Just came across this. I wasn’t out even to myself in 2003, so it didn’t strike me at the time how earth-shatteringly significant it was at the time.
Certainly brought a tear to my eye…
Just came across this. I wasn’t out even to myself in 2003, so it didn’t strike me at the time how earth-shatteringly significant it was at the time.
Certainly brought a tear to my eye…
The title is strong, but is no exaggeration. Whether it’s a matter of intentional homophobia on the part of specific persons, or institutionalized homophobia on the part of government structures and organizations, the UK Government is indeed homophobic. If you’ve read my previous article for No More Lost, you’ll note that I don’t use the term lightly: People are dying as a result of this Governments culpable failure to keep its word. This Lib Dem/Conservative coalition government promised so much, but has entirely failed to deliver. We had hoped that the conservatives had changed – they have not. We had hoped that the Liberal Democrats would bring progress and enthusiasm for change – they have not. They brought us promises, and then failed to even as much as seriously attempt to realize them.
With that said, it is clearly not a lack of action that makes a government homophobic, and nor is it the lack of material results from its promises. The mark of a homophobic government is that it threatens the rights and lives of LGB people, is complicit through inaction when it’s legislation is clearly and obviously bent in such a way as to hurt LGB people, or when it actually acts to that effect complicitly. This is the test of a homophobic government, and this is the evidence:
Promise 1: We will look at the possibility of enacting marriage equality.
Well, frankly, as promises go this one is all a bit empty really. It’s not a promise of action, and it’s not a promise of any kind of solid view. It says “We’ll think about it”… so where’s the thought? Where’s the indication of progress being made on this issue by the Government. The Government has done nothing of note on this issue. That, of course, is not the mark of homophobia. The mark of homophobia comes in that the Government is in the mean time trying to promote marriage as being the all important cornerstone of family and society. In so doing, it sets things up so that married people can access perks and benefits. Of course, if LGB people cannot get married, they cannot access them. The message, taken to its logical conclusion, is effectively “Heterosexual marriage should be encouraged and rewarded… but you LGBT people are clearly not as valuable to society and are thus undeserving of the potential for equal reward.”
Promise 2: “This Government will defend the most vulnerable”. “It will defend LGBT rights”.
There is one notable success for the Government here. Until this government, gay men were banned from donating blood, which has been a long standing bone of contention. Under this Government, that’s changed: Gay men are now allowed to donate blood… as long as they haven’t had sex in the last 10 years! Frankly, that’s really no better!
However, as a group, it is well documented that LGBT people are statistically far more likely to be “vulnerable” than the population as a whole – that much is kind of obvious really… and yet government cuts are hitting services important to many LGBT people, and they’re hitting those services hard!
Add to that the fact that an act introduced by the last Government aimed at simplifying a wide variety of laws relating to equality, including LGBT equality, has come under attack from this Government. The Equalities act is being presented to the public as possible red tape to be cut, and the Government are seeking comments on it on that basis. After overwhelming support for the act on the Government’s “Red Tape Challenge” website, the Government opted to re-present the question, leading many to believe that the Government will not be happy until it recieves the answers it wants as justification for weakening or removing these protections.
Promise 3: Those persecuted because of their sexual orientation will be afforded asylum in the UK.
in July 2010, shortly after the Government came into power, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the refusal to grant asylum to those who were persecuted because of their sexuality with the reasoning that “they can just go back and hide it to avoid persecution”, was a violation of human rights law. The Government welcomed this – publicly at least.
The Home Office told the UK Border Agency was that the new rules should be applied “with immediate effect” and that relevant cases should be “flagged and recorded”… but more than 7 months later, such cases are still not being counted and so there is no way of telling how the new rules are being applied…
… well, no accurate way, but there’s certainly a way to gauge it to some extent. We have had various highly publicised cases of people who have been refused asylum on grounds of persecution because of their sexuality:
There’s Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan Lesbian who was initially refused entry following a ruling that she was not really a lesbian, on ground that since being in the UK she had “taken no interest in forms of media by magazines, books or other information relating to her sexual orientation.” -ignoring of course, the less-than-subsistence benefits she was surviving on while making her claim- and citing no evidence of her living a lesbian “lifestyle”. This, of course, irrespective of the fact that the publicity surrounding her case alone would surely have put her at risk if refused asylum.
More recently, we have the case of Betty Tibakawa, a Ugandan whom despite being branded with a hot iron twice on her inner thighs for being lesbian, and outed in the Ugandan magazine ‘Red Pepper’, has been refused asylum on grounds that she, again, is not genuinely gay, and faces no persecution in Uganda.
We have the case of Edson “Eddy” Cosmas, a gay man from Tanzania who was denied asylum at the first hurdle. The letter rejecting his claim, “attempts to paint the existence of bars where gay men are known to be found and other gay meeting places and gay organisations as indicating that it is possible to be gay, albeit ‘discretely’. Also, a lack of prosecutions is mentioned, presumably to suggest a lack of formal state repression and that it is ‘safe’ to return a gay man.”
LGBT Asylum News reports: “According to In interview, minor discrepancies in Eddy’s statements are taken as totally undermining his credibility. Many relate to his sexual history.”
These are just a selection of the higher profile requests for asylum – these are just some of those that have made headlines. With headlines like these, how common do you suppose this kind of thing is, especially among those who have not yet spent any time in the UK, or who don’t have the support of a network of friends and family here: those who don’t really have a voice to speak out about it?
Ironically, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, not very long ago claimed success in his pledge that “those facing persecution would no longer be deported” … yet people applying for asylum on grounds of persecution because of their sexual orientation or trans identity are being put through the “detained fast track process”, which is almost purpose made for those who’s claims are uncomplicated and have very no real basis for the granting of asylum – in spite of the fact that LGBT claims are often notoriously complex.
This is a Government that really reached out for the “pink vote”, no doubt in part because the Conservatives wished tho shed the public perception of them as ‘the Nasty Party’. To the credit of the Lib Dems, at least on a party level they are the first to commit to Marriage Equality – though it should be noted the Nick Clegg is a Lib Dem too!
What will it take for this government to change course, stick to its word, and support LGBT people as it promised rather than hurt LGBT people? Perhaps it needs embarrasing into action? We can but try…
The Home Office, which in particular is the Government department responsible for the UK Border Agency which decides upon asylum claims. The Home Office won an award from major UK LGB campaigning organization Stonewall, topping it’s list of gay friendly employers. Does the Home office sound Gay friendly to you? It may generally treat it’s employees well, but it’s certainly not doing a lot for those LGBT people it’s supposed to be helping, and shows no inclination to enforce its own orders to do so either. Shouldn’t a Gay friendly employer not only be friendly to those LGBT people in its employment, but also be an LGBT friendly organization that happens to employ people?
Perhaps Stonewall ought to consider rescinding the award, in light of the Home Office’s treatment of LGBT asylum seekers, many of whom may well have been sent to their deaths, in the full and complicit knowledge of the UK Home Office. Perhaps they should be encouraged to rescind it: It’s certainly a start. Sign the petition.
Consider, for a moment, the following story:
“But how did you know?”: Oh that age old question asked just one more time, and never for the last.
They sighed. A sigh so softly expressed so many times. A sigh so soft and understated that only a person accustomed to such moments would understand it. Barely visible to the casual observer, those in the know would recognise their hearts sinking as they prepared to answer the inevitable and recurring question. At least they weren’t being asked about the configuration of their genitals or their sexual preferences though. They’d been spared that indignity on this occasion. It was at least a tolerable question, and once more they found their selves giving out the very personal details of their personal childhoods.
“I always got on better with boys,” he said, “and then when puberty hit it was a nightmare. I just knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what”.
“Oh, it was a bit like that for me to,” she interjected, “except I got on better with the girls. I used to like playing with dolls but my parents would take them from me when they caught me. My mum caught me using her makeup once. I guess I was just born this way.”
Why? Why, oh why, oh why must we go through this standard narrative again, and again and again? Yes, I’m as guilty as anyone of this, but surely this is the sort of thing we should be telling our nearest and dearest -should there be a cause or desire for them to know- and not random strangers or acquaintances? If you actually like answering these questions and the ‘standard narrative’ applies to you, then sure, why not… but for the rest of us: Why?
Really speaking, this pretty much applies to LGB people as much as it does to trans people. We collectively feel the need to justify our existence by offering narratives, terminology and ideas that can be readily digested by the rest of society. We explain our histories and our existences according to the frameworks provided for us, which are inevitably designed to fit in with the pre-ordained rules of a hetero-normative society. We often seem to instinctively try to avoid standing out, and instead try to shape ourselves to fit the mold at the expense of our own unique individualities. Not even cissexual people their selves are immune to this effect, from the schoolyard bullies, to the neighborhood yobs and interest groups hitting out at and questioning anything that poses the smallest challenge to the normative status quo, marking it as somehow different and inferior by its mere existence. For LGBT people though, there’s a difference – we tend to accept it, consciously or not, as being part and parcel of being LGBT, and it runs right the way through society.
While anti-abortionists claim that a woman’s right to do as she likes with her body is superseded by the rights of the unborn child in a similarly vitriolic battle over what choice women should have over their bodies, the argument against LGBT people is predicated differently. It is based on the idea that we, in ourselves, are disgusting and morally wrong simply for our very existences… and I ask – why? Why must we be special cases having to explain our origins? Why should we be subject to attempts to cure us? Why should we be considered as worth anything less than anybody else because of who we are in spite of the fact that we do nothing wrong, and nothing to harm anybody else? Ironically, there is even a section of the feminist community that believes in a person’s choice over their own body, and yet would deny trans people that choice – one feminist famously wanted to “mandate trans people out of existence”. The anti-choice argument at least contains some kernel of reason (whether you agree with it or not), whereas the argument against LGBT equality does not. Such a lack of reason was seen recently in the UK, where a popular soap opera showed two men cuddling in bed and provoked outrage from some quarters, while hetero-centric casual sex, violence, threats and even rape have been deemed unworthy of complaint by the same people.
This argument that we are some kind of scourge on society, and that we’re somehow exotic or explicit material that should be kept out of the eyes of children spurs us on to justify ourselves with a whole host of purported medical, evolutionary, sociological, genetic, or psychological reasons. In doing so, we are the ones that create our own oppression. Instead of standing up to such questions, and instead of requesting the civil courtesy of the respect afforded to everyone else, we give in. In giving in and answering their questions with narratives that fit their views, we perpetuate a cycle where they feel they have the right to ask. They feel they have a right to know. A right to pry. A right that wouldn’t exist anywhere else, and thus lends itself to a sense of the normal vs the abnormal, which of course transforms itself into issues of right or wrong, above and below, inferiority and superiority. We hand them power. We give them privilege over us, and all by trying to fit into their world, rather than staking our place and our claim on our already being a part of their world, and one that’s worthy of equality and respect. I’m not going to seriously use terms like kyriarchy or patriarchy to describe top down systems of oppression. Power is seen to work like that, but only because that is the way we have organised it. If every fighter put down their weapon, we’d see an end to war – it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s true. Similarly, can you imagine a situation where every LGBT person responded with “That’s a personal question”, or “My body, my choice. I’m not hurting anybody else, so what’s the problem?” Admittedly, for some trans people it’s a choice between surgery or death – but that’s still a real choice, if an obvious decision to make (clue – death isn’t the obvious and logical solution to such a problem.)
Then, of course, there’s the other problem with the standard narratives for trans people especially – they hurt other trans people. In some ways, the formation of the narrative has been clinician led… but it’s our internalisation of the narrative that’s perpetuated it. As more and more people repeat their stories, it becomes the accepted basis on which medical services are allowed. Nobody knows what causes transsexualism any more than what results in the existence of neutrois or other gender variant people that don’t fit the narrative… but it is the narrative that grants access to medical treatment. If you don’t fit it, you don’t get it. If you’re not transsexual, then you must surely have some sort of body dysmorphia that needs talking therapy or psychiatric drugs – it’s not right, and it’s not fair. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s likewise going to be even longer coming for as long as the ‘One True Narrative’ prevails. Is it right to leave other people out in the cold like this?
For bisexual people – if same sex attraction is not a choice, and “homosexuality is OK as long as you don’t act on it” is not a reasonable view, where exactly does that leave bisexual people? While “Being gay is not a choice” is great for defending gay and lesbian people, it leaves bisexual people open to the accusation that they really do have a choice, and should choose only to sleep with members of the opposite sex.
We need to stop clinging to the standard narrative – and many of us are unknowingly guilty of that, as we tend as a species to frame things in the language we are surrounded with. We need to stop giving away our power and subverting ourselves. We need to stop internalizing the narratives, and instead to proudly state the truth of our own individual existences. To live that truth. To love that truth, and to be that truth. We need to stop policing others for questioning the standard narrative and expressing opinions which stand against it. We need to stop crying “transphobia”, “homophobia”, “hetero-centricism” and “cissexism” at the slightest opportunity, stop tarring and we need to start living by example. Sure – there is transphobia, homophobia, hetero-centricism and cissexism in the world and it’s wrong, but overuse of the terms devalues them, and just makes us look irrationally angry and combative… all the while, of course, focussing our attention on why certain people think we are wrong rather than on why we are just as worthy and awesome as anybody else. It’s perhaps telling that I myself am wondering if I’m going to lose friends and contacts over this article – I don’t profess it to be gospel truth, but I do feel it raises a few interesting points and questions.
I’m going to tell you that truth now. It’s actually a very simple one, as most truths are – we are people of diverse backgrounds and experiences just as all human beings are, but in one thing you are just the same as anybody else…
… You are beautiful, and your existence is no less valid or rightful than anybody elses. You have a right to be yourself. You don’t need a cure. You don’t need a reason. You don’t need to explain yourself to all and sundry. You don’t need to justify your basic existence. Why you are the way you are doesn’t matter. What matters, is that you are who you are, and you exist – and you are beautiful for it. At the end of the day, we’re all just people, and we should be people. Live.
If ever there were a term to be reclaimed, this is it: the gay agenda. When you blog on a LGBT website, you end up trawling through the websites of all the usual news sites, anti-gay campaigns and hate groups – NOM, right wing Christian news, republican/social conservative blogs and news, gay news sites, etc… …and so it goes on. One thing you simply cannot avoid is the term “gay agenda” used as a stick to beat us with. There’s never a definition to what this agenda is exactly, but the undertones are always sinister; and you know what? I’m sick of it. So, let’s say this now…
“Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
… no? Are you having trouble saying that? Is it just me that supports the gay agenda? OK, then let’s take a look at what it is we’re so often accused of supporting.
The term ‘Gay Agenda’ is a bit of an invention. It supposedly refers to an organised, concerted (or in the minds of those that accuse us of it, conceited) political and social effort to earn ourselves special rights and privileges, over and above those held by the rest of society. Frankly, we simply don’t have the level of power and privilege as a group and that in itself makes the concept more than a little surreal. It’s surreal because the concept is couched in the language of good and evil. The idea comes from the drawing of battle lines. It comes from a group of people so utterly convinced that homosexuality is abhorrent or sinful, unnatural or immoral that any effort towards anything that leads to acceptance of the fact that there are gay people in society and their mere existence should not be grounds for criticism, harassment, or worse, must therefor be an effort with sinister, corrupt, and morally repugnant intentions. Of course, understanding the origins of this ludicrous idea fails to address that ‘special treatment’ accusation… so let’s address that further – while we have neither the power nor the privilege for such a lofty goal, and even if such a goal were somewhere within our wildest dreams, isn’t it normal for interest groups, marginalised or otherwise, to seek an advantage in their own lives? It might not be morally sound, but it happens everywhere. Christians do it, politicians and political parties do it, advocates for various causes do it, corporations, capitalists, sole traders, small businesses and banks do it. It may not be right, but in our society – a society so often espoused as righteous in these traits by the self same people who complain of the gay agenda – it’s normal.
So, are you ready to say it yet? – “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”… No?
Well, perhaps it’s because the Gay Agenda is an invented term, used to promote a ludicrous idea of good and evil, which is in turn used to beat us over the heads with, and further an anti-gay agenda. Even so, we do have an agenda. An agenda that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual. trans, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, and questioning people; and you know, much of this applies to straight women too. It could, for simplicity and for a short and snappy name, be referred to as a gay agenda, even though it covers all of these people. Yes, people. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you too can say “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation”. Perhaps if it’s spelled out clearly, you can provide a simple answer or a link next time you see or hear someone accusing us of supporting our sinister little agenda for the destruction of community, society and all goodness in the world – so here’s that agenda, clearly on display for all to see.
1) We are human beings first and foremost just like everybody else, and as a body of people, we would generally like to be considered as normal people, just like everybody else. There are exceptions to the rule (those that like to stand out and be different), but that’s the case for any group of people in society, and no reason to treat us as being in some way different in the context of our day to day lives. We need to eat, sleep, pay our bills, be with our loved ones (especially in moments of need!) and generally live out our lives just as everybody else does.
2) We want to live in peace, seek happiness, and make something of our lives, just as anybody else does.
3) Many of us would like to have our long term, committed, stable relationships recognised in law. Of course, in that regard, Separate but equal is not equal, as demonstrated by the fact that anybody could desire to separate us from the rest of society in the first place… and so yes, many of us would like to get married. Some of us have children. Some of us will never have children – just like infertile or otherwise childless heterosexual couples – we don’t see anybody arguing against those marriages, so why us?
4) Some of us are not gay, but instead we speak for our children who so often are needlesly abused in school. Why? Why is this allowed to continue? Nobody wants homosexuality ‘promoted’ in school, but it’s not promotion to teach that we’re people just the same as anybody else, and should be accorded the same respect and fair and just treatment as anybody else. It’s rather sad that there are a bunch of hateful and bigoted adults teaching children to behave in these ways, resulting in a need for this education in basic human respect and decency. It’s simply called equality.
5) We’d like an end to the lies, mis-truths, deceptions, unsupported and ill founded assumptions, and hysterical propaganda distributed about us. We’d very much appreciate it if people stopped making us the target and the object of their hatred and allowed us to get on with our lives in peace.
6) While we’re on the subject of getting on with our lives in peace, it would be nice if we didn’t have to live in fear that we’ll be discriminated against or our sexual orientation regardless of the fact that it almost never has any serious (if any!) affect on anybody else, and is almost always irrelevant to the subject of that discrimination. It’d also be very nice if we could be sure that our politicians, community leaders, and rich & powerful view our execution -wherever it is- on grounds of our sexual orientation as an abhorrent idea, and not have to live with the sure knowledge that there are some that would support it. It would be nice if, when we get attacked, we could be sure that it’ll be taken seriously… that we could be sure that it won’t get brushed under the carpet… that we can be sure that we won’t be told it’s our own fault simply for the fact of our existence.
7) All this tends to add up to a degree of disempowerement, and we’d like our power back please. We’d like the same power over our own lives and destinies that everybody else has. No more, and no less.
8) Whether we’re gay, trans, or whatever, we’d like not to be deliberately (and often maliciously) mis-gendered. It’s a form of abuse.
9) Many of us make absolutely fantastic parents. Homosexuality is not passed on like a contagion or through teaching, and there’s a great many kids out there who’d be better off with parents than without. In fact, there are studies that show that we tend to make excellent parents that bring up well rounded children, and none to the contrary. The ONLY accusation with any foundation from those that would abuse and denigrate us is that our children suffer an increased risk of abuse and denigration… largely as a result of the policies, attitudes and actions of those that would abuse and denigrate us. Not all of us want children – that’s pretty much the same as the rest of the world. Some of us do want children, and we’d like the same rights to medical technology, adoption, the legal recognition of our families and various federal benefits (including immigration where relevant, with or without children) that everybody else has.
10) Will you please stop trying to cure us? Yes, there’s ‘ex-gay therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy’ for those of us who are having trouble dealing with who we are and the shame, guilt, hate and discrimination that some in society are determined to impose upon us; that is, if we’re willing to risk the psychological damage and increased risk of suicide that comes from suppressing who we are. It should be available for those who openly seek it out – but it’s not a solution, and in fact only a tiny minority are healthy and happy people after it. It doesn’t need promoting, because we don’t need curing. We’re simply not ill, thank you very much, apart from those of us who have developed depression, anxiety and fatigue as a direct result of the acts of abuse, denigration and dehumanisation that have, and continue to be, committed against us.
As individuals, not all of us have experienced all of the above issues – some of us are lucker than others, whether that’s by life circumstances or simply the place of our birth. All of us have been affected by some of the above though, with the group as a whole subject to it all and it really has to stop. THIS is the gay agenda. It is the one and only gay agenda in town. It’s not sinister, it’s not evil, it’s not destructive and it’s most certainly not a corrupting influence on society. It’s equality, pure and simple. I’ll say that word again, in case anybody missed it the first time… it’s equality.
One final time, I state here and now, “Yes, I support the Gay Agenda, and I support it wholeheartedly without shame or reservation.”
Are you with me? Whether gay, straight, trans, queer; whatever or whoever you are, will you join me in this statement?
A well renowned figure in the gaming industry has kindly taken the time to talk with us about equality and diversity in games and the gaming industry. Mr. Ernest Adams, though not a household name, is known to games developers not only as a founder of the first and largest international body for games developers, but also as a developer behind EA’s Madden NFL series, and as a previous lead designer at Bullfrog Productions. Mr. Adams now works as a consultant working with such clients as THQ, Ubisoft, BioWare, the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), while also being a fellow/visiting professor at a number of universities across Europe and the author of several books on game design.
We’re quite honoured that such a person has chosen to speak with us about the industry and his perceptions of it (we can think of very few who’d have their finger closer to it’s pulse!)…
Mr. Adams, You’re very well known in the industry, and a quick google search shows you to have quite an impressive résumé, but for the benefit of readers, could you please tell us a little about your industry experience in your own words?
I’m a 22-year veteran of the game industry. I got started back in 1989 as a programmer (after having spent 7 years programming in another industry first), and then became a game designer and A/V producer. Along the way I helped to put on the Game Developers’ Conference and founded the International Game Developers’ Association. I’m now a game design consultant, part-time university professor, and writer.
What are your thoughts about Mr. Gaider’s response to the “Straight Male Gamer” in the whole Dragon Age 2 affair recently?
I think David Gaider’s response is one of the most eloquent defenses of equal treatment for all that I’ve ever read. I was particularly impressed by his points that privileged classes of people get so used to being catered for that they see any change as negative, and that they often want to deny the privileges they enjoy to others. This goes right to the heart of the gay marriage issue, in which socially conservative heterosexuals insist that they alone should have the right to get married.
We’ve heared of some statistics suggesting that straight male gamers may actually not be as dominant a demographic as people may first imagine, with one claim from a 2006 study that 70% of online gamers are female, and a claim from a 2008 study that 70% of female gamers typically play as male in order to be taken seriously. Do these numbers match up to your impressions of industry demographics?
It’s nowhere near as dominant as people think it is. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s own fact sheet, 40% of all (not just online) players are women, and more adult women play video games (33%) than teenage boys (20%). This directly contradicts the stereotype that the teenage boy is the typical gamer.
I’m less certain about the gender-bending numbers (“Gender-bending” is standard game-industry speak for playing as a member of the opposite sex, with no disapprobation implied for the most part). I’m surprised to hear that “70% of female gamers typically play as male” — I wonder if that means all the time, or just online, and in what sort of game. I would guess that a very large number of female gamers play Solitaire or Bejeweled as themselves without any effort to gender-bend. In offline games I think men are much more likely to choose a female avatar than a woman is to choose a male avatar. This has in part to do with players’ different attitudes about their relationship to their avatar. For men (speaking generally here) the avatar is really just a means of influencing the game world, whereas for women the avatar is more of a means of self-expression. Women spend much more time customizing their avatars into realistic or fantasy versions of themselves; men are more likely to just grab the default and go.
The gaming industry seems to have taken a few steps forward in recent times, but responses to the BioWare story seem to indicate that the demographics of gamers have diversified faster than the industry itself has. There’s a charge that the industry caters especially to a heterosexual male demographic when in fact it doesn’t really need to do much to be more inclusive of many other demographics as well. Do you feel that the industry needs to diversify in such a way?
The industry absolutely needs to diversify its work force and also to learn to reach other kinds of players beyond “straight male gamers.” Straight male gamers are a solved problem, done and dusted. The question is, can straight male game developers learn to make games for gay, or female, or older, or non-Western gamers? I believe they can and damn well should; but in addition, I feel that the industry would benefit enormously from a more diverse work force. Even with the best will in the world, a man isn’t necessarily going to know what appeals to women — and more importantly, what turns them off. We need fresh perspectives.
One of the ways in which people have felt a little left out on occasions, is that in-game options tend to be limited along traditional lines. In setting up and playing RPG game characters, for example, things often seem to be clearly and unnecessarily delineated between male and female options, which excludes both self-identification for transgender people, and the fantasy for straight people. Do you think that this is something the industry could, and perhaps should, easily rectify?
I think it’s asking a lot to demand that game developers include a third androgynous sex, or even FTM and MTF transgender sexes in addition to traditional male/female in their games. It’s a lot of work to do character animations for two sexes, much less four. In the real world we only construct two kinds of rest rooms (the Swedes often construct only one) and all just have to make a choice; and I think the virtual world is the same and for some of the same reasons: it’s expensive. On the other hand, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to let male characters wear female clothing and vice versa if the player wants to.
In many games there’s no particular need for the player to have an in-game sex; Gordon Freeman in Half-Life is never seen and never speaks, so in fact he need not be named Gordon or have the picture that he does on the box. “He” could have been named “Chris Freeman” and been of indeterminate sex if Valve had wanted to. However, in role-playing games with a story, I understand why it’s necessary for players to either choose a sex or accept a given sex. I have some experience with transgendered people and I know that for many of them it’s a situation that dominates daily life, but in a story of adventure and derring-do, the challenges of being a transgendered person really don’t mesh well with the challenges of destroying evil dragons.
Love, lust and romance are powerful human emotions that feature regularly in video games in a variety of guises, not least because by nature they’re a fundamental part of the human psyche. What are your thoughts on any possible need to see options for this in a homosexual context as well as a heterosexual context, and so including options for others while not taking them away from heterosexual players – an equalising of the playing field, as it were?
I’m all for including a variety of romantic opportunities in a game to cater for players of varying sexualities. David Gaider was right on that point: he was serving everyone, not just one group, and I think that’s fair and right. That said, I know that many straight people are uncomfortable or offended being the target of same-sex romantic proposals (and sadly, a great many gay men have been beaten or worse for doing so by accident). This was really the essence of Straight Male Gamer’s complaint; he didn’t like being propositioned by a gay character. Facebook specifically enables people to say they are interested in men or women to try to reduce unwanted proposals, and I think this is a good idea. “Gaydar” isn’t entirely effective even in the real world; it’s much less so when an artificially-intelligent computer character is trying to decide!
Bottom line: yes to same-sex romantic opportunities, but give people the chance to opt out of undesired propositions from either sex.
I’d be remiss not to ask about the old and continuing charge that female non-player characters are often designed to cater more to the stereotypical fantasies of some males, sometimes to the exclusion of female sensibilities. Could you tell us a little about why this may be and whether it’s something that the industry could easily address?
Its roots lie in the fact that the game industry, from the developers up to marketing and to the CEOs who ultimately decide what to spend the money on, are predominantly male and have for many years thought, wrongly, of gamers as teenage boys. It’s something the industry could address without too much difficulty, but it requires some retraining. We don’t need to make pink games or games specifically for women, so much as simply to avoid design decisions that turn women off. Unfortunately, comparatively few men know what those are. Most are entirely unaware, for example, of how female-hostile the average retail game store is. For much, much more on this subject by an expert, read Sheri Graner Ray’s book Gender Inclusive Game Design.
On the subject of inclusivity, do you believe that there’s a significant demographic of people that currently feel excluded from gaming? If the industry were to diversify, though people such as the “Straight Male Gamer” claim that studio’s may lose their custom, is it likely that other people who currently feel excluded will take their place – perhaps even more than take their place. Is it in the commercial interests of game development houses to be more inclusive in this way, in your opinion?
The group most needlessly excluded from gaming is not actually women or gay people — despite the lack of options for those folks. The people most needlessly excluded, and about whom game developers are even more ignorant than they are about women or gay people, are those with disabilities. Game accessibility is in a terrible state. Most developers never give it the slightest thought. In fact, however, it’s quite easy to make games accessible to people with a wide range of problems. Closed captions are technically trivial to implement and make games available to people with hearing impairments, for example.
Something like 23% of the population suffers from some form of impairment; I myself need glasses and am developing arthritis. I don’t think that making games available to these folks will be especially lucrative, any more than installing curb cuts and ramps in sidewalks is lucrative. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. And so should game developers.
You’ve mentioned that increased diversity in the industry would be a good thing. For one final question, would you say that the games development industry would welcome more female and LGBT game developers, and would you give any specific advice to any such person wishing to enter the game development industry?
The industry certainly thinks it would welcome them, but it’s something of an open question whether they will actually feel welcome. So much depends on the corporate culture of the place where you work. I’m on the advisory board of Women in Games International, which is the professional society in the games development industry for women, and know a multitude of women in the business. At a grown-up company that is serious about enforcing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment rules, there should be no problem, but after I moved from California to England, I was shocked to learn how behind the times the UK industry is (and UK culture generally) — “laddish,” and much more dominated by unenlightened young men.
I’ve written a book called Break Into the Game Industry that addresses issues for women and LGBT folks. My main advice is to keep your eyes open when visiting for an interview — if you’re seeing pinups on the walls and no women in positions of power or creative input, watch out. If you hear some young punk using “gay” as a synonym for “stupid,” ditto.
Apart from that, it’s really about showing us what you can do. Job-seeking in this industry is mostly a matter of compiling an awesome portfolio, one that makes the hiring manager say, “Wow… I have got to talk to this person!”
Mr. Adams, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us; it’s sincerely appreciated and has been a real pleasure.
Everybody knows that the games industry has it’s good points and it’s bad points, and Mr. Adams’ responses add weight to such a view. Even so, the responses are important in another way: They show that not only is there change in the gaming world, but there is a willingness to change. There is a recognition of where the industry falls short of the mark sometimes, and in the context of these responses, the recent BioWare story can be seen as a step towards a better future both for the industry and for gamers.
These things take time, but the BioWare story changed the world just that little bit. It might not have had a huge impact, but someone, somewhere will have taken notice. It has shown not only that there’s support for the response of David Gaider, but there’s support for such changes of perspective, attitude and understanding in the games industry in general. Ernest Adams’s responses in this interview are no less important. The answers to these questions come not only from a 22 year veteran of the industry, but one of the leading figures within it. Those who wish to see this greater diversity, inclusivity and equality in the industry may wish to share what he has to say, encouraging that change by doing so.
If you’d like to know more about Mr. Ernest Adams and his work, his website is found at www.designersnotebook.com.
There have been many responses to the recent BioWare story, and many of them absolutely wonderful. In fact, a great many of them have come from straight men and women wishing to point out that the “Straight Male Gamer” whom complained so vehemently to BioWare in no way represents them. What hasn’t been addressed much, is the issue of privilege itself and what it means, apart from in the excellent response from BioWare themselves. We recently stumbled across a YouTube video that addresses just that thing, which in our opinion is almost as awesome as the very story that inspired it. It turns out that the video itself was inspired by the story! [ed note: *blush*]
Privilege, sadly, is a huge issue, though often a contraversial one. The word can often be overused, and the concept can even be used as a bitter slur by those who find their selves less privileged than another. Even so, that doesn’t negate the fact of it’s existence or the impact it has.
The video comes from Warren; a 25 year old gay, transgender, married American immigrant, currently studying Biology at grad school. In it, he gives us not just an idea of what privilege is, but also an explanation of what privilege does and what it means to the people affected by it. It could easily serve as a perfect reply to Mr. Straight Male Gamer, but could likewise be applied to just about any situation. What we found especially brilliant about this video is that he also offers a suggestion as to how the absence of privilege and a sense of automatic entitlement can actually, in some ways, lead to a richer life. He also reminds us of the many groups whom are affected by it, including the little discussed negative affect it can sometimes have on those that hold it their selves.
Put simply, privilege is the power we don’t know we have. It’s the choices and options that we take for granted while others cannot. It’s the mastery of our own freedoms and destinies that we assume as normal, often without ever realising that others simply don’t have the same rights or abilities by the simple circumstances of their existence.
As ever, and as Warren even requests, please feel free to leave your thoughts.
The “Straight Male Gamer” of recent notoriety appears to have responded to the support for BioWare’s excellent answer to his complaint by updating his original post at the thread on the forum. In that update, the hole gets deeper with claims of how many other people who “find it [homosexuality] to be disgusting” are afraid to speak and are being silenced “for fear of being called homophobic by what can only be called a mob”
Over a good few hours of consideration, we’ve been wondering whether or not to publish this story. We could intentionally make a big deal out of it through responding ourselves, so advertising it and by doing so find ourselves promoting privileged nonsense. On the other hand, rather than answering it, we’ve decided simply to say that it exists, and potentially let people themselves show their own opinions on it.
No More Lost was a fairly small blog with a small core following until recently, and the fact that our article on this story went viral as it did took even us quite by surprise! We’ve posted articles on all sorts of issues, events and concerns – some of them big, some of them small, and some of them intended merely to bring hope and show positive change in the world away from hatred and bigotry for those that may be on the receiving end of it. Perhaps we’re still a small blog, or perhaps we now have more eyes on us than we realise. Even so, far be it from us to contribute to the silencing of this poor oppressed self-professed representation of the Straight Male Gamer demographic, we’re going to post this update of his here. While we won’t issue a response at this time, we are more than happy for our readers to offer a brief response if they wish. We don’t approve of a mob mentality, but we feel that there are enough clear and obvious holes in his argument to tear it to pieces with the simplest application of mere cold hard reason. The views of the many, apparently, outweigh the views of the few according to the complainant, and so perhaps by this logic it is best to demonstrate what the views of the many are, if they so choose to offer them.
Again, the complainant;
Seeing as how this post has been linked by a few sites, I thought it’d be proper for me to write a response to Gaider’s reply:
I don’t see how Gaider’s reply was in anyway blasting my arguments. In fact, what Gaider basically said was that “You’re right. Dragon Age 2 was not made specifically for “straight male gamer” in mind. It was made to be all-inclusive.” And that was exactly the accusation I was making. I’m not here to debate the moralities of homosexuality, I personally find it to be digusting but others will feel different, that isn’t the point of this thread.
The whole point of the argument relies on the central point that straight male gamers make up a overwhelming majority of players. As I said before, I estimate that the number is around 80% (this includes straight males gamers who plays a females). Now if my numbers are at all wrong (that in reality the split is 60-40-10 (male, female, gay), then consider this post to be null and void, I’ve wasted your time (No doubt some of you already feel that way).
“And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.”
The idea of privilege is ridiculous. The “privilege” always lies with the majority because if your goal is to make a game that will be liked by as many fans possible, then it makes sense to focus on that largest group. Why should one fan’s enjoyment be more important than five others? It’d more accurate to call “privilege” the idea that some minority group gets special preference for political points. If you really want to be all-inclusive, then I don’t see why homosexuals should get special preference while leaving other minority groups out.
This isn’t a complaint about how I didn’t get everything I wanted. This is a complaint about how this is the first BioWare game I’ve played that I did not enjoy. I’ve seen many complaints about weak characters and weak story. That is also my complaint and I believe stems entirely from trying to be “all-inclusive”. By trying to appeal to so broad of audience, you’ve left a game in which many people are disappointed. You’ll win praises and 10/10’s from gay activists and feminists for your great strides in promoting “equality” and eliminating “straight male privilege”, but you’ll have loss fans like me.
In a perfect world with unlimited resources and time, you might have been able to pull it off, a game in which everyone would love. But this is not a perfect world and you have said many times that your resources are limited, and I believe you could have used them more wisely.
I always like to bring The Witcher up as an example. This is an amazing game and more amazing so that it was developed by a small Polish company. One would think that the game being developed by Polish producers would not be able to connect with a English speak audience, but that is not the case at all. This is game which was inarguably made for straight male gamer. Because the designers only had to worry about that demographic, they were able to create a strong memorable protagonist and strong memorable support characters. They could give us many choices and not worry about having to produce voice-overs for so many different characters. I can only imagine how amazing the game would be if they had the budget that Dragon Age 2 had and its pains me to think about how great Dragon Age 2 could have been.
If your goal is not to make as many fans as possible happy but to enact some form of social crusade then please, market and advertise the game as such. If you believe there are a substantial number of players who would appreciate those features, then advertise it and create trailers for it, don’t lead me to believe that this game was crafted for the straight male. If you truly believe that the straight male gamers are not important enough that you should focus on them, then I would like to see your marketing reflect that.
As a side note, I’d like to say that I’m not at all surprised by all the pro-homosexuality comments and that I expected even more. 1% of a million is still 10000. No doubt you’d have a many of them trying to protect their “privilege” in Dragon Age 2.
Those who agree with me will likely do so silently for fear of being called homophobic by what can only be called a mob as even Gaider pointed out or just won’t bother out of feeling of pointlessness like I once did. But to those people, I encourage you to post as well and not let your concerns be silenced as some would like.
We won’t follow up on the posts and concerns of this user after this update on the story (unless something especially spectacular happens), though any views we are able to seek from games developers and writers following this may prove interesting in their own right.
I’m honestly not pimping out Matt’s Stop 8 videos but he keeps hitting the mark.
This is a familiar meme thats been spread around by NOM and its minons since Proposition 8 passed in California, claiming that African Americans came out in large numbers to vote for Proposition 8. The story they told was that African Americans voted against marriage equality because of their conservative values, which is just a huge stalking horse to hide what’s really going on. Prop 8 passed with a slim majority, of 2%. Polling suggests that after the dust fell and the implications were realized, the general population were so horrified that if an anti-Prop 8 were to hit the ballot in California today, it would pass with a landslide majority.
What happened was a textbook Hate group hatchet job, straight out of the annuls of those opposed to the equal rights movements at the turn of the 19th century, and not only are the tactics the same, one of the groups being targeted were one of the groups who were targeted back then. In the 1890s there was a strong union between the suffragettes and the african american rights communities, and was motivated to the point at which the civil rights era could have predated the first world war.
However those who opposed the efforts managed to turn the white women and african american men against each other, playing on the racial fear mongering of african american equality against the women, and the proto-feminist fears of the african american men, creating a split that took generations to heal.
Now a new battle for equality is looming, and the natural allies of the LGBTQIA population are the African American population who knows all about the hatred and intolerance of right wing christianity. So once again the forces of intolerance once called the Citizens Councils, and the Klu Klux Klan, now their face is groups like NOM and other right wing christian groups. Its the same message, repackaged with Television adverts, threats of million dollar campaigns against politicians and judges who dare rule against them.
So yes the hatermongers are back, with new tricks, lies and technologies, peddling the same old hate on TV, radio, the internet and even attempting to get it onto the iPhone.
But as the fearmongers have evolved, so have we, our lost brother Alan Turing gave the world the computer, and out of that we are united against hatred from corner to corner of this planet. Today we had 33 visitors from alaska, 28 visitors from hawaii, 968 visitors from Texas, 68 visitors from Brazil, 3 visits from Saudi Arabia, 11 visits from Israel, 8 visits from South Africa, 44 visitors from Japan and 149 visitors from New Zealand.
These tactics have been used before, and yes a few generations back they held back equality, but in this generation, in this time, they just seem past their sell by date.
BioWare adopted a (sadly) very special and very principled stance in designing one of their recent games, Dragon Age 2. Their stance was simple: relationships are for everybody, whether gay, straight, or anything else in between. You can also have have more than one romance at a time with the game’s characters. In this game, everybody is equal. Too equal, it seems, for one particular straight male gamer who was upset to be on the receiving end of a little flirting from another male character in the game. The reaction of this Straight Male Gamer? – To post a new thread on Bioware’s forums to complain…
To quote the complainant;
To summarize, in the case of Dragon Age 2, BioWare neglected their main demographic: The Straight Male Gamer.
I don’t think many would argue with the fact that the overwhelming majority of RPG gamers are indeed straight and male. Sure, there are a substantial amount of women who play video games, but they’re usually gamers who play games like The Sims, rather than games like Dragon Age. That’s not to say there isn’t a significant number of women who play Dragon Age and that BioWare should forgo the option of playing as a women altogether, but there should have been much more focus in on making sure us male gamers were happy.
Now immediately I’m sure that some male gamers are going to be like “YOU DON’T SPEAK FOR ME! I LOVE DRAGON AGE 2!”, but you have to understand, the Straight Male Gamer, cannot be just lumped into a single category.
Its ridiculous that I even have to use a term like Straight Male Gamer, when in the past I would only have to say fans, …”
The irony of the complaint is clearly astounding. For those that do not play Dragon Age 2, there is yet a further irony in that the Straight Male Gamer clearly has a huge problem with LGBT people being catered to as well rather than a focus based entirely in Straight Male Gamers (and a little on women too, of course, just as an afterthought). but clearly has no problem with the game allowing inter-species romances between the human player controlled character and an Elf! You couldn’t make it up!
The response from BioWare’s David Gaider was exactly fit for purpose. In fact, BioWare delivered a sharp lesson to this gamer on the subject of Straight Male privilege! Kudos to BioWare for that! In fact, BioWare’s response is quoted here precisely because of how word perfect it truly is! Elements have been emboldened for emphasis.
The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.
More than that, I would question anyone deciding they speak for “the straight male gamer” just as much as someone claiming they speak for “all RPG fans”, “all female fans” or even “all gay fans”. You don’t. If you wish to express your personal desires, then do so. I have no doubt that any opinion expressed on these forums is shared by many others, but since none of them have elected a spokesperson you’re better off not trying to be one. If your attempt is to convince BioWare developers, I can tell you that you do in fact make your opinion less convincing by doing so.
And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.
The truth is that making a romance available for both genders is far less costly than creating an entirely new one. Does it create some issues of implementation? Sure– but anything you try on this front is going to have its issues, and inevitably you’ll always leave someone out in the cold. In this case, are all straight males left out in the cold? Not at all. There are romances available for them just the same as anyone else. Not all straight males require that their content be exclusive, after all, and you can see that even on this thread.
Would I do it again? I don’t know. I doubt I would have Anders make the first move again– at the time, I thought that requiring all romances to have Hawke initiate everything was the unrealistic part. Even if someone decides that this makes everyone “unrealistically” bisexual, however, or they can’t handle the idea that the character might be bisexual if they were another PC… I don’t see that as a big concern, to be honest. Romances are never one-size-fits-all, and even for those who don’t mind the sexuality issue there’s no guarantee they’ll find a character they even want to romance. That’s why romances are optional content. It’s such a personal issue that we’ll never be able to please everyone. The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here.
And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.
BioWare, David Gaider,… That, was AWESOME.
It is true that the gaming world is sadly dominated by Straight Male Gamers. Why? Well, perhaps it’s precisely because the industry has failed to cater to the rest of society so often. So many of us are geeks, and so many of us are gamers, including women and/or LGBT people… and there is absolutely no reason to exclude them. BioWare, it seems, has realised this, and the least the LGBTQIA community can do in return is to acknowledge this fact – and preferably in a way that makes BioWare aware of how welcome and refreshing this attitude is, and how likely it is to pay dividends for them – literally and metaphorically. With that done, hopefully the other big games developers will do likewise.
Thank you, BioWare, for not giving in to the majority. Thank you for letting us in and recognising our equal ‘right’ to play games that we can engage and relate with too!
Do you agree? I hope you do… and if you do, please consider sharing this article to spread the word and give BioWare their reward in reputation and kudos for this, frankly, astoundingly awesome move on their part.
(Update: This story has since been updated here.)
(Follow-up: We were fortunate enough to land an interview with Ernest Adams, who talked to us about equality in gaming.)
Rape is a heinous crime. Next to the taking of a life, the ruinous violation of a person by the most intimate and powerful of means is arguably an act of equally sinister proportions. However, there’s a whole other level to this violation. There is a form of rape with an added and more sinister dimension. That crime, is corrective rape.
In some ways, it’s a terrible title for such a crime. The word “corrective” is generally a word with a positive feel about it, implying some sort of benefit to an action. There is no benefit when this word precedes rape. There can be no benefit to rape. In fact, the word “corrective”, in this context, is quite the opposite. It does worse than to add insult to injury, but actually introduces a second deep and soul destroying violative dimension to the already heinous act of rape.
LGBT, Queer, Intersex and Asexual people with already understand, generally, the nature of this violation, so lets look at it from the perspective of a straight person who’s never before had to consider things from the other side. Let’s also frame this from the perspective of a patriarchal culture, as is very prevalent in many parts of the world, including those nations where this issue is most prevalent.
You’re a heterosexual man… a manly man… happily going about your business. At the end of a day you catch a taxi, or a bus, or a train to make your way back to your home or hotel. A predatory and very strong woman capable of overpowering you has been watching you, and you are assaulted. You are taken aside and out of sight where you are raped – forcibly, and violently. You are violated… the person who raped you may even have infected you with HIV/AIDS.
How does it feel? Pretty awful, by most accounts. You have been violated, treated like a piece of meat, abused, assaulted, made to feel powerless, made to feel guilty, made to feel ashamed… etc. It’s not good is it? There are reasons we have laws against that. There’s a reason it’s called rape and not just “having sex”.
Well, suppose that wasn’t a woman. Suppose you, Mr Heterosexual Male, had just been raped by another man. Now how does it feel? Does it feel worse? You bet it does! If you happen to be a homophobe, it’ll be because you feel an extra sense of shame about what had just happened to you simply because you were taken by a gay man, and you’ll feel terrible for having been part of an act that you find distasteful – if so, you’re ‘lucky’, because that’s no more a sense of violation than the rape itself. On the other hand, if you’re a reasonably and decent human being, it’ll be all the worse because as well as the violation of your physical and emotional form, your identity, your sexual orientation, your very sense of who you are will also have been raped… and yet you STILL don’t have the full understanding of how creative rape feels from this exercise!
For someone who has been victim to a corrective rape, there are other issues too. There’s the prejudice they experience as LGBT people for a start… already victims of ignorance and bigotry, they are made victims of the same in a whole other way… on a deeper and more personal level. They are made victims simply because they are victims in the first place. Then of course, there’s the fact that such rapes are performed under either the excuse or genuine belief that such acts will “make the victim straight”… NO rape helps, and no, the victim will not be made straight – that is an offense to the victim yet again. Are you starting to get a vague understanding of the damage that corrective rape does?.. to women especially, being the most frequent victims of this evil crime.
We spend a lot of time speaking here at No More Lost about the UK and the USA, and while this post stands against corrective rape wherever it occurs, it refers especially to the situation in South Africa. That wonderful state where we celebrate the freedoms and achievements of Mr Nelson Mandela, where Apartheid was ended and the nation supposedly freed from bigotry and hatred. This nation that’s supposedly one of the shining stars of Africa. The nation that brought us the vuvuzela and annoyed us with them throughout the FIFA World Cup just last year.
South Africa’s Constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was the first in Africa to legalise same sex marriage. It was the only republic to give non-heterosexual people exact equal rights until it was joined by Argentina in 2010 (Note to America – please catch up!)… and yet, the practice of corrective rape is commonplace in South Africa and has been for some time. Some reports even say that it’s often ignored! This is really not acceptable, not only because this is a discriminatory crime against gay women in violation not just of the women but of the nation’s constitution too, but also because it is rape. Yes, pure and simple, at the very minimum description of this situation, it is rape, and it needs to stop!
There is a petition (found here) on the web (in fact a few of them here and there), asking the South African Government to stop turning a blind eye to this heinous practice and indeed, their own constitution with regard to LGBT people. Please sign this petition, and please spread the word about this terrible crime against humanity.