“If we look closely, Gamergate was actually a lab for the American right-wing, a lot of their values found resonance there,” says Goulart. The movement was guided by the idea that its members, fueled by notions of superiority and extremism, refused to see in video games things that they rejected in real life.
Despite the discomfort she felt, Samira says the early intimidation she received from other gamers and streamers only gave her more fuel. “I saw it as an extra incentive to occupy this online space, there was so much to change and to transform.”
Samira felt responsible for leading the way for gaymers. For her, humor is key because it makes things lighter and easier to digest. And when it comes to giving out tips for those thinking of streaming themselves, she has only two rules. “The first thing I say is: ‘Don’t compare your beginning with someone’s middle.’ And the second thing is to have fun. Because when you have fun, people feel it and have fun with you,” she says.
This attitude has led to a lot of success for Samira. She has appeared on TV, released a single, and is a reference within the Brazilian gaming community. “When you do drag, what happens a lot is that you get trapped in the character. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of everything I’ve achieved through Samira, but sometimes I think there are things that Wenesson wants to conquer,” she says.
Luckily, the road has been paved, with many gaymers taking to streaming after Samira. “I’m glad because the LGBTQ+ community likes a lot of different things, so it’s not just a matter of visibility, it’s also a matter of diversity in the content,” says Samira.
Gaymers for All Audiences
Rebeca is one of those streamers who knows how to shake things up. Friends with Samira, she is the drag of 23-year-old Alexandre Paulo dos Santos. Dos Santos identifies as nonbinary and started streaming three years ago, while they were still working at a beauty salon.
Rebeca began her streaming career like Samira, participating in other people’s streams until viewers really liked her and donated a computer so she could produce her own content.
Today, Rebeca has more than 200,000 followers and sometimes streams for more than 10 hours a day. She loves games such as Overwatch and Fortnite, but focuses on sharing her lifestyle. “The main objective of my lives was never the gameplay itself, it was always the exchange, the conversation, the space where humor flows naturally,” she says.
Rebeca recalls that her favorite livestream was actually a karaoke night with other Brazilian streamers. “The girls know each other, and we have a lot of fun together,” she says. With every 100,000 followers, she organizes a karaoke stream with special looks, awards, and direct voting from the public.
“The girls and I developed this friendship that sometimes we are playing late-night games without even streaming them,” she shares. Rebeca says that she convinced everyone to become neighbors so that they could build a tighter community in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city.
Even though LGBTQ+ streamers have gained sponsorships and public attention, they are still not mainstream, says Rebeca. “There are big teams of gamers that compete and everything, and it’s hard to find a member of the LGBTQ+ community within them. That needs to change.”
Maybe it is only a matter of time. With its revenue reaching an additional 5 percent year-over-year, the gaming industry in Brazil looks promising and far from the “toys for boys” cliché—despite outdated stereotypes, games seem to be reaching the boys, the drags, and anyone willing to play.
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