LFG Philly is bringing together members of the LGBTQ+ community through gaming

by Brian Bencomo

Michael Somkuti and Chris Compendio recently created LFG Philly because they felt a desire to do more for the LGBTQ+ community.

“As someone who’s a member of the LGBT community who’s nonbinary, I was talking with Chris one day about how we can bring together the gaming community because the LGBT community just faces so much discrimination within gaming that we were tired of it and wanted to create a space where people could just come together and just meet other members of the community,” Somkuti told Nerd Street.

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Both Somkuti and Compendio have backgrounds in gaming, so Compendio felt that gaming would be a great way to connect people in the LGBTQ+ community.

“To have a forum, to have a space where we can continue to build those connections and hopefully meet new people that way, I thought was just a great idea,” they said. “I still have memories as a child being in summer camp, and talking about games was kind of my friendship language, so it’s a good way to connect people.”

The group has met online a couple times via Discord, but with June being Pride Month, LFG Philly held its first-ever in-person meetup last week. LFG Philly’s Queer Gaming Night brought together nearly 20 people for a night of playing Fall Guys, Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

With Somkuti’s background in esports event organizing, an in-person meetup at a gaming venue like Nerd Street’s Localhost in Philly, also known as “The Block,” made a lot of sense.

Read more: The best events and tournaments at Localhost in May

“The Block is such an impressive arena,” they said. “I feel like having a space where it’s accessible for people who might not have gaming PCs or also just again want to be able to come together in a space that can support these kinds of gatherings is really cool.”

Compendio feels strongly about the value of connecting with people in-person rather than just online, so they were eager to host this event.

“Having discussions with like-minded people in the same room is really valuable,” they said.

Compendio was not only astounded by Localhost’s ability to provide a space for gaming but also as a space to promote discussions and social interactions.

Photo credit: LFG Philly

This isn’t just a one-time event for Pride Month. Somkuti and Compendio said they hope to have monthly in-person LFG Philly meetups. They want to rotate among the various gaming centers that exist around the Philly area to give members of their community a chance to experience different parts of the city.

This month’s meetup comes at an important time for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s not just because it’s coming during Pride Month, a time to celebrate and uplift the LGBTQ+ community, but also because of the hostility and hate that has recently been directed toward the LGBTQ+ community, including from within the gaming community.

“While there is a lot of bad stuff happening, there are people who are doing good things at the same time, and we just need to continue supporting those creators and members of the community,” Somkuti said.

Read more: Nerd Street CEO John Fazio named 2023 Philly Titan

Somkuti said they like to draw inspiration from people and things that are impacting the community in a positive way.

“It’s easy to doom spiral, but there are people that inspire me that I think about that really help me keep going,” they said. “One of those is definitely Dr. Kishonna Gray who is working on amazing games research and critical media study research.”

Somkuti also mentioned Kylie Gabor, a drag queen who’s hosting a monthly tournament for the LGBTQ+ community called SlayPex and Overwatch’s Calling All Heroes series of tournaments and initiatives for marginalized genders.

Compendio takes comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

“I just want people to remember that there are a lot of us,” they said. “There are a lot of queer people in games spaces, and we’re not just some minority to be pandered to by studios and corporations with the occasional Pride flag in their game or something like that.”

You can join LFG Philly’s Discord or follow the group on Twitter or Instagram.

Lead photo credit: LFG Philly

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