Let the Gay-mes Begin
by Ronni Radner
It’s certainly no secret that queers of all stripes are lovers of puzzles and games. The brilliant documentary Wordplay (out on DVD November 7) featured not only an openly gay crossword-puzzle constructor (Trip Payne, whose puzzles have graced the pages of Games magazine, among other publications) but also a segment with the dynamic dyke duo the Indigo Girls, who declare their fondness for working on that “Cadillac of Crosswords,” the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.
Board games are a tradition in the GLBT community too. Who hasn’t sat with several of their best buds and played a rousing round of Trivial Pursuit (obviously a homo game, what with its rainbow of pie pieces and the entertainment categories always in pink), Taboo, Scattergories, Balderdash, or Scrabble? At New York’s GLBT Center, a queer group with the moniker Board Stiff meets regularly for gaming get-togethers and a little healthy competition.
As a bona fide board-gaming geek and someone who has worked in GLBT media for quite some time and has a good knowledge of queer culture, I was excited to hear about the new board game Homogenius: The Game, which bills itself as “the gay and lesbian trivia game.” Players start the game “in the closet”; the board features depictions of items typically found in a gay man’s (or maybe a lesbian couple’s) closet, like cowboy boots, heels, athletic gear, and fluffy slippers. The object of the game, which comes in a really cool, trunklike box, is to “come out of the closet” by answering the most trivia questions correctly before your opponents.
For some inexplicable reason, question cards (there are 355 in all) are divided into “Rumor” and “Potpourri,” but many of the “Rumor” cards aren’t about rumors at all (Q: Who plays the mother of Jack McFarland’s biological son on Will & Grace? A: Rosie O’Donnell).
Some of the “Rumor” cards could’ve stood a little fact-checking too; one card poses the question, “What lesbian author wrote Lesbian Out of Carolina?” (Gee, we’ve never heard of that book, but it was award-winning author Dorothy Allison who wrote the brilliant novel Bastard Out of Carolina.)
Some of the “Potpourri” cards aren’t much better: There’s the uninformed definition “A lesbian who prefers male dress,” to which the provided answer is “butch.” (Do we really have to point to stars like the aforementioned Rosie O’Donnell, who probably shops at Lane Bryant and in the women’s section of Old Navy, to explain to the question’s author that butches don’t necessarily wear men’s clothing?)
Then there’s the guffaw-inducing party question, “What does a protease inhibitor lower?” A: HIV blood levels. That’s a fun stumper, eh? Hey, who doesn’t enjoy their prescription medication trivia? If you really want a shot at winning the game, just bone up on your Will & Grace; there are about a half-dozen “Who plays so-and-so on Will & Grace?” questions.
To be fair, I should note that the game was not actually created by queers; it was invented by a straight-but-not-narrow woman named Marianne Trani, who wanted a fun game to play with her gay brother. Ms. Trani gets an A for her effort, and we surely love homo-friendly heteros, but the game is poorly executed, loaded with embarrassing errors, and old-fashioned (most female comics really preferred to be called “comedians” rather than “comediennes” these days).
This game player’s gonna stick with Trivial Pursuit to get her piece of the pie.