Armageddon descended on Melbourne last Saturday, with geeks from across the state gathering for one of Australia’s biggest pop culture conventions. This year’s Armageddon featured an Australian first—a panel on LGBTI geek culture.
Queer Geeks of Oz, hosted by Sonja Hammer from LGBTI radio station Joy 94.9’s dedicated geek show Sci-Fi and Squeam, got together a panel of the best and the geekiest from Australia’s queer community.
Hammer said the panel came about in part through her contact with the US-based group Geeks OUT!, who gained international exposure earlier this year with their boycott of the film Ender’s Game based on the novel by homophobic author Orson Scott Card.
“I wondered why I was doing the show at Joy—I was being called a freak by people in the gay community. I laughed it off, I didn’t think it was a political issue,” Hammer told the Star Observer.
Hammer said engaging with Geeks OUT! has helped her interest in geek culture evolve into something more political as she asked questions about why geeks are marginalised in LGBTI communities, often by people who themselves experience marginalisation.
Hammer argued the appeal of geek culture for many LGBTI people lies in the opportunity to escape into fantasy worlds and play out different roles.
Joy 94.9 and Bent TV personality Dylan Adler was also on the panel, and said the panel hopefully gave a voice to people often marginalised in geek communities.
“The importance of us having the panel here is so people can have their voices heard..I’m hoping we can grow as a queer community and maybe get some straight allies as well,” Adler told the Star Observer.
“At the end of the day there are still going to be trolls out there that live for the put-down, but the important thing is to keep your head held high. When I was in high school it was a bad thing to be a geek, but I was still a proud geek. I’m a proud gay man. So it’s a big thing just to be able to have pride in your geek queer identity.”