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Home / Videos / Queer Coded Art Show Champions LGBTQ and Mental Health Services

Queer Coded Art Show Champions LGBTQ and Mental Health Services

by Mike Ciriaco
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Video Games have given us a myriad of heroes over the years, from the Super Mario Brothers to the Final Fantasy XV bromos. But Queer Coded gives us some new heroes, LGBTQ artists. 

Sponsored by Joystick, the monthly LGBTQ mixer at North Hollywood’s Player One barcade, the Queer Coded art show explores video game culture from a queer perspective, with 15% of its sales going towards charities of each artist’s choice. Donations will benefit queer-focused organizations such as The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Los Angeles LGBT Center, as well as general mental health non-profits like The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The need for mental health services is especially crucial for queer youths. According to a national survey conducted by The Trevor Project in 2021, over 40% of queer LGBTQ teens have considered suicide. In this vein, Jeb Whitlock, founder of Joystick and Queer Coded, “gayming” provides a therapeutic experience for troubled queer youth.

Jeb Whitlock, founder of the Queer Coded Art Show.

“I think there is definitely a level of fantasy and otherworldliness that they latch onto,” Jeb told us during a brief respite from his hosting duties at September’s Queer Coded event. “A lot of us, myself included, didn’t always have the most emotionally rewarding time growing up. A lot of us would retreat into these video game worlds to find solace, and I think we took that with us into adulthood.”

In addition to escapism, inclusion plays a crucial role in queer mental health. According to a study conducted by the Centre for Inclusion in Education, “feeling part of an LGBT community has a positive impact on mental health, emotional wellbeing, and quality of life.” The study also clarified, “despite there being a sense of solidarity among LGBT people, this did not mean that LGBT people are all the same.”

For Queer Code attendee Alex Margo, this art show is helping to carve a niche for SoCal’s distinct gay geek culture, apart from the go-go twinks of West Hollywood and the tattooed daddy bears of Silver Lake. 

Local “gaymers” attending a recent Joystick event at NoHo’s Player One barcade.

“There is a certain type when people think of the Southern Californian queer community.” explained Alex, “I think this represents a more diverse and different take on what it means to be queer in the area.”

While Queer Coded addresses many challenges within the LGBTQ community, for artist Timo Reese, this show is a celebration of queer positivity. 

Dead By Daylight, painted by Queer Coded artist Timo Reese.

“It’s important to have cool, fun times that aren’t about ‘oh gosh it’s so tragic to be queer.'” opined Timo. “Its great to bring out the personality of ‘we’re all nerds here, actually.’ I think it’s important to show not only the tragic side, but also the fun, nerdy, geeky side of the queer community.”

For future Queer Coded art shows, check out Joystick’s FB page for more info.


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