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Twitch streamer Blizzbear on community, hate-raids, and his biggest inspirations

Accurately described by Lifewire as both a “comfort streamer” and a “himbo”, Blizz — Blizzb3ar on socials — is the bi gamer bf you didn’t know you needed. After a steady rise throughout the pandemic, Blizz now finds himself with thousands of fans across different platforms and a strong core community that have all grown together over the past couple years.

We caught up with Blizz to talk about his journey, his supporters, and the streamers who inspired him to reach the heights he has today.

 

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How did you get your start in streaming and how did that blow up to where it is today?

I started on Tumblr, but when Tumblr did the big move over, I went to Twitter. I started getting my Twitter following when I was a part of “#BiMenExist”. It got me a lot of like followers back in February 2020, to the point where I was like, “Oh, I have like 5k on Twitter… I could start Twitch streaming!”

I was looking for a community, looking for people who identified similarly to me or looked like me in the gaming space. I wanted to cultivate that type of community, and I did in the long run.

I was a product of the pandemic. I’ve only been content creating for two years now (my two year anniversary is on the 10th of June). I wanted to find other people because in the space that I was living IRL there wasn’t a lot of Black individuals, and not a lot of Black queer individuals especially. There weren’t a lot of people who could relate to the experiences I was going through. So I wanted to create that.

I wanted to find people like me because it was important for me to learn more about myself and also have people to affirm the experiences I was going through. Streaming started becoming more of a priority for me, and also started teaching me to put myself first, to say “no”, and to set boundaries.

I had ended up working for the government, but there was a point in my life where I realized I wasn’t happy anymore. I felt like I was in a space that didn’t really respect me, and I couldn’t be unapologetically myself, so I quit on February 2nd, 2021. Literally three days later I was offered the opportunity of being a twitch partner. I was verified, the purple check-mark and everything. It made it seem like it was meant to be and that I made the correct choice.

It seems like it’s been working out for you; you were on a billboard in Times Square?

I was on two billboards in New York and two in LA. My mom was like, “Oh my god, I’m so proud of you,” and I was like, “Oh, you’ve never said that before. Now I’m crying. What is going on?”

 

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How do you feel your identity has impacted how you interact with gaming and gamer culture in general?

It makes me want to see more of my identity in gaming. I’ve noticed in the games that most gain traction that there’s not much queerness. They aren’t really targeted towards the queer community, which sucks because I want to see myself in the game.

I don’t know if I’ve successfully seen myself in a game yet. I have played queer games, or games with queer tones, and it’s made me actually be interested in playing the game. That’s versus, I don’t know, say Halo; I love Halo, but there’s not any queerness in Halo. It doesn’t make me want to play it as much.

If you see yourself in a video game or if there’s representation in something, you’re more likely to feel a part of that thing. That goes with video games, that goes with streamers that you see on a platform, and that goes with Twitter as well.

That was some of the reason that I wanted to join Twitch; I didn’t see a lot of streamers that look like me or identified similarly to me. I didn’t know at the time that the only reason I didn’t see that was because Twitch wasn’t necessarily highlighting these creators. They wanted to highlight the cis straight white males playing Halo or C.O.D. [Call of Duty] or something. I don’t know what straight people play, to be honest.

 

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Who were some fellow streamers who really made you feel a sense of community?

DataDaveTV is one of the creators that I first started watching, and it was really cool seeing a Black queer individual just running in the space. It was so comforting and made me want to actually try, like, “Hey, I think I could do this too.” In April, I finally got to meet him in person.

There’s a lot of creators that helped me be confidently myself and create a community of learning and understanding, like MiladyConfetti and CriticalBard. I just had a conversation last night with CrubTV and Detune on stream, talking about what it’s like to be a content creator and our fears and hopes moving forward. People who are being real with each other make me really happy. People who care a lot about their communities make me really happy as well.

What would you say to any queer people who think that they can’t find community in this space?

There is a community out there! It sucks that we have to hunt for it in order to find it, compared to straight individuals who can walk into a room and know that a space is for them automatically. There’s a lot of times where we have to test out a space and observe to see if a space is for us, but I promise you there is a space out there.

Hell, if you want to come into my space, it’s for you! If you’re queer, it is for you. It’s difficult because the world is not set up for us, but we are constantly making space for us.

 

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You’ve talked before about how queer and marginalized creators will get hate-raided disproportionately on Twitch. Can you tell us a bit about what hate-raids are and how you combat them?

I was actually hate-raided yesterday, so yeah, I can talk about it. I’ve been hate-raided now six times in my life. The one that happened yesterday, someone paid money – which is wild to me – to make up about 5000 bot accounts to raid my channel with inappropriate names, names that include or allude to racial or homophobic slurs or things like that.

It’ll be in large numbers that also follow-bot you, which means that they’ll get a bunch of bot accounts to mess up your alerts by following your account all at once. I’ve had 25,000 bots follow my account at the same time. I usually have an alert that’s like, “thank you so much for the follow!” Imagine that happening 25,000 times. You have to turn it off, make sure you delete all of them…. It’s a very wild time.

I was actually actively targeted by a white supremacist on a different site; they were going through Twitch accounts and looking at people who were live under the queer tag just to send their community over to hate on them and say slurs at them. People are so bored!

I have a lot of resources set up to help me counteract the hate-raids; my mods have been trained to counteract the hate raids, and anytime something happens, they’ll literally just message in our Discord and say, “Hey, hate-raid time, let’s go,” and we’ll deal with it in maybe under a minute. That’s really nice.

I’m just trying to be unapologetically myself at the end of the day. I’m just trying to provide content for people. There’s nothing I’m doing that is harming anyone. whatsoever. at all. All I’m doing is providing a space for queer individuals, but that’s such a threat?

It’s kind of scary, because at this point, like, people can see you on the internet and just want to harm you. That also comes up with swatting. A couple of my friends have been swatted online, especially from hate-raids. They’ve been sent very inappropriate things to their address, because someone was trying to leak their address. They apparently hated them so much because of their queerness or because of their skin color that they wanted to harm them in some way. That’s just so ridiculous to me. Like, how do y’all look at yourselves in the mirror? How do you sleep at night? Because that’s sh*tty behavior.

 

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What’s the most fulfilling aspect of your streaming career at this point?

I think two months ago is when I realized I was a successful streamer, because I started looking at success in a very different way. You can look at success based on the numbers you get, or the followers that you have, or the revenue that you’re getting… At this point I’m self-sustainable, which is really awesome, but how I measure my success is the impact I have on people.

As long as at the end of the day I have impacted one person with the words that I have said, or with the education that we’ve learned together in chat, or if I’ve just made someone’s day better, even one comment like that, I’m a successful streamer. That’s what I’ve wanted.

Something that’s been really good about this whole journey for me is knowing that I’ve been a part of these people’s lives for over a year now, and it’s so cool to just kind of see how they were in the beginning of my streaming career and how they are now and the confidence that they have. They’re so good at setting boundaries now. I like to think I contributed towards that.

 

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And you and your community have grown together.

They actively want to tie-in new people coming in too, which is really cool. I don’t have to do the majority of the work, because they’re already like, “Oh my god, new people, hi! Come in, welcome in, sit down. You’re cute, let’s vibe.”

I also truly believe you get the energy in return that you send out in the first place, and the energy I’ve been sending out is an energy of transparency, an energy of learning, and an energy of kindness and respecting each other. I’ve gotten that back within my community, which is so cool.

I never want my community to think I’m just a streamer — like, I’m a human. At the end of the day, I have feelings, and I am not afraid to express and communicate how I am feeling. It’s just kind of nice; the community itself is nice. I feel like I’ve literally struck gold with the individuals that I have.