There has never been a better time to be a queer Dungeons and Dragons fan, but let’s be honest: not all groups are safe or inclusive. In this blog series, I ask queer D&D fans about their experiences playing TTRPGs and what they think could be done to make the gaming experience better for all.
I first discovered Diana (she/they/he) in the Adventuring Academy podcast episode “Give People More Room (with Diana Gaeta).” I loved their unapologetic preference for story and character over gaming rules, and when I learned that they had a podcast of their own, I immediately binged the entire catalogue of Femsplained (my particular favorites are the episodes on Dragon Age, Indie TTRPGs, and of course, Black Sails!). I’m so honoured that Diana agreed to be interviewed for Roar Cat Reads, so without any further ado:
Diana, when did you first play Dungeons and Dragons?
I first saw a game being played when I was in middle school, but was told it was boys only, so I angrily avoided the game for years after that. I think the first time I played D&D specifically was when I was just out of college.
Do you currently play D&D? What is a recent memorable moment that you would like to share?
I do still play D&D with my home game group that’s been going for about 3-4 years now. Every moment with them is special, but one in particular is the first time I ever saw this group get deeply invested in their characters. They were all new to TTRPGs in general, and in the beginning everything was very silly and loosey-goosey. Then I reintroduced a character from someone’s backstory, and for the first time saw them start pacing around my living room, trying to figure out what to do, and what to say. It was like a light switch flipping on.
Have you experienced any differences playing D&D with queer folx vs. straight groups?
In general, yes. I don’t love being fully openly queer or playing characters that are in groups where I’m the only queer person. It feels too vulnerable and uncomfortable, even when I love and trust the folks I’m playing with.
When you DM, how do you create a queer-friendly atmosphere in your group?
Step one is being loud and upfront about my own identity, that tends to drive away people that won’t contribute to a safe table. Next is including pronoun introductions as a normal part of the character creation process for everyone. Safety tools and checklists also help.
What is your favorite aspect of playing D&D?
Getting to explore new parts of myself and to create stories with people.
What is your favorite aspect of DMing?
Seeing the excitement on people’s faces when you surprise them with something cool, or when you say yes to the cool-as-hell thing they just thought up, or when they figure out the mystery you put together.
Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to try playing or DMing D&D? Any tools that you recommend?
Random generators got me through my first year of DMing. Donjon.bin.sh is the greatest thing on earth.
And finally, if you could change one thing about Dungeons and Dragons culture, what would it be?
Wizards of the Coasts entire upper management team needs an overhaul, and they need to actually vocalize dissent against the “old guard” who harass people in the hobby (and in the MtG hobby as well).
Thank you, Diana!
If you are a queer person who plays or DMs/GMs Dungeons and Dragons and you would like to be interviewed, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.