Update: Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), was kind enough to offer his opinion on the WBC's planned protest of GaymerX. He also confirmed that members of his organization plan on attending the event.
"Westboro mainly hunts for prime media opportunities to exploit, so it's clear the GaymerX organizers have successfully created a popular, buzz-worthy event where their attendees will no doubt overshadow Westboro's violent and shameful messages," Ferraro told us this evening.
Original Story: While it's no big surprise, the Westboro Baptist Church has renewed its promise to protest GaymerX, the first-ever LGBT friendly gaming event set to take place in San Francisco in early August. As detailed by the Huffington Post a little under a year ago, the WBC vowed at the time (during the event's crowd-funding efforts) that it would rally its forces to protest the event vigorously.
The Westboro Baptist Church is equally reviled by pro-LGBT organizations, church groups, politicians, bikers, and even those who oppose marriage equality. Most have no problem calling them a hate group. And it's not hard to understand why: WBC's protest targets also include funerals of soldiers who died in combat, celebrities, and members of the LGBT community.
Today in a tweet from the group's official Twitter feed (embedded below – warning: contains offensive language and images), they antagonized GaymerX organizers GaymerConnect with a renewed threat of a protest and some offensive anti-gay slogans.
The offending tweet form WBC:
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) July 19, 2013
We talked to GaymerConnect co-founders and GaymerX creators Matt Conn and Kayce Brown this afternoon about the possibility that WBC protestors might actually show up and cause trouble outside the event.
Kayce Brown told us that the biggest issue for organizers is the safety of those attending the event:
"Our first priority is safety," she told us this afternoon. "We will do everything to ensure the safety of our attendees."
Kayce also said that organizers have hired a security force to make sure that safety comes first, adding that "if they seek to really target anyone specific, it will be Matt or myself."
Judging by the tweet they sent out this morning, it seems that Matt and Kayce are popular targets for WBC.
Kayce added that bullying someone who has founded a convention about ending bullying and encouraging inclusion is probably not good for the organization's image:
"Bullying the founder of a convention whose mission is to fight bullying in the gaming space just makes them look even more ridiculous," she told us.
Of course, WBC doesn't really worry too much about its reputation or its image; it seeks to spread its divisive and incendiary message, reputation be dammed. And when it agitates someone enough to sue them the group goes to court arguing that it is exercising its right to free speech….
Finally we asked Matt Conn earlier in the day if he really believed that the WBC would really show up to protest GaymerX. He simply said, "Heck yeah."
At the end of the day the WBC probably doesn't realize that by protesting GaymerX they are simply drawing attention to the event and not their message (of course, anyone that has heard it once will likely tune it out anyway). The attention of WBC also speaks to just how far the event has come. GaymerX has gone from being a simple idea, to a crowd-funding success on Kickstarter, to a full-fledged event in one year. If the WBC didn't think it was an important events for the LGBT community they so clearly hate then they wouldn't show up in the first place…
You can learn more about GaymerX at gaymerconnect.com. Registration is still open but passes for the event are going fast. A regular badge ($45) will give you access to all the panels, the Dealer's Room, gaming rooms, the Saturday night dance, and the convention areas. A VIP badge ($135) will give you access to all the panels, the Dealer's Room, gaming rooms, the Saturday night dance, the convention areas and the Friday night VIP party. You'll also get a swag bag and a t-shirt.