Monday, July 12

Is it so gay ?

When confronted with the inevitable 'that's so gay' in the gaming world (and RL) I find it best to ask a simple question:

Is it in a same sex relationship or is it just frivolously happy?

If the response is 'nah it's just crap' (which is always what is meant) then the next question is 'so then you think gay people are crap?', to be truthful not once have I heard somebody reply wth a positive to that one and will likely vehemently deny any heterosexism.

So if the vast majority deny any hateful intent then what's the problem? Language is important, the more a word is used in a particular context the more it means that, in this particular respect it provides ammunition and a feeling of support to those who are actually homophobic, in a world where people are violently murdered everyday just because of their sexuality should we really be encouraging prejudice by acceptance of what has become a relatively harmless turn of phrase? Obviously my answer to that one is no, we shouldn't accept it and we should remind people what they are actually saying and contributing to.

In the game world we have this rather large phenomena of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, Bi, Transgender) guilds, look in any MMO deep enough and they will be there. These guilds aren't created with online dating or cyber sex in mind, they are forced in to existence so people can relax and not put up with bigotted remarks. It's sad that any particularly group feels the need to exclude itself from the wider community and it's even sadder that it's done for those reasons. It's obvious then that to a significant part of the LGBT community that using gay as a way of saying crap has more meaning than the casual user of the term thinks, so what about game companies?

From WoW's ToS
"(i) Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Blizzard, is deemed to be offensive, including without limitation content or language that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, hateful, sexually explicit, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, nor may you use a misspelling or an alternative spelling to circumvent the content and language restrictions listed above;"

From NCSoft's end user agreement
"take any action or upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit any content as determined by NC Interactive at its sole discretion that is harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortuous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable; or contains any viruses, trojan horses, worms, time bombs, cancelbots or other computer programming routines that are intended to damage, detrimentally interfere
with, surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data or personal information"

From Eve's ToS
2.You may not use any abusive, defamatory, ethnically or racially offensive, harassing, harmful, hateful, obscene, offensive, sexually explicit, threatening or vulgar language. (Alternate spelling or partial masking of such words will be reprimanded in the same manner as the actual use of such words.)

3. You may not organize nor be a member of any corporation or group within EVE Online that is based on or advocates any anti-ethnic, anti-gay, anti-religious, racist, sexist or other hate-mongering philosophies

From those three examples alone it's obvious that homophobic behaviour is against the EULA/ToS, so why is the use of the word gay as a meaning for something crap still acceptable and used in those games? I answered that earlier myself, so many don't mean it as that and they fail to realise that by using it they support real anti gay behaviour.

Blizzard's ToS is most telling of what's part of the problem - "Transmit or post any content or language which, in the sole and absolute discretion of Blizzard, is deemed to be offensive" Blizzard and any other company can happily take the view that the usage of the word gay in this context isn't implicit in its homophobia, they are right if they choose to bury their head in the sand just as the perpetrators who don't think about what they are fuelling do.

IMHO it's about time game companies actually lived up to their user agreements and terms of service and treated homophobia in exactly the same way they treat racism and sexism in game, it is within their power, the problem is that without a significant move from the game communities they won't act, while the community says 'it's ok I'm not really homophobic, it's just a phrase' then they aren't going to spend on GM/Community powers to curb it. It's got to be a two way street.

Personnaly I look at discrimination on any grounds as a failure to value the freedom and equality of others based on either fear or irrational hatred. If your discriminating against somebody for any other reason than because they are a bad person then your doing it wrong.


  1. Personnaly I look at discrimination on any grounds as a failure to value the freedom and equality of others based on either fear or irrational hatred. If your discriminating against somebody for any other reason than because they are a bad person then your doing it wrong.

    I very much agree with that. Discrimination is always done out of ignorance and stupidity. But that doesn't make it any less hurtful when you are being discriminated.

    The misuse of the word 'gay' must be even worse. Because it is used without any thought. Maybe gaming companies can do a little bit more, like adding it to the profanity filter, but that doesn't stop much. It has already turned into common slang. I think it will require an active large scale campaign to get people more aware of what they are really saying.

    But who should do that? And where? The gaming companies won't. Why spend money on imposing morality on its customers? That is bad for business. The community itself? Probably. But how will they do that? This needs some big organized effort posting on forums, talking in game, etc. And that still only reaches less than 1% of the entire population. It will be a start, but still a huge uphill battle.

    It hurts to be discriminated that way. Or any way. Maybe we should step up or something. But for myself I am turning away and act as if the big bad world is not out there.

    Sorry I sound a bit fatalistic on this. I am living with a decease that makes me a pariah in nearly every society. I keep it hidden from work, friends, even close family. Most of the time I just live my life. But every so often I get reminded how screwed I am. The more I think or act on it the more painful it gets. So I just hide it inside. Except I am blabbing here now, which I shouldn't have :)

  2. There is an active campaign at the moment, it's a bit naff to be honest but it's heart is in the right place.

    I posted the same thing over at

    Incredibly humbling that you should talk about your disease in a public space, espicially as you keep it so tightly to yourself. Unless it's that disease that makes you ninja phat loot you won't be seeing any discrimination from this geek :)

    I do think that any voice, no matter how small that gets out there will have an impact in one way or another even if it is just to say 'oh, never thought of that'.

  3. I think that in the grand scheme of things, you'd have to look at this as from history as a whole. For one, "gay"

    didn't always mean "same sex relationship" until a group of homosexuals took it and made it their own. In the same

    way now, people who aren't gay have taken the term and made it their own. In that vein of logic, the gay person

    has no ground to stand in saying that a person can't use gay in the way of "that's so gay." I don't know that

    you'll see it the same way, but I believe that is the truth of the matter.

    I don't disagree that every person deserves respect as a human being, and I strive to give every person that same

    respect...even the ones that are unlovable...even that .... that cuts me off for no apparent reason and drives like he's trying to kill someone. But that brings up an interesting dilemma. Am I showing more respect for the maniac driver by letting him go, so long as he doesn't kill me, or by phoning him in to the cops so that he doesn't hurt any one? Is it more loving to let him go knowing that he didn't kill me, or attempt to stop him and warn him of his behavior before he kills himself or someone else?

    It is out of respect and concern for them as human beings that I say to gay people that gay isn't the way to be. It is not my place to force specific rules on a person, so if they decide to ignore me or discount me or write me off as deluded, I have to afford them the liberty to do that. That doesn't mean I need to change my thinking or should be make to change my thinking and beliefs. If I am, then the tables have turned and I'm the one being discriminated against by the very ones who are claiming the discrimination.

    Do you see the mexican standoff that's been created by the discrimination agenda? It's turned into a game of the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the oil, so now we're all shouting at each other as loud as possible in order to get the oil. It ends up not being a matter of mutual respect for all people, but rather forced respect for the one or few groups that cry foul the loudest and longest.

    Ok, sorry. If I wasn't conviced this is the truth, I wouldn't even say anything. I see so many wrongs on so many different levels by people on all sides of the arguments, that I'm convinced the only solution to be found must exist outside the realm of what we can see and know. That answer is personal liberty, love and respect toward all men at all times on a level even us humans can't comprehend, and justice against those things that offend these principles.

    You don't have to agree with me, that doesn't mean I'll like you any less. I don't believe that truth is relative, and I do believe that this'll all be sorted out in the end.

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  7. Sorry for the trash spam. First two times I tried, it said the request was too large, but looks like it did it anyway. *sheepish grin*

  8. Telling that the word gay had another meaning at some point is the same as claiming a swastika is a symbol from Indian religion. Both true, but everybody knows that is just an rubbish argument to hide behind. But I will no further argue this topic with you.

  9. That last sentence sounded a bit too accusing. Which is not what I meant. I consider you are a good friend. But you have some very strong believes I can't agree with. So I rather stay clear from arguing it with you. Maybe that is cheap of me. And I apologise to both of you for not speaking up either way.

    And Geek, thanks for your words. I posted it because I know you would never see me different because of it. Although we did meet in real life you are still more friends from my virtual world. It makes some things easier to say. Living with an (yet) uncurable infectious decease makes escaping into the virtual world that more compelling.

    And making the whole Blizzard RealID idea very horrible in my eyes. But that is a different argument.

  10. "Do you see the mexican standoff that's been created by the discrimination agenda? It's turned into a game of the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the oil, so now we're all shouting at each other as loud as possible in order to get the oil. It ends up not being a matter of mutual respect for all people, but rather forced respect for the one or few groups that cry foul the loudest and longest."

    I see that completely and it is a sad state of affairs for all concerned, it doesn't promote a respect for difference.

    Looking at the origin of the word it seems it was a word given by 'those in the know' to the young and frivolous of the 20's who played with art and gender, from then it began to reach a wider ear and the homosexuals embraced it as a word less clinical than homosexual and as a word with positive meaning (at this point homosexuality is still defined as a disease and is still a criminal act). Personally I think it's a crap word to use - whose happy 24 hours a day and being described as frivolous sounds insulting to me. As a description for people involved in same sex relationships I think it's lame. None of us expose our sexuality 24hrs a day, we define ourselves partly through it but so rarely that it just shouldn't matter as long as unwanted advances are easily deflected :)

    That didn't cross my mind about RealID, it is often easier to talk to strangers about things, disclosures in a safe anonymous environment with people you find a rapport with could become really problematic in the wrong hands outside that environment.

    Some thought provoking responses, thanks :)

  11. Sorry I'm late to this party.
    I still remember trying to raise some awareness about the whole misuse of the word gay in juvenile parlance at GameAmp. What struck me then was that people actually didn't care about the associations with homo sexuality. Even though homophobic slander was clearly the origin. They didn't mean it as a slur on gay people so gay people should not be offended about it... God that was frustrating. The best we accomplished at that time was some people spelling it ghey afterwards. Still not sure how that would help but they thought they were being very considerate.

    I Don't agree with Fractured's vision of the truth. Not about homosexuality and not in the sense that it's absolute, I'm of the opinion everything is relative and have the scientific community to back me up on that. But Fractured's got the moderate religious community to back him up so like he almost says himself I'm inclined to agree to disagree on the matter and leave it at that.

    I do think he was spot on with the squeaky wheel analogy. When I first read Geek's original topic I was reminded of the Borderhouse A LGBT in gaming blog. I read it because they have interesting view points. Sometimes they make me feel like they're bending backwards to find a way to be offended though. That happens a lot. Most anti-disrimination campaigns contain a couple of active/vocal people with a chip on their shoulder and a plate in front of their heads saying their plight is the biggest concern in the world...

    My own thoughts on the matter are is that rather than campaign against discrimination of gays, of transgenders, lepers, pedophiles, HIV positives, race, colour, religion, mean who wear sarongs when there's a heatwave, e.t.c. all of which seem silly to me, I think there should just be campaigning to make people remember to respect their fellow (wo)man, regardless of any of the above. That's a campaign whose frontline should be the family unit. And to bring things full circle. It shouldn't be Geek posting this post here or at who makes kids playing MMO's see the fallacy in saying 'gay' as a pejorative. It should be their parents who take an interest in their kid's activities.

  12. P.s. I think any of us who are authors here can ignore the "too large" error message. Still it's the interwebz and we're all veterans of the GameAmp forums so we know to Ctrl+A, CTRL+C before posting anything right?

  13. You'll have to enlighten me on the Ctrl+A, CTRL+C thing. Technically, it's what I did because I wrote it in notepad then pasted it in here, but I'm not sure that's what you're talking about?

    You know, I really don't like being divisive on any issue. I tend to shy away from confrontation, and actually feel physical discomfort over it (as I did today, and do now as I ponder whether or not I should actually hit that Post Comment button). However, greater than my fear of opposition, I felt it would be a violation of my conscience to not say something.

    I was reading a conversation kind of on the same topic today with a guy who was more than shunned by "Christians" he came across in his life. His father has disowned him, hasn't spoken to him in 10 years, and a street preacher called him "subhuman." Personally, I'm ashamed of those people and that they would consider themselves Christians. I'm ashamed and frustrated because if I say that I'm a Christian, that's the image that's going to be conjured up in some people's minds. They are just as guilty of sinning against God (probably more so) than one who is a homosexual, in that they have got destructive pride built up in themselves thinking they're better than someone else, when in reality, they are no better. I'm the same way - a sinner before God, condemned to hell. The only thing that sets me apart is faith in Christ to save me from my wrong and because of that, I don't have to fear death or hell. God has a place for me with Him.

    There, I said it. If there are consequences, I'm willing to accept them. You may ban me if you like. Know that I don't desire to debate the issue any more than you guys do but I've had this horrendous struggle inside about saying these things and couldn't in good conscience not make it known, at least once, exactly what I believe and where I stand. Know also that I say these things out of a concern and love for you guys. What you do with this information is your own business and won't change what I think about you.

    Ok, I'm done. I'm at your mercy. Think I'll go buy some stock in Tums before I come back again, lol. Perhaps I'll just stay away from topics like this in the future...

    Back on topic though, Lani, you hit the nail on the head IMO with your last paragraph there, "It should be their parents who take an interest in their kid's activities." and your comments about family and mutual respect for others. In church we call that agape love. The kind of love that puts other's interests first, before your own.

  14. Posting this here and knowing your a participant I wouldn't have expected anything less :-)

    I was going to say something in my last post which was off topic but now you've bought it nicely on topic.

    I spent 3 years working for a Christian organisation, these where amongst some of the most loving, understanding and life affirming people I have ever met. It was a church project that started by providing shelter, food and a safe non judgemental space for drug users to go. By the time I started working for them they provided housing, training for users, professional training to the police and government (amongst others), a methadone clinic, social, medical, legal and spiritual support. It's an amazing project and over it's 30 yr history saved a lot of lives.

    My initial impression of christianity was always about the love and the support and that's what I choose to look for when I think of christians, the good samaritan is the sunday school story that echoes most in my memory and that was why I enjoyed working for that christian project and that's still how I view Christians.

    I'll just quote myself here:)

    "If your discriminating against somebody for any other reason than because they are a bad person then your doing it wrong. "

  15. Lani your absolutely right about where the front line is and how it should be handled, so when we gonna start this 'respect' campaign ? :)

  16. Ctrl-A selects all text, Ctrl-C copies all that text to the clipboard. So that when the silly website fails on you the text is not lost. A
    simple Ctrl-V puts it all back again!

    I think we could have some really great conversations about life and beyond! And although we all think different about certain topics I am glad you didn't keep quiet, but spoke what was on your heart.

    I had that same physical anxiety since I commented on this topic yesterday. There is a whole lot more I could and actually wish to say. But I won't bore you all too much :)

    I have that same response sometimes from people when I tell them I am a Christian. There must be something wrong with me. I must either be a pedophile or some religious fanatic. For sure I am not normal. So once again I just keep my believes to myself.

    I am very glad I am Christian, but I am very sure it does not automatically mean I'll go to heaven, and a non Christian to hell. God is much wiser than to rely on human massaged ideas. But this is probably one of the many points where our ideas about our believes differ.

    In the same way, in my eyes homosexuality and christianity are not too opposites. The main principle I life by is to live and let live. Who am I to tell somebody to not love another man or woman? Maybe that is up to God to decide.

    I also believe that some of crazy overly righteous western religious fanatics thought they could play God. They are the ones that brought HIV into the world. It worked wonders until it went a bit wrong and it spread slightly further. Thanks! I have to live with their stupidity. But I have God, and great friends.

    So life is actually pretty good!

  17. Thanks Phe for enlightening me! I did actually realize what Lani was talking about (after the fact)...I guess I'm just a little slow like that, heh.

  18. Well, in the spirit of the article, we'll try not to hold that against you ;-)
    Seriously I prbably took the most combobulated way of putting that...