June is the month dedicated to Pride and queer people, with the first march starting way back, all the way back in 1970, after the so-called Stonewall riots that took place in June and July 1969. Pride month just became an official iteration Most recently, it was recognized as “Gay and Lesbian Month” by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and then by President Barack Obama, who expanded celebrations to include the entire LGBTQIA+ community in 2011. But June has been queer pride month for much longer than that, and it’s ingrained in communities around the world.
The internet is now one of the go-to places to celebrate Pride Month and to connect with queer individuals, who often find great representation within it Pull out Streamers and content creators that provide a safe platform for everyone to be themselves. Among them, Veronica “Nikatine” Ripley stands out for her popularity and for always being ready to raise the voices of LGBTQIA+ people of her peers, especially minorities like people of color and transgender people. Game Rant spoke to Nikatine about what it takes to come out, be a queer Twitch streamer, and more.
Last year Game Rant launched a Pride Month Streamer Spotlight, which we’re excited to continue this year with several new streamers.
Nikatine’s coming-out experience and the balance between private life and online presence
Nikatine’s grasp dates back to when she came out to her father when she stated that she wanted to be called Veronica, hence the abbreviation for it “Nika” and the rest is history. However, Nikatine wasn’t done coming out and discovering her own identity, recently sharing a tweet with another coming out story about being gay and in love with a woman. Still, her second coming out wasn’t easy as it meant taking care of sponsorships and managing her personal life in contrast to her online presence.
Luckily, coming out isn’t always a traumatic experience, and Nikatine found all the love and support she hoped for in her community and friends. No matter how challenging that experience was, it was also liberating to finally take a load off their shoulders and not feel like they were hiding anything and keeping a secret from those who support them when the need arises. This also allowed Nikatine to set boundaries on what does and doesn’t go public, including her friend’s identity.
I thought long and hard about coming out like this because I was nervous not only about the deterrent effect it would have on my career, but also about the impact it would have on my personal life with my partner, who is very important to me. I realize that I have something very special and I don’t want to spoil it, I don’t want to share my nice personal relationship with everyone. As a content creator, I’m almost forced to commodify every aspect of my life.
Nikatine’s comparison of tanking in video games and protecting others from haters
Resilience is often not something humans can learn, but rather an innate ability, a trait that one just has, but Nikatine’s story says otherwise. When she first started streaming, Nikatine was concerned about the things haters and trolls might say to hurt her, which is often a reality on social media and platforms like Twitch. Being an openly queer person can be very rewarding, but it can also attract the wrong people to the streams, who can say pretty much anything they want in chat.
However, Nikatine’s negative experiences became a way for her to become indifferent to haters, and instead they helped the streamer create an incredibly safe environment for herself and her followers, thanks to the efforts of a team of moderators and the tools offered by Twitch. It is telling that Nikatine describes her experience and current role as that of a tank in video games, the character who protects teammates.
I find it shameful that there is so much trans bullying, but I also recognize that the internet is a wild west at the moment. Unless there are fundamental changes in the way we work online, there is no really good solution for this. I’m willing to accept that sometimes people will say mean things to me. It’s like refueling in video games. I like to fill up for other people because I don’t get emotional about it.
What can change to improve the lives of LGBTQIA+ people
Although the world is in a much better place when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights and safety than it was a decade ago, there is still work to be done and so many positive changes yet to be made. Nikatine strongly believes that the narrative of trans people and other minorities needs to be told from her perspective, as it’s the only way to have a metaphorical seat at the table when important discussions are taking place, be it about legislation or something else. There’s also not a lot of trans representation in the media, although some shows and films are finally starting to feature trans actors and actresses for trans roles, which is a great way to tell authentic stories.
Pride Month is the perfect time to raise the voices of the people who are little heard throughout the year, and it’s the perfect time to make those minorities more accepting too. Because of this, Nikatine finds being a queer content creator on Twitch extremely rewarding as she takes advantage of the platform’s reach to positively impact other people’s lives and that makes all the difference.
I really want to reiterate that we are only ever as safe as the least safe of us, we are only ever as free as the least free of us. I want to see changes in the way we discuss queer issues. I would like to see more diverse representation of LGBTQIA+ people. I think that conversations about trans people really should be told from trans perspectives. Many people who discuss trans issues tend to do so from a very theoretical point of view.
What Nikatine would like to see on Twitch in the future
While Twitch is constantly improving its means of protecting its streamers, there is still a long way to go. Something Nikatine would like to see is a collective blacklist that content creators can access to ban accounts in it that belong to people who have been hateful or trolled other streamers. Something like this is already possible on Twitter and through third-party sites, by allowing anyone to subscribe to that specific blacklist and avoid awkward interactions without ever having to deal with it firsthand.
What Nikatine is suggesting is that there should be a team-based blacklist, or maybe one that’s simply an opt-in feature that content creators can subscribe to if they want, so that one’s experience doesn’t have to be everyone’s. Twitch has already taken important steps in the right direction with its moderation tools, and blacklists would help protect minorities and LGBTQIA+ communities, which would be invaluable in modern times.
Twitch is great at dealing with really bad accounts, but like any system, there are always people who slip through the cracks. I would really love a system where we can subscribe to a general blacklist. If your team has a block list, you might be able to block all of the same people across all of your channels at once. For example, if I ban someone from my chat, that person will be banned from all chats on the team.
Check out more Pride Month Streamer Spotlights
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