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Celebrating Pride Month and supporting LGBTQ+ mental health

June sees Pride Month celebrated all around the globe, and the games industry certainly has a lot to celebrate when it comes to progress in LGBTQ+ representation.

As an example, June will fittingly see the launch of one of the most anticipated games of this year and has an LGBTQ+ lead: The Last of Us Part: II. The team at Naughty Dog haven’t shied away from showing that Ellie is a gay woman, and it appears as if this will be a very present theme in the series’ second game. In an interview with Eurogamer, Vice President of Naughty Dog, Neil Druckmann, rightly says that the game aims to “normalize what is normal”. From The Last of Us to Life is Strange, Mass Effect to Stardew Valley there’s an ever growing list of games that positively feature LGBTQ characters. Conveniently, there’s even a Wikipedia article dedicated to tracking LGBTQ representation in games if you want to find something new to play.

And it’s not just the games themselves that are becoming more diverse. A recent UKIE Games Industry Census found that a staggering 21% of UK games industry employees identified as LGBTQ+. For comparison, estimates for the percentage of the national population that identifies as LGBTQ+ range between just 3% and 7%. Even conservatively, this suggests that the UK games industry is 3 times more diverse in this context.

The same census, however, highlighted that LGBTQ+ employees over indexed in reporting problems with mental health, particularly anxiety and depression. In fact, bisexuals and non-binary/’other’ reported the highest levels of anxiety and depression by quite a significant margin. Unfortunately, it is a universal statistic that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to suffer from poor mental health at some point in their lives, and game makers are not exempt from this sad reality. This is why we need to continue to strive for improvements in mental health in this industry, both in terms of content created, discussions held and support made available.

Importantly, we need to recognise a need for intersectionality in mental health offerings. This is true of most, if not all, social/political identities. We need to understand that our ability to access mental health resources can be affected by elements of our identity, whether that be LGBTQ+, BAME, disability, and so on. By creating specific mental health resources for particular groups, we can lower the bar of accessing help. As an example, Stonewall found in 2018 that 1 in 7 LGBT people avoid seeking healthcare for fear of discrimination. Whilst we have extensive resources available on our website, we have work to do on ensuring that we source information and help highlight organisations that represent this intersectionality.

For International Pride month, we have expanded our LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resources page to include links to dedicated LGBTQ+ Mental Health organisations. If you have any favourite resources you think we should know about, please reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Equally, we always want to hear about your favourite LGBTQ+ games, so send your suggestions our way.

Happy #Pride gamers, and here’s to another year of celebrating the wonderful contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to our industry.