“It’s a Safer Space” – Interview with Jamie McGonnigal

Jamie McGonnigal is the first to admit that he’s not exactly a household name in anime dubbing, but he still sees himself as having an important mission: creating spaces at conventions where LGBTQ youth and adults can meet and be themselves. At his conventions, he hosts panels about queer culture and its intersection with anime and its fan community, seeking to educate and inform fans. Outside of conventions, he works as an activist and organizer for a variety of causes, especially ones that affect the LGBTQ community.

CM: What do you think the anime community in particular has to offer LGBT youth?

JM: So very much. The fact that they have positive, good portrayals of LGBTQ characters in anime is a huge step in the right direction. I think we could do better – I think we could have the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters as the lead characters. That would certainly be nice, have the stories revolve around them and make LGBTQ youth feel a little bit more included, like they can be the star.
I think that cons in particular are such accepting, great places for folks. I’m not very famous, I get it, but I can use the little bit of notoriety I have to come to cons and put on panels focused on It Gets Better and and they end up being kind of support groups. These folks who are often in the same area get to meet and realize, “Hey, there’s other people like me who are not only into anime but also LGBTQ.” They form communities. I still hear from people who I spoke to at cons ten years ago who have lifelong friends because of it because there’s something special they share outside of anime. So yeah, just the acceptingness of the community is wonderful.

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