• Abigail Hall

Local business to host Trans Friendly Game Night event for 2nd time in May

Originally published at OU Daily April 29, 2018


A group of Normanites gathered during spring break to play games, build new friendships and be themselves at local board game cafe Loot & XP's first Trans Friendly Game Night.


A second Trans Friendly Game Night is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 21. Depending on turnout, the event's organizers hope it will become more regular.


Travis Darling, who graduated from OU in 2011 with a degree in geography, attended Loot & XP's first event on March 19 with their partner.


Darling identifies as genderqueer, a term under the umbrella of transgender, as they do not identify fully with either male or female.


Darling said they felt welcomed and safe at the gaming event, and that they look forward to future events.


“I want to go back. I want to meet more people and play games and not have to worry about (my) presentation on a regular basis — focusing more on what I’m doing than who I am,” Darling said.


Darling was one of 30 people who showed up for the first Trans Friendly Game Night meeting at Loot & XP.


The idea for the event came from J. Lang, a local blogger and member of theNorman chapter of PFLAG, a national organization aiming to unite parents, families, friends and allies with the LGBTQ community. After a conversation at a PFLAG meeting where members discussed how to engage the Norman LGBTQ community, Lang pursued the idea of hosting a game night.


Lang, an avid game blogger, contacted his friend, DC Bueller, one of the owners of Loot & XP, with the idea of hosting a game night open to the LGBTQ community and particularly to trans folks and allies, Lang said.


Bueller and his co-owners were more than happy to offer a space to welcome anyone who attended the event, and the possibility of continuing a regular event in the future, Bueller said.


“I think it’s really important, just being able to show that we’re inclusive and actively so,” Bueller said. “We wanted to take the extra step to say, ‘Hey, you’re welcome.’ It’s going to be a fun time and good way to spend the evening.”


Jack Claxton, another co-owner of Loot & XP, said the environment of the shop took on a “party atmosphere” that evening.


“People were actively moving between tables and checking out what people were doing. That’s the sign of it being successful to me — by and large, people were happy and engaging with each other, so that was really good to see,” Claxton said.


Lang said he expected around 10 people to show up for the event, but the store was filled to its capacity. Because OU campus was shut down for construction, many students fled to Loot & XP, Lang said.


Lang, in connection to PFLAG Norman and Loot & XP, asked participants if they would like to continue with regularly scheduled game nights. The resounding response from the participants was a desire for more events to gather in a safe space and have fun together.


Darling said Norman is a relatively safer place for transgender people to exist, with protections for housing and employment, which is different from the rest of Oklahoma.

Despite Norman’s protective laws, Darling said there are not a lot of other spaces where transgender people feel safe in groups.


For Darling, the necessity for events like a trans-friendly game night stems from stability.


“Knowing you have a place where you routinely go, where you’re going to be welcomed, and you don’t have to guess, 'Is this the day where I’m going to be bullied? Is this the place where people ostracize me for who I am?' The freedom of not having to worry about that is fantastic,” Darling said.


OU’s Gender and Equality Center offers several resources to LGBTQ students on campus, as well as training and learning opportunities for allies. The LGBTQ Program Advisory Board plans events each semester to foster a more inclusive community on campus, such as LGBTQ Health Week, Transgender Awareness Week and LGBTQ Progressive Dinner.


In addition to events on campus, the Gender and Equality Center established an LGBTQ Community Lounge in the Oklahoma Memorial Union in 2015 to create an inclusive space for LGBTQ students.


Bliss Brown, the Gender and Equality Center's programming coordinator, said the lounge provides students with a space to be themselves more comfortably.


“(It’s) a great place for students to feel like they have a space that’s theirs, and they can feel free to be 100 percent themselves and meet people who are similar identities there,” Brown said.


The lounge closed temporarily in early spring 2018, but it will reopen on April 30.

According to Brown, inclusive spaces such as the LGBTQ lounge are important so community members can gain visibility and find acceptance through people they have shared experiences with.


“It’s this idea of a found family, and I think a lot of our students who are LGBTQ find their 'found' family on OU’s campus. So having spaces where people can find their families is something that is really important,” Brown said.


Loot & XP's Trans Friendly Game Night offers free entry, with the option to purchase coffee, tea and snacks, as well as order food from Loot & XP’s food service partners, such as Pizza King and Billy Sims Barbecue. However, it costs $6 to play games the entire night.


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