League of Legends pro player, Vincent ‘Biofrost’ Wang, came out as gay in a public statement on May 7, sparking debate around homophobic abuse in the competitive LoL sphere, and whether or not there truly is a rainbow at the end of an all-consuming storm.
Two words that people have no doubt turned over and over in their minds for years on end. For some, finally admitting their identity to the world can be a cathartic release of pent-up emotion; for others, the end of interpersonal relationships and the start of deep anguish.
It’s no secret that some within the gaming world are quick to grasp at anything that can be weaponized. Once upon a time Barento ‘Razleplasm’ Mohammed told me about the levels of racist abuse he had faced simply for casting games of League of Legends, and there are countless other stories from those in marginalized communities that echo his experience.
That’s why, when longtime LCS support player and Dignitas star, Biofrost, came out on 7 May, 2022, my heart filled with joy. As someone who has always been a fan of the Canadian powerhouse, it seemed like some sort of barrier had finally been broken down, and that the phoenix I knew was there had risen from the ashes, unafraid of the inevitable hate the announcement would attract.
In the wake of Biofrost coming out, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about what this means for the esports world, and whether or not his strength can be a catalyst for greater change?
— Vincent (@Biofrostlol) May 7, 2022
My first encounter with Biofrost was back in the glory days of TSM. Attracted to his playstyle, I always felt an unexplainable synergy with how he operated both on Summoner’s Rift, and outside of the Rift.
As an avid TSM fan at the time, I used to regularly tune in to their YouTube updates, to catch up on Soren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg and co. living their best lives.
While players like Sergen ‘BrokenBlade’ Çelik stole the show, I always felt like there was a barrier with Biofrost; something subliminal, yet impenetrable – a front, but not one for show. Given that he confesses he has always been “hyper-conscious of how [he] should act and try not to sound gay,” a part of that facade was likely to hide the questions and emotions that swirled beneath.
As the curtain finally lifts, we’ll likely see the real Biofrost we’ve always wanted to see with no strings attached. While this is great for fans, it also allows him to thrive both inside and out of League, which can only enhance his already pretty insane talents. The shadows have retreated, and I can’t wait to see what that means for Biofrost’s future.
No matter his performance coming into Summer, though, this moment is one that will be celebrated by fans for years to come.
Say their names
All of this, however, hinges on how orgs react to this announcement. In his tweet, Biofrost writes “on almost every team I’ve been on, I’ve heard homophobic comments from either my teammates or the staff and felt uncomfortable, and even borderline afraid of losing my job if I told the truth.”
While I don’t need to tell you that’s unacceptable, it calls into question why these remarks are being ignored in the first place. Orgs are quick to fly the Pride flag during Pride Month, and have swathes of legal schpiel talking about equality and diversity – but how often is it put into practice?
Biofrost’s comments provide a glimpse into the side of the esports world that is oftentimes hidden behind rainbows and quirky content. It begs the question: how do we fix this? How do players call out organizations without risking career suicide?
I agree with him, I also “don’t see a quick fix,” but we’re finally talking about it, and that’s, at least, a plus.
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
The flip side of that, though, is that Biofrost has finally come out. For all of the bad that goes on behind closed doors, there’s a ray of hope – a rainbow at the end of the hurricane.
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Esports is in a spot where people are talking about world-changing issues. In the wake of Sinatraa’s return to competitive Valorant, we saw another hard conversation that needed to be had, finally being had. While not everyone is ready for the conversations, they’re happening, at least.
We’re finally talking about the specters that plague esports – not just paying them lipservice.
After years of alpha male dominance, and toxic responses to anything to the contrary, we could see a wave of empowered individuals take the difficult but vital step to make their own voices heard, as Biofrost did. Is it all because of Biofrost? No, of course not, but his coming out is yet another catalyst that can speed up the transformation our virtual world is already undergoing.
Will this be the watershed moment, to make a serious impact across esports? Maybe, or maybe not – that will be for time to show. But what I do know is that one person’s journey can have a domino effect. Biofrost has paved the way for fellow queer players to express themselves, just as others have done before him.
With LCS Summer Split just around the corner, though, I can’t wait to see how Biofrost performs now that he’s finally unleashed on the world. In fact, you could say the thought leaves me feeling quite ‘gay.’