual individuals and those that are LGBTQ+, yet no changes have been made. NHS England have even stated in 2019 that nearly one in five LGB woman had never been for a screening (this doesn’t even take into account the many people who do not identify as woman who still have a cervix); this is one of the many examples where lack of equality of services needs addressing.
So that’s why DragBox was created; to highlight the above and also raise money for Gamers Beat Cancer. The event can will be live on the Gamers Beat Cancer Twitch channel and hosted by Twitch and YouTube sensation Trista Bates with co-host Games Master Robin Bates, who will hopefully keep our amazing Drag queens in line. These feisty vixens who will be tickling your funny bone are Heather Phetish, Dona Tarte, Rhiebelle, Cola Phalquero and Taylor Trash.