After the first gayming float joined the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade this month, QN Magazine contributor Wanda D’Parke asked Cairns entertainer Jack Foulstone about how he started as a gaymer, and how video games are helping LGBTIQ people find community.
Twenty-five-year-old Jack (pictured) moved from Grafton, New South Wales to Cairns in Queensland’s tropical north, attracted by the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and possibly even the constant influx of tanned and toned backpackers.
“Cairns has so much beauty. Everyone is welcoming. It’s also warm enough that I can drip-dry after a shower and save a towel.”
Hmmmm… now that you have that image firmly in your mind, dear reader…
Jack works in retail and also performs as Ella Minati at local LGBTIQ events. He’s well known as a former cover boy for north Queensland’s FNQ Magazine.
“Jay and Aaron from FNQ Magazine are my north Queensland family,” he said.
“Without their support, I would have headed back south years ago.”
But there’s yet another side to this young man.
At the age of five, he received a Super Nintendo for his birthday.
“When I picked up that controller, it was hard to put it down… no matter how loud my parents yelled, I never heard them,” Jack said.
“OK — I was ignoring them — but Mum still laughs about my favourite choice of weapon. Tiny Kong whipped her enemies with her long blonde hair. I was quite partial to that idea.
“I never wanted a club or a gun — I wanted long blonde hair so I could win battles with a flick of the head.”
I was intrigued, dear reader. I have played a few games in my time I can tell you, however, I have never been a gamer, or gaymer, as the case may be.
Nevertheless, gaymers make up a massive online community as evidenced by the Sydney Gaymers’ Final Fantasy XIV float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade last weekend.
Sydney Gaymers organiser Peak Distapan said, “For many LGBTQI+ people, online communities provide a space for the journey and exploration of personal identities.
“They allow us to connect, and celebrate, and they reinforce that we are not alone.”
I asked Jack about his gayming journey.
Twenty years after that first game of Donkey Kong, as Jack Went Rogue, he now live-streams his gayming. Let me explain, for others like me from the pre-gaming generation, that streaming is both big business and the base of a massive online community.
Streamers attract a video game audience by a combination of high-level play and entertaining commentary.
A camera faces them onscreen so fans can watch live or via video-on-demand and the streamer earns money from subscriptions and sponsorships.
“At the end of the day, as a streamer, you’re pretty much an entertainer. People watch, join in the chat, laugh, scream, or even play the game too!” Jack said.
“My favourite thing is the community. Everyone is super supportive, and we all help each other grow. I’ve made a lot of friendships and connections and that’s super important.”
I asked Jack his goals for the future, particularly regarding his passion for gaming.
“I’m a go-with-the-flow person. I plan to continue streaming and playing video games, and if that lands me a full-time position then GG to me (Good Game).”
Sashay, you play
“I also plan to bring my drag to Twitch. I’m inspired by two incredible drag streamers over in the US and I’m very excited I’ll soon be catching up with them at TwitchCon.”
Dear reader, I had to know more. A chance to perform online to a worldwide audience without taking my clothes off!
“Working as a streamer is a performance,” said Jack, “It’s putting on a show, and as Ella Minati, there’s nothing I like more than putting on a show.”
“I’ve noticed that a lot of queer people use streaming as a safe platform to explore identity. Some are on a personal journey of self-discovery.
“Others are just having fun, creating outrageous personas that sometimes include high heels, big crazy hair and hours of make-up.
“Of course, there are the occasional trolls who search out LGBTIQ streamers to vent their own frustrations with life.
“But Tiny Kong taught me as a five-year-old how to demolish them with a flick of my imaginary long blonde hair.”
TwitchCon, the event Jack is attending in the USA, is an annual convention where viewers connect with their favourite streamers, meet online friends face-to-face, and try out new technologies and games.
In the real world, you can find Jack or Ella bouncing around Cairns by day and night. Online, catch him at twitch.tv/jackwentrogue
QN Magazine | For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.