Twitch streamer Blizzbear on community, hate raids and his biggest inspirations / Queerty

Aptly described by Lifewire as both a “comfort streamer” and a “himbo,” Blizz — Blizzb3ar on social media — is the bi-gamer you didn’t know you needed. After a steady climb during the pandemic, Blizz now finds itself with thousands of fans across multiple platforms and a strong core community, all of which have grown together over the past few years.

We caught up with Blizz to talk about his journey, his supporters, and the streamers who inspired him to reach the heights he is today.

How did you start streaming and how did it develop into what it is today?

I started at Tumblr, but when Tumblr took the big step I went to Twitter. I started getting my Twitter followers when I was a part of #BiMenExist. It got me a lot of Like followers in February 2020, to the point where I was like, “Oh, I’ve got like 5,000 on Twitter…I could start Twitch streaming!”

I was looking for a community, looking for people who identified with me or looked like me in the gaming space. I wanted to cultivate that kind of community and I did that for a long time.

I was a product of the pandemic. I’ve only been creating content for two years now (my two year anniversary is on June 10th). I wanted to find other people because there weren’t many black individuals in the space I lived in IRL, and especially not many black queer individuals. There weren’t many people who could relate to the experiences I was going through. So I wanted to do this.

I wanted to find people like me because it was important to me to know more about myself and also to have people who corroborate my experiences. Streaming became more and more important to me and also taught me to put myself first, to say “no” and to set boundaries.

I ended up working for the government, but there came a point in my life when I realized I wasn’t happy anymore. I felt like I was in an area that didn’t really respect me and I couldn’t be uncompromisingly myself, so I resigned on February 2nd, 2021. Literally three days later, I was offered the opportunity to be a Twitch Affiliate. I’ve been verified, the purple tick and all. It looked like it was meant to be and that I made the right choice.

It seems like it worked out for you; You were on a billboard in Times Square?

I’ve been on two billboards in New York and two in LA. My mom said, ‘Oh my god, I’m so proud of you’ and I said, ‘Oh, you’ve never said that. Now I’m crying. What’s happening?”

How do you think your identity has affected how you interact with games and gaming culture in general?

It makes me see more of my identity in gaming. I’ve noticed in the games that gain the most traction that there’s not a lot of weirdness. They’re not really geared towards the queer community, which sucks because I want to see myself in the game.

I don’t know if I’ve seen myself successfully in a game. I’ve played queer games, or games with queer tones, and it got me interested in playing the game. That’s versus, I don’t know, let’s say gloriole; I am in love gloriolebut there is no strangeness in it gloriole. It doesn’t make me want to play it that often.

When you see yourself in a video game or something is represented, you feel more like a part of it. It works with video games, it works with streamers that you see on a platform, and it also works with Twitter.

That was one of the reasons I wanted to join Twitch; I haven’t seen many streamers who look like me or identify similarly to me. Little did I know at the time that the only reason I didn’t see this was because Twitch wasn’t necessarily emphasizing these creators. They wanted to highlight the straight white cis men who play gloriole or cash on delivery [Call of Duty] or so. I don’t know what straight people play to be honest.

Who were some other streamers that really gave you a sense of community?

DataDaveTV is one of the first creators I saw and it was really cool to see a black queer person just running across the room. It was so comforting and made me want to actually try it, like, “Hey, I think I could do that too.” In April, I finally got to meet him in person.

There are many creators who have helped me be confident and create a community of learning and understanding like MiladyConfetti and CriticalBard. I just had a chat with CrubTV and Detune on stream last night where I spoke about what it’s like to be a content creator and our fears and hopes for the future. People who are honest with each other make me really happy. People who care deeply about their communities also make me very happy.

What would you say to queer people who think they can’t find community in this space?

There’s a community out there! It sucks that we have to search to find it compared to straight people who can walk into a room and automatically know a room is for them. It often happens that we need to test a space and see if a space is right for us, but I promise you there is a space out there.

Damn, if you want to come to my room, then it’s for you! If you are queer this is for you. It’s difficult because the world isn’t made for us, but we’re constantly making room for ourselves.

You’ve already talked about the disproportionate attack of hate on queer and marginalized YouTubers on Twitch. Can you tell us a little about what hate attacks are and how you fight them?

I actually got hatred yesterday, so yes, I can talk about it. I have now been attacked by hate six times in my life. The one that happened yesterday, someone paid money – which is wild for me – to create about 5000 bot accounts to hijack my channel with inappropriate names, names containing or alluding to racial or homophobic slurs or whatever.

There will also be follow bots in large numbers, meaning they get a bunch of bot accounts to mess up your notifications by following your account all at once. I had 25,000 bots following my account at the same time. I usually have a notification that says, “Thank you for following!” Imagine that happens 25,000 times. You need to turn it off, make sure you delete all…. It’s a very wild time.

I was actually actively attacked by a white supremacist on another site; They went through Twitch accounts and looked at people living under the queer tag only to send their community over to hate them and insult them. People are so bored!

I have set up many resources to help me counteract the hate attacks; My mods have been trained to counteract the hate raids and every time something happens they literally pop into our discord and say hey hate raid time lets go and we’ll get into that in maybe including deal a minute. This is really nice.

I’m just trying to be uncompromisingly myself at the end of the day. I’m just trying to provide content for people. I do nothing to harm anyone. What ever. at all. All I do is create a space for queer individuals, but is that such a threat?

It’s kind of scary because at that point people can see you on the internet and just want to harm you. That also comes with swatting. A few of my friends have been beaten online, especially by hate raids. They sent very inappropriate things to her address because someone tried to reveal her address. Apparently they hated them so much because of their weirdness or because of their skin color that they wanted to harm them in some way. That’s just too ridiculous for me. How do you all look at yourself in the mirror? how do you sleep at night Because that’s shitty behavior.

What is currently the most fulfilling aspect of your streaming career?

I think about two months ago I realized that I’m a successful streamer because I started seeing success in a very different way. You can look at success based on the numbers you get, or the followers you have, or the earnings you make. At this point I’m self-sustaining, which is really great, but how I measure my success is the impact I have on people.

At the end of the day, as long as I’ve impacted a person with the words I said, or with the education we learned together chatting, or if I’ve made someone’s day better, I like even a comment that I am a successful streamer. I wished for that.

Something that has been really good for me about this whole journey is knowing that I’ve been a part of these people’s lives for over a year now and it’s so cool to just kind of see them at the beginning of my streaming careers were and how they are now and the confidence they have. You’re so good at setting boundaries now. I like to think I contributed to that.

And you and your community have grown together.

They also want to actively engage new people, which is really cool. I don’t have to do most of the work because they’re already like, “Oh my god, new people, hello! Walk in, welcome, take a seat. You’re cute, let’s vibe.”

I also truly believe that you get back whatever energy you put out in the first place, and the energy I put out is an energy of transparency, an energy of learning, and an energy of kindness and mutual respect. I got this back in my community which is so cool.

I never want my community to think I’m just a streamer – a human being. At the end of the day, I have feelings and I’m not afraid to express and communicate what I’m feeling. It’s just nice; The community itself is nice. I feel like I’ve literally struck gold with the people I have.

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