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Red Raccoon Games partners with Prairie Pride Coalition for a LGBTQ+ friendly game night

Red Raccoon Games will host a Gaymer's Night' on Jan. 29.
Emily Bollinger
Red Raccoon Games will host a Gaymer's Night on Saturday, Jan. 29.

A game store in downtown Bloomington is hosting a game night specifically for the LGTBQ+ community.

The “Gaymer's Night” at Red Raccoon Games will feature a number of tabletop board games, food courtesy of the Prairie Pride Coalition, and information on local LGTBQ+ resources in the area. The event is 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the business, 309 N. Main St.

Bryan Hinman, a volunteer organizing the event with the Prairie Pride Coalition, said the intent behind the event is to create a welcoming environment.

RedRaccoonGames entrance
Emily Bollinger
Red Raccoon Games will host a 'Gaymer's Night' on Jan. 29.

“The idea is how to create a family-friendly atmosphere for people in the LGBTQ+ population. In terms of where they can feel safe, be themselves, and allies as well; where everyone can have a nice safe space to enjoy something I find really fun,” he said.

Hinman describes himself as an avid tabletop gamer, adding he was inspired to create “Gaymer’s Night” after he attended Gen Con, a convention in Indianapolis, where he saw other organizations dedicated to the idea and wanted to bring it to Bloomington-Normal.

“I thought why don’t we have that in Bloomington-Normal? How do we get that going? So that’s where I talked to David Bentlin with Prairie Pride Coalition. It was very helpful, as well as Jamie Mathy, the owner of Red Raccoon Games,” he said. “Together, putting all our heads together, we kind of came up with this kind of pilot launch of at least starting small with just an event like this.”

Bentlin, president of the board of directors of the Prairie Pride Coalition, said the purpose of creating the “Gaymer” group was to get together like-minded folks to have some fun.

“We felt this was a great opportunity to come to reach out to our LGBTQIA+ population and offer them an activity where they could get together and share a common interest,” he said. “It's become much more urgent that people make sure that they have those opportunities to feel connected to other people, who shares the same interests, who are members of the LBGTQIA+ population.”

“We're looking at these groups as, again, ways of reaching out to our community and helping them to feel connected to each other; but especially, to feel connected during a very challenging time in all of our lives when we're feeling sort of isolated because of the pandemic,” he added. “It's our hope that these groups will help them feel more connected with our community and will help them through a really challenging period of time.”

The “Gaymers” group was created in the fall of 2021 when it hosted the first “Gaymer’s Night.”

Hinman and Bentlin said the response was very positive during the first event, and there was a good turnout. This time around, Hinman hopes the event brings more attendance, but understands some hesitation due to the pandemic.

In order to attend the event, Red Raccoon Games is requiring proof of vaccination and registration on the Red Racoon Games website.

Bentlin said moving forward they hope to make it at least a quarterly event.

“If we get increased attendance along the way, I could see where maybe we would want to increase the frequency of the session. Possibly move to a larger location if they outgrow the Red Raccoon Games facility,” said Bentlin.

Maritza Navar-Lopez is a student reporting intern at WGLT. She joined the newsroom in 2021.