The world changed a lot during the pandemic. One of the things it impacted the most was how we interact with the world around us.

Many of us became practically homebound, often times working from our residence, socializing over the internet and going out as little as possible. It was during this time the Charlotte Gaymers Network (CGN) was born.

CGN was originally conceived to fill the lack of in-person connectivity created by the pandemic for individuals in the LGBTQ gaming community. In the two-and-a-half years since, it has since grown by leaps and bounds.

According to Executive Director Jonathan Barrio, it’s now recognized as the largest LGBTQ gaming group in the country.

With an estimated membership of around 2,000, the nonprofit organization sums up their original statement of purpose on their website as follows: 

“The Charlotte Gaymers Network (CGN) was founded by friends Jonathan Barrio and Zach Smith, who identified a need in the LGBTQ+ community to stay connected to one another in the midst of a world altering pandemic. 

“Founded on July 6, 2020, CGN strives to create an inclusive environment of folks from all walks of life who are united in our passion and love for all things gaming. Group members enjoy board games, tabletop games, video games, and the social events that bring us together. 

“Our events take place in Charlotte, North Carolina and its surrounding areas. Our members are diverse, enthusiastic to meet new friends, and most importantly – welcoming. We hope to see you at an event soon!”

These days CGN’s purpose has grown far beyond their initial intent. Because of the notoriety they captured as the largest LGBTQ gaming group in the country, they’ve been invited to take part in the upcoming Creating Change Conference, and they’re asking members and friends to help raise $5,000 through GoFundMe.com. The funds will cover a portion of the expenses for travel, lodging and some of the other necessities that are required for such a trip.

Organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Creating Change Conference is the nation’s foremost political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ movement, created to train and mobilize thousands of activists across the nation to continue the effort for LGBTQ equality and stop violence and discrimination.

“We will be sending six CGN staffers to San Francisco to take part in the Creating Change conference to create a gaming arcade,” Barrio explains excitedly.

The event will take place at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco February 17 to 21, 2023.

The arcade will include 10 game stations that boast multiples of Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. In addition there will be 25 table games, among them Scrabble, Risk and Battleship.

“On Saturday night we’ll be presenting a Jeopardy event,” Barrio continues. “And we’ll be bringing in Jeopardy winner Amy Schneider to host.”

For the uninitiated, Jeopardy is an American TV game show that’s been on the air for nearly 50 years. Contestants are given clues and hints about the topic at hand in order to construct the answer, which is then posed by the contestant in the form of a question.

Schneider is well known for her winning streak with 40 consecutive games during a two-month period on the program between November 2021 and January 2022. She is the most successful woman and most successful transgender contestant ever to compete on the program winning an estimated $1.6 million. 

For the event, Barrio and fellow CGN member and head of Event Production Noelle Reed will be driving the group’s highly decorated and immediately recognizable 2020 GMC Savannah van from Charlotte to San Francisco, while the other members will fly.

“That’s 5,500 miles there and back,” says Barrio. “We’ll be gone a total of eleven days.”

In addition to the regular events CGN hosts, they’ve made financial donations to other nonprofits, as well. Earlier this year they were recognized by the local publication Queen City Nerve with City Life Reader’s Pick awards for Best Non Profit, Best Local Activist Group, Best Business Instagram and Best Facebook Page.

For more details on how to donate to their efforts to raise funding for the work with the Creating Change conference, visit their Facebook page; or their website, at www.charlottegaymersnetwork.com.

David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...

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