DES MOINES, Iowa — Whether its Dungeons and Dragons, Villainous or Guess Who, Prism Tabletop Club is ready to "play with pride."
Prism Tabletop Club is a monthly event hosted by The Rook Room, dedicated to helping members of the LGBTQ+ community connect over a shared love of games.
"We just want everyone to approach the table as themselves, because play can be really vulnerable," said Annelise Tarnowski, co-owner of The Rook Room. "It's teaching and learning and trying, maybe failing, losing, winning, all that stuff... so coming as yourself, how you are 100%, is playing with pride."
The Rook Room is an LGBTQ-owned business that hosts events and pop-up board game bars in the Des Moines area. Their goal is to eventually open a dedicated board game bar and café.
In the meantime, The Rook Room hasn't let a lack of space hold them back. They frequently partner with other local businesses, such as The Slow Down Coffee Co.
"They're always open, especially to people from marginalized communities, but also just trying new things," Tarnowski said. "Being a pop-up business, we always need to work with people who are ready to try new things."
When Tarnowski and her co-owner, Tony Tandeski, were looking for a home for their queer pop-up, The Slow Down was an obvious choice.
"The Slow Down's kind of become a spot where we feel comfortable," said Jaclyn Duke, who participated in Wednesday's Prism meet-up.
Over time, Prism has created a steady group of attendees, ready to get their game on with fellow community members.
"It's really cool to see the familiar faces that come back, the new faces, and just the connection between the community that we've established here," said Coral Thede, a barista at Slow Down.
Creating a space for people to be authentic in their identities is a major part of what both Slow Down and The Rook Room are all about.
"It might be something as simple as a board game," Thede said. "But we've seen people come here week after week, month after month, and grow their confidence, grow their skill set. They might have been someone who came here alone, but they left with friends."
Prism Tabletop Club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at The Slow Down Coffee Co.
For a list of The Rook Room's other upcoming events, click here.