Fostering a Friendly Community: Stack Up & #Pride Month
By: L. Sahara McGirt
June marks yet another Pride month for those of us who celebrate it. As a team member of Stack Up's staff, I have the privilege of working with and for a pretty great community of Veterans and sympathetic civilians who are diverse and inclusive. Stack Up is a welcoming gaming community that does as it says, supporting all veterans who reach out to us regardless of gender, race, preference, and on.
Firstly, a little more about me. I signed up for the US Navy in the fall of 2010 and went to boot camp in February of 2011. Don't Ask Don't Tell didn't make its way out of the door until September 2011. I joined even without knowing if I would be allowed to be out and proud because I wanted out of my home state that badly. When I was in boot camp, at least 10 others in my division were part of the LGBTQ+ community, and our entire division knew about us.
Even before DADT went out, most people didn't really care about who was or wasn't gay. At the end of the day, it was about who had each other's backs. In my opinion, anybody that used Don't Ask Don't Tell against someone else didn't have anyone's back but their own. Even as DADT went out the door, plenty of us were known about; we just didn't talk about it.
Not long after DADT ended, I joined in with GLASS or Gay, Lesbian, and Supporting Sailors, a support group that helped me make more friends that were part of the LGBTQ+ community around the Great Lakes Training base. Some Navy ships still have GLASS chapters to this day. While I encountered very little homophobia during my experience in the military, it is still good to have a group of people who are there and can back each other up, should they ever encounter it.
After the military, finding veteran groups that are LGBTQ+ friendly was not too easy. Not to knock on any groups, but once I was out, I mostly encountered Veteran groups geared towards older men who weren't particularly fond of people who are LGBTQ+ and out loud about it.
I didn't find Stack Up until the summer of 2018, by which time I was out of the military for a few years already. I mostly stayed away from veteran groups at that point, but to find a group focused on gaming and mental health that didn't seem to care that I was queer or not was really reassuring. At the time, I was in college and couldn't get as involved as I would have liked, but I kept an eye out. I noticed little things like support for Content Creators who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and the support of groups like Gay Gaming Pros. I, of course, bought last year's shirt supporting GGP from Stack Up for Coming Out month, as pictured in my team member photo below.
Stack Up, overall, has a really great community that only seems to care about the fact that I served and not about how I identify or what my preferences are outside of what games I like to play.
The rest of the staff does their best to stay informed and be respectful, even going as far as to use my pronouns of they/them. The community itself includes veterans who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Until recently, I didn't realize how much of a difference having that kind of overlap makes, even for myself, but it makes a big difference. While I've been part of groups geared towards people who are LGBTQ+, I haven't been able to get that sense of camaraderie that comes with hanging out with Veterans who understand what that experience was like. Until now.
At the end of the day, anyone who has put on a US or Allied military uniform deserves and receives Stack Up's help. Supporting all veterans. That's a message I can stand behind.
Happy Pride Month!
If you still haven't bought your Stack Up Pride Shirt supporting Gay Gaming Professionals, you can get yours at this link. Get them while supplies last!