Let’s Talk About TwitchCon 2018

img_3768

I had one of the most magical weekends of my life, just recently.

I was at TwitchCon from October 26th til the 28th, and I can’t even begin to tell you just how much the weekend meant to me. I’m going to try, but it’s going to feel like really expressive word vomit, because there’s just so much to say, and so many emotions that just want to push it all out.

I wouldn’t say I was nervous about attending this convention, but I was curious about whether or not I’d fall into some socially anxious moments. I had been to comic book conventions before, but that was with friends, and there wasn’t the added pressure of knowing I’d meet a ton of internet friends. Here, I knew I’d be meeting a ton of internet friends, as well as having the potential of people recognizing me from my Twitch channel. Sure, I’m not super well-known, but the potential was there, and my little introverted self wasn’t sure just how much social energy I could burn before my body decided it would be done.

When I arrived on Thursday to pick up my badge, I definitely needed a moment to process it all. So many people were hanging out in front of the convention center on Day 0 of TwitchCon, and a few people recognized me and came up to say hi, so all of it was a lot to take in. I’m not sure if it was the flight over here already making me a bit tired, which had already included me meeting two people I’ve gotten to know a bit through Twitch, plus a very popular Twitch streamer who makes a VERY comfortable living off of his channel (we’ll get to that, later), combined with the fact that I hadn’t eaten in quite a while, but seeing the sheer size of what this event would be left me shook. Don’t get me wrong, I was still excited, but I was nervous about whether or not I could keep up with the energy of it all.

Luckily, Thursday night kind of put it into perspective…when one of my favorite Twitch streamers shouted at me from a distance while I had chicken shawarma goop all over my face.

I hadn’t eaten for about 7 hours at that point, so I was in desperate need of some food. The person I was hanging out with originally was super tired from getting on an early flight to San Jose, so he opted to go to his hotel and rest while I went to go hang out with some fellow LGBTQIA+ streamers who invited me to dinner and drinks. I didn’t see them in the restaurant I was supposed to meet them at yet, so I went next door to a pretty cool market where they had several restaurants to get some food. Though I felt a tad strange about eating alone at an event where I felt like I had plenty of people to hang out with, I was starving, and I was going to be a useless shell of a human if I didn’t eat something soon.

I sat outside, eating this delicious chicken shawarma wrap, catching up on some social media, when I heard Negaoryx scream my name from the other end of the outdoor area we were in.

Though it wasn’t the first time I had been recognized that day, it was the first time someone recognized me in dim lighting from like, fifty feet away. I looked up to see that it was her, and thought “gurl you better wipe this chicken shawarma mess off your face right this very moment!” We hugged and I apologized for possibly having food on my face (which was probably unnoticeable, anyway), which I now realize is a dumb thing to apologize for, since chicken shawarma wraps tend to leave residue. But of course, she was sweet and fun and kind of the best, and meeting with her couldn’t have come at a better time.

I was terrified that the LGBTQIA+ streamers I was about to meet would think I’m much less cool than I seem on my Twitch channel, so my social anxiety was already on the rise. I think I brought up the fact that I had walked around in circles a few times because I didn’t see the group I was supposed to be meeting yet, so I settled for food by myself until I knew where they were, and I’m sure it became apparent to her that I was in my head about the event. She had to go meet a group as well, so she told me not to be afraid to approach her if I ever saw her around the convention, and I think something else about trying to let the social anxiety go, and then she glided off in her magical gown.

No seriously, it was magical:

img_3747
Me, hopefully with no more chicken shawarma goop on my face, and Negaoryx, real life fantastical sorceress

After feeling a bit renewed from eating and meeting someone I looked up to quite a bit, I made my way over to the restaurant where I met up with a bunch of streamers I admired…and another one of my favorites, a lovely drag queen named Deere. Like, the world just couldn’t give me a break from meeting amazing, talented people who give me inspiration? But that was the thing; that’s just what TwitchCon is. It’s meeting people you look up to time and time again, and though it’s always both exciting and a little bit anxiety-inducing, I think you just get accustomed to the anxiety part to the point where it doesn’t feel like it’s there, anymore (well, depending on who you are).

We had a great time, and though it took me a bit to open up, I was eventually able to interact with them in the same way I do with any other friends. I surprised myself with how naturally I was able to open up to them. It’s not necessarily that I have trouble opening up to people, it’s just that I have a hard time opening up to several people, in groups, multiple times per day. Introversion is fun, y’all! Though I do think our innate shared experiences of being queer gave us that base-level understanding with one another, so being able to open up to them really isn’t all that surprising, looking back on it.

I wouldn’t say that TwitchCon turned me into an extrovert, but it definitely helped me realize just how far I can push myself, socially. Because during the rest of the event, I found it so easy to approach people I knew on the internet, but was just meeting for the first time. Maybe it was because there was some sense of familiarity there already, due to us watching each others’ live streams, but it was so nice to feel like I so easily got along with everyone I met.

img_3772

The event itself was just so incredible, too. It felt like a bustling, chaotic home away from home. There was so much on the expo floor that related to gaming, streaming, and interests adjacent to those. There was also an artist’s alley, much like there is at most conventions like this one, where artists (who are also Twitch streamers) displayed and sold their creations.

There were several booths on the expo floor where you could play demos for games that were already out, or that would soon be released. There were also so many panels for improving your stream quality, how to be a better Twitch community member, tips on how to be a good community leader, and just about anything that could appeal to your interests as someone on a live-streaming platform. My personal favorite panel was the one on mental health and streaming, which had so much good information on creating content while also being kind to yourself. My biggest take-aways from that panel were that comparing yourself to avoid comparing yourself to others, focus on the good things you’re doing with your own channel, and know when to take breaks. Twitch is definitely its own thing when it comes to being a content creator, but it definitely had some amazing take-aways for anyone who’s in the creative world.

The other two panels that I went to that were also amazing were The Gayest Panel at TwitchCon (I mean like, of course I went to that one) and one on the art of makeup on Twitch, which was super cool to see as someone who doesn’t necessarily participate in makeup (though the panel sparked some interest in possibly experimenting with it? Who knows!) The Gayest Panel was amazing to see as a fellow queer streamer, knowing that we’re all linked through these similar experiences on the platform. Hearing their ideas on how they think queer presence on the platform will grow and move forward was also inspiring, mostly to confirm that me being overwhelmingly gay on stream is a good choice.

The makeup panel was also great, as it was fascinating to hear insight from people who use the same platform that I do for a different kind of creative medium. I’ve always been fascinated with makeup as an art form, but never have I really heard that kind of insight from people who do it so regularly as their means of entertaining others.

Seriously, y’all. TwitchCon has it all, when it comes to what you can get out of it.

img_3875
Me lookin’ kinda sleepy, Tolthe, RawVox120, Dirty_Meeper

Though the events at the convention itself were great, my ultimate goal was to connect with the people. I’ve met so many amazing people through Twitch, and there was something so magical about getting to see them all in person. There was a level of bonding we were able to achieve that, sure, can be possible on the Internet, but the quality definitely improves faster with those face-to-face interactions. And oh geez, did I have so many of these quality-improving moments when I was there. There were so many people I was excited to see, so many people I formed deeper bonds with, and so many people I hugged! Seriously! I’ve never been hugged so much in my whole life, and it was magical.

The thing about TwitchCon is that most of us are already so familiar with one another. We watch people do their live streams, which yes, can sometimes be a bit fabricated, exaggerated, or rehearsed when it comes to personalities, but ultimately, shows us a mostly unfiltered view of who they are. The fact that you can interact with the streamer directly through chat offers that direct line of communication, which has given us the sense that we’ve already come to know these people that we’ll be seeing at the convention. This was something I was initially a little nervous about, knowing I would be meeting so many people I had already talked to several times before, and feeling like they may not feel as good about my face-to-face interactions with them. Luckily, pretty much every meeting felt like a reunion with an old friend, so I was instantly more at ease with each time it happened.

img_3758
DragTrashly, ChaniChico, Deere, Angelxoxo, Cornfllake, PoppusT, Kevin, Kisos_tho, me being really heckin’ happy with all these rad queer streamers

I also met so many new people at TwitchCon, which wasn’t necessarily something I anticipated, but definitely had in the back of my head as a possibility. Even on the plane over to San Jose, I ended up sitting next to a streamer named Timmac, who has over 75k and is making more than a comfortable living through his channel, according to the Charlotte Observer. To those who aren’t super aware of how Twitch works, that’s an incredible feat! Some people stream for years and never have that kind of income from it, or even gain the viewership that would be able to yield that kind of revenue. When I saw this article, I realized I was sitting next to someone who had just the right combination of hard work and talent. Though I wasn’t aware of him until that day, it was amazing to get to meet him, and get to know him without the Twitch lens. Sure, we talked about being a streamer here and there, but it was really cool just to see who we was as a person before even seeing his channel.

Though I got a solid hour and a half with him, every other time I met a streamer for the first time was just as meaningful, as it felt like it was the beginning of a blossoming friendship. I don’t like to say that getting to know a streamer through Twitch is a less genuine way of getting to know them, but with all of the bells and whistles of the platform getting in the way, it can be hard to get a deeper sense of someone’s sense of self. They can be as authentic as possible on a livestream, but it doesn’t beat the magic of getting to talk with them in person.

img_3861
Left to Right: Minh Vogue, Mollydoesathing, me with a heckin’ cute panda, Sevendash, BotoCollin, Supercaliy, SRI_Deca, JoeyMarie

I knew the convention itself would be fun, but it was always about the people, for me. It was always about getting to see the faces of people who have supported me, the people who I’ve gained inspiration from, and the people whom I have yet to be inspired by. Not only that, but it was a mixture of strange and rewarding to have people recognize me, want to chat with me for a bit, and take a selfie with me. I don’t think we often realize what kind of influence we have as creators, so having people be so excited to see me was so surreal. The space I take up on Twitch can sometimes feel so small, but it’s moments like those that I realize the impact can be much bigger. I think being around this excitement helped center my thoughts around what my channel is serving on the platform, rather than how it exists compared to others. It didn’t feel like there was room to compare myself when there was so much kindness and support in that convention center.

Because of how much this trip impacted me, I’ve decided it’s no longer a trip I can afford to miss. The amount of inspiration and kindness at this convention is something I can’t miss out on, now that I know it’s there. It’s already sad, thinking that I might not see the people I met there for another year, so I don’t want to extend that for an extra year by any means.

Though every single person I met and interacted with was absolutely exceptional, I especially want to thank all of the queer streamers I met for all of the fun memories. I had already felt such a connection by interacting with them via Twitch, but getting to meet so many that I admire was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had, to this day. I have never seen a group of people be more kind and loving toward each other, and I think as long as we stick together and lift each other up on this platform, we can do anything we set our minds to. Don’t @ me for sounding so cheesy. I know I sound like an after school special, but let me be in my feelings! I deserve to get sappy!

Thanks for the memories, TwitchCon. Thanks for the renewed spirit, for impacting my life in the most unique way, and for sending me home with a full heart. I’ll be back, and next time, it won’t be with the looming sense of anxiety, but with the confidence that it will be just as amazing, or even more so, than the year before.

img_3838

(Want to see even more photos from the event? Check out my Instagram!)

Oh, Hey! I’m Published!

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 11.21.58 AM

You know that book I was going to be featured in? Well, it’s officially available for purchase!

You can order it directly from the publisher here, or if Amazon is more your style, you can order it from them here.

I worked quite hard on this piece, and though it’s hard to believe that I got published in this book full of super talented writers, I also know that my hard work paid off, and I’m thrilled to see that I’m talented enough to be among them.

As a reminder, the piece within the book focuses on some feelings around my mother’s passing, and how things will be different, moving on. I could say more, but that would be a spoiler!

I’m so thrilled that the book is finally available for y’all! PLEASE feel free to let me know what you think about the piece!

Moving

I’m moving.

Like, holy geez. It’s actually happening.

It’s not just a dream in my head. It’s like, reality, now.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve been wanting a place of my own ever since I got a taste of it during my college days. I wanted it ever since I had a job that was earning me a steady income, even though it wasn’t enough for me to be completely on my own. I still wanted it after my mom died, despite some depression making it seem like I didn’t desire it enough to do anything about it.

Inheriting her house was one of the best gifts, because it was like that final extension of her making sure I was safe, especially during a time where my whole world had changed. Though her death wasn’t sudden, it was still a shock, and the gift of her home gave me time to navigate out of that paralysis. However, the house has now become a crutch. It’s become a constant reminder of the past twenty-two years that I’ve been living in it. It’s a reminder of the fact that I was a child, then a teenager, then an adult in this home. These stages of my life don’t represent the full spectrum of who I am now, and living in a space where I used in those mindsets is a strange, debilitating experience.

I am an adult who does not want to live in a home where his entire life has taken place. I have so much to look forward to, so much ahead of me, that I can’t have a heavy past weighing me down.

As easy as it is financially to live in this house (especially as someone who’s investing in self-employment), it has been the worst for my mental health. Projects start, and don’t go anywhere. Ideas float away because I don’t have the energy or the feeling of self-worth to solidify them. I sit in front of the computer and use only willpower with no actual work to just hope that I get some words onto the blank document. This house has sucked all of the inspiration out of me. I have to drag its past along with me to get anything done, and that past has become too heavy.

Even just knowing that the move is days away is enough to feel inspired. I’ve flown through even just writing this post, which would have taken me a whole hour, if I were to write it a few months ago. The drive is there, knowing that my life is moving on. I feel the spark, ignited by a big change. In this new apartment, I picture myself writing thousands of words at a time, and having more energy than ever for my Twitch streams. It feels better than anything has in such a long time.

I told a friend this already, but I’m probably just going to cry the moment I’m finally settled in to this new apartment. I’ve had the weight of living in this house on my shoulders for too long, that I don’t remember what it’s like to be without it. It just might be one of the most beautiful things I’ll feel in this decade of my life.

I want to apologize to those who hoped to see more written content from me, lately. I especially want to apologize to anyone who supports me through Patreon, which you can use to help fund my creative endeavors, and receive exclusive rewards. Living in this house has really done a number on any kind of inspiration for the one thing I’ve been consistently passionate about, and I’m sorry that it meant affecting you all, as well. Believe me, I have tried time and time again to create new things that I am passionate about for you all, but the depression behind living in this stagnant space has really taken its toll. It has weighed me down to a point where I hate myself for saying I’m a writer. I don’t want to hate myself for not being able to fulfill a dream, anymore.

Thank you to everyone who continued to support me through this. Thank you to everyone’s kind words and positive vibes, especially about this big change in my life. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the feeling of things changing is there. I have to keep talking about it, or else it doesn’t feel real. Thank you for your assistance in making it feel real.

My Writing Is Getting Published!

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 11.21.58 AM

So you know how I was talking about the fact that I’m going to have some writing published in a book, soon? Well, that book is now available for pre-order! The book itself is a collection of excerpts from Arizona-based writers, in both fiction and non-fiction genres. I’m not only excited to see my excerpt in a solid, tangible book, but I’m also very excited to be featured along so many other talented writers!

The excerpt I wrote for the book discusses some feelings I had around my mother’s passing. A parent passing away is such an interesting (and yes, painful) time for introspection, and pondering about how life will be much different due to the fact that they’re gone. I had some complex feelings surrounding her death, and it was not only cathartic for me to get these words out into the world, but was cathartic to turn these feelings into a strong piece of art. I really did put my heart in it. I wouldn’t have submitted it if I didn’t stand strongly behind it.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering this book, here is the link that you can use to get a copy of your own! It will be out on October (date here), and I can’t wait for you to read it!

New Article on Medium! “Can’t We Just Be Friends?”

Just put up a new article on Medium!

I had noticed a trend of men in the queer community (especially gay men) putting too much of a focus on romantic/sexual attraction when it comes to forming any sort of connection with other queer men. This mostly came from experiences I’ve had on dating apps, but it was something I assume isn’t only isolated to being on the queer dating apps.

Here is a short excerpt from the article:

“It’s so easy to just blame ‘the apps’ for why we can’t find these queer friendships. They’re structured in such a way that seems to be geared toward sexual encounters and casual dating, but I think the responsibility is ultimately on us to create the connections we’re looking for (or at least make those first steps). I also realize that “the apps” are far from the only way to make queer friends. In fact, there are, most likely, several better ways to make connections with other queer individuals. However, I talk about these apps often because sometimes, that can be the most convenient resource we’ve got. While I would never say that people have to use the apps any certain way, why not keep yourself open to the idea of other possibilities? So maybe that guy didn’t want to have sex with you, but if you have a lot in common, why not just keep the conversation going? Sure, that guy isn’t interested in a date with you, but why not still go have coffee and talk about the shows you both watch? Why does the conversation have to end because there’s no potential of sex or a relationship? Why do we, as queer men, have to suggest to other queer men that we’re not worthy of attention or energy if they don’t want to have sex with us?”

Click here to read the full article! I would appreciate it so much! Let me know what you think about it, and share it with friends if you agree!

Some Well (Or Ill) Timed Imposter Syndrome

I’m not the only writer who compares himself to others. I’m not the only creator who feels like his creations are worse than they actually are. In the world of artistry and pulling ideas out of your head to turn them into a creative piece, looking at your finished product (and at times, your work-in-progress) and thinking “this is a pile of garbage” is just a part of the process. It doesn’t have to be, but it usually is.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been slinging out a bunch of hot, smelly garbage when it comes to writing. I can smell it even before it hits the blank document, and I immediately discourage myself from the idea that anyone else would even want to look at it. It’s been hard, because every time I finish the grueling creative process with my writing, I get such a damn rush that I can’t get from anything else. So feeling like everything I’ve been doing lately is subpar, plus seeing the success of so many other writers, makes me feel like I don’t have what it takes to let my creativity shine. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m quite ecstatic to see others succeed, especially when they’re other queer writers. However, I start to feel like I need what they have in order to succeed, and I talk myself down into thinking that I’ll never have it. Nevermind the fact that what they have and what I have can exist at the same time and be equally as successful; my brain thinks I just won’t make the cut.

This all changed when I just recently received this email:

IMG_2987

Okay well, I’m exaggerating. Not ALL of it changed, but it did take me a little bit out of the immense imposter syndrome I’ve been feeling for a bit. Like I don’t know if I actually deserve the success I get because I don’t believe I’m at the level of other successful writers.

I keep going through these motions of being a writer where I feel like the talent just isn’t there, like people are just saying I’m a good writer because it’s better than saying I’m a bad one. Even receiving this email (which, don’t get me wrong, I am THRILLED about it), I feel like I’m still just some run-of-the-mill gay writer on the Internet.

This publishing house wanted a short, 1250-word excerpt for their collection. I could have just combed through my old projects and sent one of those out, but what did I do, instead? I busted my ass to write a whole new piece from scratch. I didn’t have to, as I didn’t have that long of a time to write and edit a whole new piece to send to this publication, but I did it, and that work paid off. Yet, I still feel like it didn’t actually happen. Like maybe it’s going to slip away, somehow. How, exactly? I don’t know, but I keep feeling it.

Regardless, I’m trying to stay on the lighter side of it. This is my second publication I’ve gotten in to! That’s huge! I wouldn’t have been given this if there wasn’t talent in what I do. I worked hard for it, and I know I deserve it, and as long as I keep reminding myself of that, I know I can move forward and continue to put that energy into something bigger and better, so I’m going to do what I can to ignore the imposter syndrome, and keep writing the way I know I can. This may sound all kinds of cliché, but gurl, I just learned that I’m getting published. I can get a little sappy and cliché if I want to!

And believe me, I’m just getting started. I have bigger ideas that I will for sure be putting some good energy into, so once this imposter syndrome stops being so damn loud (which may never happen, but I’m feeling optimistic while writing this), the world will see just how mighty my pen can be! (Not a euphemism, ya nasties.)

Variety is Spicier Than You Think

produce variety
Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

I’m gonna sound like the biggest nerd, but I’m pretty sure that most people already think I am, so there’s really no going back, now.

I had this idea to pan fry some sweet potatoes as a side dish for dinner, this week. A novel idea for me, as this would be the first time I ever bought fresh sweet potatoes to cook. A lot of my side dishes will include some sort of grain (usually brown rice or quinoa) and a vegetable, so I get in this cycle of eating the same meal archetypes all the time. However, I recently remembered that, oh hey! I like sweet potatoes when they’re a little salty and crispy, so why not make my own sweet potatoes? I usually get sweet potato fries because they’re so easy to just throw in the oven, but there’s like, added sugar and stuff and I’m trying to limit the amount of processed food I eat, so this seemed like the next best thing. A little more work, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Now, the sweet potatoes are sitting in my kitchen, and I’m getting so damn excited to cook them. Like, I’m unrealistically excited to dice them up, add some salt (and maybe some rosemary), and cook them in a pan. Yeah, total nerd.

It seems like such a simple thing to get excited about, but it’s better than, y’know, not being excited about something, right? Like, here’s this nerd on the internet rambling about how he’s really excited to cook some sweet potatoes, and maybe you might think it’s weird or annoying that he’s rambling about his pan-fried sweet potatoes, but certainly it’s better than hearing about why he’s sad all of the time. Not saying that he’s necessarily sad, but maybe he’s just had a hard time finding that spice in his life. Maybe a few sweet potatoes are what he needs to remind himself to change things up, every so often. 

I think we can find ourselves doing the same things over and over, not really inspiring ourselves to try new things. Parents encourage their kids to try new things not just to make sure they actually eat a vegetable, but also to add variety and excitement to their food options. Meanwhile, as adults, we can still find ourselves eating the same things, going to the same restaurants, taking the same trips, doing the same activities with friends; all of these things can be fulfilling, but sometimes it adds some excitement to know that you’re about to try something new. As long as it’s a new thing that gets you excited, that could be all you need to add some of that spicy variety to your life.

Go to a new coffee shop to get work done. Meet your best friends at a restaurant none of you have tried, before. Try a new vegetable. Try a new dessert. Try baking a new dessert (even if you think you’re terrible at it, you could surprise yourself). Explore a new city in your state. Do something you’ve never done before, but maybe have always wanted to.

Just get out of that zone of familiarity and try something new. Even if it’s the most minuscule thing you can think of, and as long as it’s bringing that excitement of trying something new, get into it. Do that thing. Even if it’s just buying some sweet potatoes and throwing them in a pan, start changing things up on regular basis. Give yourself things to get excited about.