Kyle, 23, sits down with the EMHC to discuss life as a “gaymer,” how apps have affected the way we interact, and his thoughts on open relationships.
Take your time. Don’t feel pressured. As much as I know I wish I could have come out earlier, I think the fact that I took that time has made me happier now.
So you moved to Edmonton from Vancouver. We usually hear about it the other way around. What’s one thing that you loved about Vancouver that’s missing here and vice-versa?
Vancouver has a really interesting feel to it; partly because I was in university, but the culture is really young and hip and open and cool… I still kinda miss it. But Edmonton is an up-and-coming city. It’s a place that hasn’t really established itself it. But I like it because you can see all of these cool little places popping up.
My first week here one of my coworkers who is openly gay said, “Hey, come meet my friends.” That was my first week here. Then after that there are things like Fruit Loop which is amazing… I personally, so far, like the gay community here better… Right now my experience here has been far more positive than in the Vancouver community. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but I just feel much more a part of this here.
You’re a pretty big “gaymer” right? So, what do you love so much about it?
Partially, I just grew up on it. I know I’m decently good at and I enjoy it. It’s always a good stress release for me. I rarely game with other people. It’s usually “me” time – introvert time – so for me I find it really positive to decompress that way.
So, is it kind of like a self-care thing?
Yeah, self-care mostly. But I also see it in the same way that someone would sit down and watch a movie. I enjoy the art of it. I like how you can get lost in it, just like you can get lost in a good book, a good narrative. And the strategy part, for me, it’s an intellectual challenge. It’s got a little bit of everything.
There’s been a lot of controversy within the gaming community as of late – I’m thinking of “Gamergate” – related to misogyny and homophobia and whatnot. Are these things you notice in the gaming community?
In terms of misogyny and homophobia, yeah… It is still a very young group. So on the online games most of the people who speak out are 15 or 16 year old boys and we know they’re not necessarily the most inclusive… I think the demographics are changing a bit but it’s really in the early phases. Things are starting to change – different types of people and different body types being represented. But again, it’s just the start.
On Coming Out
How old were you when you came out?
I was 20.
Oh, so a late bloomer.
Yeah. My third year of university. Very late bloomer.
Did you know for a long time?
It was a rocky road for a while… you think about it and you’re like, “No,” and you kind of push it away and get quite angry about it… Second year was a kind of, more of an experimental phase. And then by third year I was like, “Yeah, this is a thing.” And, now, here we are!
How did your friends and family react?
My friends were either like, “Yeah, we know” or “Okay cool” and just carried on…
Not all of my family knows… My parents know and they’re still working on it. My mom and I actually had a really good talk that kind of changed my opinion about why she was struggling with it for a while. It was more because she grew up in the 80s which wasn’t really a good time to be gay… She was worried. But I told her I haven’t really been discriminated against and have never had issues. And she was like, “Oh, okay.”
I think she had this image of, if you’re gay then you’re going to face all of this discrimination, which is fair based on when she grew up. So they were more worried about me… and now that I’m doing okay, I think it’s really changed the way they see it.
So, it’s been 2-3 years at this point. If you were talking to someone who’s still in the closet or brand new to the scene, do you have some advice that you’d share with them based on your experience?
Take your time. Don’t feel pressured. As much as I know I wish I could have come out earlier, I think the fact that I took that time has made me happier now. Because if I had been open without really having been ready for it, then that would have been more of an issue, with me just being uncertain through all of that. So, just take your time.
And for someone who’s new to the scene, just know who to trust… it’s very easy to get lost in it. So, stick to your guns and know what you want… I think for someone new you can get really caught up in it… But you’re still who you are. Don’t change for anything – unless you want to.
On Apps, Boys, & Relationships
You’re pretty young. So, did you notice the shift to online dating and hookup apps or was that already there?
It was already there. That’s all I’ve known… Sometimes you’re like, “How do you meet people outside of that?” Because that’s where you start. It’s where you experiment… I came out when Tindr was just starting to pick up speed. So, it was perfect timing but, yeah, that’s really all I’ve known.
How do you think that might impact our ability to connect at a deeper level? Like, can you imagine walking up to a guy at the bar and striking up a conversation or asking him out? Is that even on the table?
I’ve always dreamed of doing it. I’ve never been able to because it terrifies me. But if I saw the exact same guy on an app it’d be easy… It’s unfortunate because you realize the apps aren’t really that good… The first time you see them in real life, it’s a whole different kind of level. You can converse really well online but it’s totally different in person, so it’s an awkward first meeting. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to keep going this way. But I want to be able to do that, be the first to strike up a conversation. Just not yet.
I don’t know how credible it is but there are all of these “articles” popping up in my news feed about how monogamy is dead in the gay community. What are your thoughts on open relationships?? Would you be in one? Do you think that’s now the norm, and is just eventually going to happen if you’re in a long-term relationship?
It’s very interesting because I’m currently in that situation – as in, the additional person in an open relationship… it’s not like an official thing but… it’s interesting.
But in terms of open relationships… I think I’ve seen it so often in so many gay relationships. So, as long as everyone is okay with it, sure. For me, it would be later on down the road. In the first few years it would be, “No way.” I’d want to take the time to make sure we’re comfortable with each other. But at the same time, I know it’s good and I’ve seen a lot of people do it and it can be a really positive thing… It’s a very adult thing to have. It’s not something you can just jump into.
It almost a sign of maturity, being able to deal with that…
Communication’s important and knowing where you’re at. There’s a lot involved… But yeah, maturity is definitely needed.
So, what does the future hold for Kyle? What’s the dream?
I’m doing my Masters come fall… in digital humanities but I’m studying gaming. The ideal is that I’ll do that and then do my PhD and do gaming research because gaming research is so underdeveloped in academia and I want to be the person to help grow that.
Ideally meet someone nice. That’d be great… Then ideally get a corgi. That’s my second or third goal in life. And the corgi can replace the boyfriend. That’s fine.
Lastly, if you could tell the queer community in Edmonton one thing, what would it be?
If Edmonton grows bigger, don’t change with that. Don’t become the big city. Don’t lose this feeling that’s happening now.