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.
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.
Back in the days before the current administration at the White House, the US refused to sign up to a declaration at the UN that gay people are people too. In the face of people being imprisoned and killed around the world simply because of who they loved, the US turned it’s head.
There’s always the argument that it is not for the US to impose it’s values on the rest of the world, but this was the self same administration that went to war with those very countries that take issue with the idea of gay people being people too -Those same dictatorial regimes that see gay people as infidels and in any other number of dehumanising ways.
The next administration corrected this. The next administration almost immediately said that it wanted to add America’s name to that declaration… and then did nothing. It did virtually nothing at home or abroad for a long time, until recently. We’ve seen the repeal of the unconstitutional, discriminatory DADT policy; We’ve seen protection in one of the fundamental aspects of US life -simply existing- in the form of the passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and most recently, the unconstitutionality of major aspects of the rights denying and indeed life destroying DOMA has been recognised at the highest levels. At last, the administration has begun to ‘walk the walk’ at home.
America has just gone that one step further at the UN in issuing a statement backed by more than 80 countries, calling for the United Nations’ top human rights body to combat discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world.
Let’s for a moment, forget which administration did what, and which president serves which party. The fact is, whichever president it is, and whichever party it is, American values are still American values. Too often, things are reduced to the politics of personality, the politics of parties, or the politics of causes. Let’s, for this moment, look at this in the context of America…
… Finally, the United States is standing up more consistently in not just talking the talk, but walking the walk, in defense of it’s values. The message this statement effectively gives out to the world is that, yes, the United States not only holds “… these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, but is prepared to stand by this belief. It stands up for the protection of it’s citizens in their freedom to travel the world. It says that the US views gay people as human beings too, and thus deserving of human rights both at home and abroad.
This is perhaps one of the most positive, honest and virtuous messages the US could possibly be sending out to the world. It doesn’t always take military intervention or trade sanctions to lead the world – in fact, the most powerful message that can be sent is that of “we are virtuous in our values – that all men and women are created equal – and we are proud to stand up for them wherever we are present”.
It’s a message of true character, integrity and honesty, and by those that share your most virtuous values, America, you are deeply thanked for it. Let those of your citizens whom have forgotten America’s values and virtues be reminded of them.
Apple have in the past supported LGBT rights. In fact they donated to the Prop 8 cause in favour of equality. However, all may not be as it seems just from that one act.
Following the removal of an application by the Manhattan Declaration a few months ago which said quite clearly that same sex couples are ‘sexually immoral’, originally given a 4+ rating by Apple implying it to be entirely family friendly with no objectionable content… an app that was only removed following a campaign and petition against it… Apple have done it again.
Yes, our ‘good friends’ at Exodus International have introduced an application to an app store near you, intended to deliver a dangerous message to tech savvy young adults: ‘You can be “freed from homosexuality” and have your sexual orientation “cured” if you’re LGBT.’ Yes, this is the same Exodus International that promotes the universally condemned snake oil of “ex-gay therapy”, which has been described as causing catastrophic damage to the mental health of it’s victims by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.
Worse yet, Apple have, again, given this app a 4+ rating, once more branding the app as entirely inoffensive and harmless, even though the group tells gay kids that their sexual orientation is “immoral,” “satanic”, and in need of a cure, which we all know to be the very kind of insulting and frankly degrading and oppressive bigotry that contributes to depression, anxiety, isolation, and even suicide.
There is a petition to remove the app from Apple’s app store, though at this point, we have to consider motives here. Yes, they donated against Prop 8, but while a significant amount of money, $100,000 dollars is really a drop in the ocean to Apple – hell, they’re getting good PR just because I’m mentioning it now. On the other hand, not only do Apple make a big deal of banning any app from their store that could possibly be objectionable to anyone in the majority of their userbase, they seem to not only have allowed these bigoted anti-gay applications, but also rated them as being entirely inoffensive, and only removed the last one due to the petition and widespread outcry over it. This one looks likely to follow suit (unless of course Apple really wants to be seen to be anti-LGBT). The fact is, Apple is a company founded on it’s image… it’s why it has the rules it has. Someone at Apple clearly feels that declaring these apps as inoffensive and even allowing them in the first place is not only acceptable, but perfectly OK with the company image.
The choice between Android, Research In Motion and Apple just got political. No… further than that, it just got moral. This, from Apple, is not acceptable, and if LGBT people do not show them how such actions will hurt, in the app store sales, the phone store sales, the music store sales… etc … who will?
Please sign the petition, and please consider sending your own message to Apple… but please don’t ignore what you’re paying to support in buying into it at the moment.
State senator Mark Leno of California is proposing that we teach our children about LGBTQIA history the same way we have Black History, and Women’s History.
He makes it clear and unequivocal that this is a matter of civil rights, and a clear continuum for LGBTQIA rights being the next stage in the civil rights process. It is clear that those who oppose equality are just the same as those who opposed Black History, and Women’s Studies because they were bigots, just the same as this lot.
This is an open letter to the ‘Land of the Free’, and indeed, all those living under the colourful tones (and yes, I mean colourful… I’m a Brit!) of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. This is a letter both to and about America and her people. This is a letter about liberty, democracy, equality, opportunity, merit, forgiveness and compassion. This is a letter about basic human decency.
Dear United States,
What the hell is going on with you? I grew up being taught of the many wonderful ideals that America held dear, and it once gave me some belief that there was a country in this world with the sense of fairness and decency to act out those ideals. Some of those ideals are supposedly the founding principles of your nation, and some of them simply ideals that America holds dear… ideas and ideals worth defending. Much of your country, after all, was founded with a population that grew from those that escaped the tyranny, persecution, and oppression they found in Britain, and even in Ireland. Yet more people have joined you since then from around the world, some of whom were slaves -OK, not a bright point in history, but at least Americans saw fit to eventually put an end to it – indeed, that Mr. Luther King was able to stand up as he did as a figurehead of the civil rights movement is just one example of how a man can supposedly start from humble beginnings and rise to greatness in America. Actually, I had grown up to think of you not just as a world leader, but one that leads by example.
Sadly, I no longer believe in that magical land of freedom I was taught about. It doesn’t seem to exist any more, and it’s a great loss to the world that it doesn’t exist. It is of course no great loss to LGBTQIA Americans, who have grown up with first hand experience of the flaws of your once great nation which serve to ensure that it is not free. All men (and women) under the American flag are not equal! Your levels of gun crime are truly shocking, and entitlement to healthcare was a shambles until recently, and is threatened to be so again by a Republican led congress determined to engage in culture war rather than concentrate on jobs, with jobs being the policy they were elected on. Britain is not perfect in this department either, but that excuses neither country and Britain isn’t the so-called ‘land of the free’.
The GOP led house has just voted to remove funding for Title X provisions; provisions which any civilised society should provide to anybody that needs them. Unfortunately those that cannot afford to pay for it can no longer gain access to…
- pelvic exams and Pap tests, important for early detection of cervical cancer;
- breast exams and instruction on breast self-examination
- testing for high blood pressure, anemia, and diabetes;
- screening and appropriate treatment for sexually transmitted infections; and
- basic infertility screening.
… and how are those unable to access these things supposed to have a choice over their own health, let alone their own lifestyle? Is this is an ill informed attack on women in an attempt to keep them fidelitous and stop them having sex? Why? Is it because a bunch of so-called Christians in your country feel that only God’s way is the right way, and so do all they can to bend and shape your nation into their theocratic image? I mean, what’s the difference between a theocratic society and laws based on theocratic ideas anyway? How is such theocratic rule supposed to be any better than that of any other theocratic state… like, for example, Iran? Of what value is separation of Church and State if the secular laws of the land are created by those who wish to enshrine their religious beliefs into legislation intended to enforce the moral code of their favoured deity and holy book?
Why, in this enlightened age, are abortion doctors murdered by those who profess to be ‘pro-life’?.. and on what planet is the murder of an abortion doctor ‘justifiable homicide’, as recently proposed by Republican Representative Phil Jensen in South Dakota? Why are transgender people in the US denied treatment known to be successful for their condition, and why are they so often denied the right to ammend their documentation appropriately… even reported by names they were no longer known by after their deaths and mistreated at the hands of public servants.
What about marriage equality… why? Why is it that an LGBTQIA person can serve their country in any number of patriotic ways, and yet be denied the right to be married? Why is it that when Proposition 8 passed (dubiously) in California, it was hailed as a show of the democratic will of the people, but it doesn’t work that way around when opponents of marriage equality fail to impress with their bigotry. Instead, in a state like New Hampshire where most people support already existing marriage equality, Republicans try to pass bills to repeal it… and when that fails, people like Republican Representative David Bates suggest that a consitutional amendment could serve the same purpose if the bill is defeated… Where’s the democracy in that, in a state with 29% against marriage equality, 9% neutral, and 62% in favour of it? This isn’t representing the people! This is using the people as pawns to get into government in order to use their position in an effort to force through THEIR views, not the people’s!.. and it’s happened on both a state and federal scale!
Making it worse, what’s happening about an immigration policy that not only has no policy for gay people, but specifically refuses to recognise the marriages of those who ARE in a state where their marriages are recognised. Where is the American dream or the freedom, liberty, fairness and compassion in throwing someone out of the country or refusing to let them in, just because they happen to be gay, where a straight person in the same circumstances would be welcomed?
Oh America! How can you go to war on false pretences of WMD’s that don’t exist with a claim of “spreading democracy and freedom around the world”, when such monumental democratic failings, culture wars, and illiberty permeate your once great nation?
Much of the western world has woken up to the bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and illiberty of the past. Many countries now recognise transsexual men and women for who they really are, and even allow them to get married accordingly. Many countries in the western world allow same sex marriage, and many of those that don’t offer a non-marriage civil union which is not enough, but at least something. America doesn’t even reliably offer a civil union, and it’s benefits are limited where it IS available! America, are you really willing to be left behind and stand there as a pariah state of intolerance, hatred and bigotry in not affording these people recognition of their relationships on your soil, for immigration purposes or otherwise?
I used to look up to the United States as a country of freedom, fairness and opportunity. Now, the United States is simply a disappointment. Would the real United States please catch up?
I’ve seen it reported in US media from time to time, that same sex marriage exists in the UK. It doesn’t. What exists in the UK is a segregated system of sexuality based apartheid. If you’re straight, you can get married, and if you’re LGBT, you can have a ‘civil partnership’. However, the issue of marriage equality is now emerging into UK public consciousness.
A civil partnership is largely like a marriage in terms of its legal effects, but it is not a marriage. In fact, it was deliberately stripped of any and all emotional or spiritual connotations entirely. A marriage in the UK is binding from the point that vows are spoken, and yet, a civil partnership is created instead from the signatures on a legal contract. A straight couple who hold a religious or spiritual faith may choose to incorporate elements of their beliefs into the ceremony. They have the option of making their marriage special in their way, and to honour their love and commitment in the manner most meaningful to them. LGBT people do not have this option. For married people, adulterous behaviour is grounds for divorce if they so choose -the same is not true of civil partners. Even if these differences did not exist, the law makes clear that a civil partnership is not a marriage. Marriage equality is what was sought, and the UK gave LGBT people something less. They deliberately segregated gay and straight people, and effectively said that gay people should not be afforded the right to get married or celebrate their love and commitment in anything that resembles a personal, spiritual way, and so creating a greater and a lesser form of partnership. In fact, this discrimination is so firmly entrenched that transsexual people, if married, must actually divorce only to then obtain a civil partnership in order to have their personal details officially corrected.
Ever since the Civil Partnerships Act recieved Royal Assent in 2004, there has been a cry for full marriage equality. A cry which is finally beginning to be heared across all three major political parties, with the Liberal Democrats having even gone so far as to make marriage equality a matter of their party policy… and well they might, as marriage equality in the UK is a very popular move to make. Opinion polls show a consistent majority in favour of equal rights and an end to the discrimination. Sadly though, the politicians are slow to practice what they preach.
Currently, the Government is faced with an opportunity and with pressure to end this discrimination as stipulated by legislation passed last year. The legislation makes very clear that no religious institution opposed to same sex partnerships would be required to perform them or to allow their places of worship to be used for them.
Many Liberal Democrats will no doubt be quick to claim any extention of LGBT rights towards marriage equality as a sign of their success and moral standing in Government. However, it should also be noted that the provisions which call for the change allowing LGBT people to involve their religious beliefs in their civil partnerships comes from an Equality Act, written last year under the leadership of a Labour Government (the self same act that effectively rolled back some of the rights of transsexual people, and decided that LGBT bullying in schools should not be specifically remedied). The implementation of the law allowing for this positive step towards marriage equality has in fact been delayed for a year by the current government. The fact is, when it comes to LGBT rights, none of the political parties have a particularly good record when it comes to actually fighting to do something about it -some worse than others, the worst, sadly, being the party leading the current Government!
Even so, this is a remarkably important step forward, at least in its potential, and it should be considered as such. The consultation undoubtedly will involve many churches vehemently opposed to marriage equality. These churches are worried that with the key difference in the ban on religious components to civil partnerships being removed, there would be no real reason not to call them marriages – and rightly so, because they’re right! However, there is no word from the Government on whether Civil Partnerships will be changed so that they may be referred to as marriages… it’s not really even on the agenda. The Government has simply suggested that it might think about it some time. The question is whether it is right that LGBT people who wish to be able to recognise their beliefs in a ceremony marking their partnership should be able to… and if their beliefs (or those of their church) allow for this, is there any fair reason why they should not be allowed to? No. There isn’t.
The right wing press is predictably spinning and overblowing the comments of church leaders to suggest a fear that they will be forced to perform gay marriages. It’s as predictable as it is tiresome. Left unchecked, extremist churches and right wing mariage equality opponents may well water down any eventual positive step towards marriage equality, or block it altogether. This should not be allowed to happen – at least not without firm opposition to such underhanded and homophobic intentions.
Fellow No More Lost writer Gemma, in her recent piece about France’s failure to ensure mariage equality, notes the way that the energy of the movement was lost following a homophobic court ruling in 2004. Reading her article, and noting the lack of widespread opposition to marriage equality, I have to wonder why. It seems to me that an explanation may be that unless related to an oppositional religious group, most heterosexual people aren’t exceptionally bothered by marriage equality, given that they don’t really have much cause to think about it and it doesn’t effect them.
For that reason, and that reason alone, as the issue of marriage equality enters the UK public consciousness, and as the right wing press spews out it’s typical homophobic propaganda and lies about the reality of what’s going on, it’s more important than ever that we make our case. It is more important than ever that we make ourselves heared. It is now more important than ever that we, LGBT people and our heterosexual allies, ensure that the public at large have more information than just the usual nationally disseminated lies and propaganda, and that the public consciousness of the issue also forms around an understanding of the wrongs and impacts that marriage INequality gives rise to.
I keep hearing this as a reason why gay marriage should be stopped, because its all part of a slippery slope. Admittedly growing up in a close minded community i assumed that couples were normal, and anything else was odd. However as we grow up we change both in outlook and what we want.
I’ve evolved to the point that in many ways i’m no longer even looking for the one. I’m far from finding a life partner. I do have people who are unbelievably important to me in my life but i don’t think one person would necessarily fill all my needs. I have no plans one way or another, its all part of the journey of personal evolution.
Its a situation today where LGBTQA activists almost shy away from the Poly group because “that’s too weird” and claim that they just want gay marriage nothing more. I see it as a milestone, and also a recognition of the ways families have been throughout all time, only more openly. To quote my favorite example, the only reason that the dried up gene pool of the Royal Families of Europe have not become so inbred they cannot breed is because the royal women have been having enough affairs that new blood has sneaked into the royal bloodlines.
Husbands and Wives had Mistresses and Lovers, you did not necessarily marry who you loved, and quite commonly Husbands and Wives had Lovers and Mistresses…
I don’t want to get ENDA, Marriage equality, DADT repeal and Hate crimes and leave it at that, we need to recognize that our society is evolving to have open relationships between more than 2 people. This is not the abusive Latter Day Saint, or Islamic polygamous practice of having more than one wife, each of which is a separate often competitive relationship to the other wives.
Looking at some of my friends, i’ve seen relationships of more than the norm, and unsurprisingly given the stability of a mature adult relationship, these families are perhaps even stronger than the couples I see around me.
Its about having a group relationship. To give a basic primer, assume you have a relationship of Henry, William and Denise. This means that…
- Henry is married to William and they have a physical and emotional relationship
- Henry is married to Denise and they have a physical and emotional relationship
- William is married to Denis and they also have a physical and emotional relationship
- Henry, William and Denise all share a bed, and are a married triplet who are physically and emotionally committed to each other
While the studies showing LGBTQA parents being wonderful and capable parents are numerous, the social stigma of Polyamorous families has resulted in there not being so many studies, anecdotally from the families I know, the children are some of the most well adjusted and capable children i’ve ever seen.
I know we aren’t going to get legal polyamorous marriages tomorrow, or even when DOMA is finally struck down as evil and bigotted, but those who care about what is right, just and true, need to realize there are fights still to have.
It’ll be a while but one the day I want my child to be able to check out a book from the public library called “Charlie has a Mummy, a Daddy and a Dafu”…
I’m not a Christian. I’m not especially a massive supporter of religion in general either, though firmly of the belief that everybody needs to have a little faith sometimes – it just doesn’t have to necessarily be in a God. As such, I pass little judgement on Christianity itself, but I’m just as capable as the next person of observing the things done and the sentiments expressed by people in its name, and to compare those with the Christian teachings that, lets face it, most of us in the western world have encountered whether we’re Christian or not.
In 2003, the Episcopalian Church was the first large Christian denomination in the world to elect an openly gay Bishop, and did so in spite of a smear campaign that pandered to all the usual dirty tactics – including hugely overinflated accusations of sexual assault, which were investigated and disproved… and he was elected by a significant majority, demonstrating the majority of the denomination’s commitment to people – human beings – and no sexualities.
On New Years day this year, 2011, comes another commendable first from this same denomination – the wedding of two high-level priests, who incidentally happen to be lesbian, is thought to be a first for the US.
Meanwhile, in what must surely be a bitter pill to swallow for many viewers of the conservative current affairs channel Fox News, the US State Department has announced that Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents, and significantly, passport applications, will no longer ask for the entry of “mother” and “father”, but of the gender neutral fields “parent 1″ and “parent 2″. This move allows for the recognition of both family situations arising from such things as IVF treatment, and of course, families with same sex parents. The new passport applications will be rolled out in February.
Of course, religious right so-called “pro family groups” are proclaiming outrage and insanity at this move – nothing is unexpected about that! “Political Correctness gone mad” is the cry. They argue that this change somehow provides less information than the previous “mother” and “father” fields. This is a stance, however, that betrays the true hypocrisy of such groups. As the State Department explains, through deputy assistant Secretary of State Brenda Sprague;
These improvements are being made to provide a gender neutral description of a child’s parents and in recognition of different types of families. … We find that with changes in medical science and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago.
In other words, this move from the State Department is a move that simply recognises families which already exist – what’s so wrong with that? Simply, the so-called “pro family groups” doing the complaining are very picky about which families they are in favour of. A family with LGBT parents is still a family, but religious right pro family groups would evidently prefer that it weren’t recognised as such. It’s obviously not their views on family that inform them in this, but their so-called “Christian” views on homosexuality. Such duplicity and misrepresentation doesn’t sound very Christian at all!
What can we learn from all this? What message can we take from it? What does it show? I propose that these recent events, considered together, say two important things. The first of these things is a confirmation of the old adage that “empty vessels make the loudest noise”. While these pro family groups ironically and duplicitously campaign against the recognition of those families they don’t like the idea of and practice bigotry and discrimination in the name of their religion, they claim their view to be the Christian way – it’s not. It’s simply the ideological view of the christian religious right, who in ignorance of the actual reality they face, do not espouse the view of Christianity as a whole. That much is demonstrated by the Episcopalian Church, whose most senior episcopal official of Massachusetts has spoken of the much kinder and more christian view that, “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a lifelong commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other.”
Secondly, there is a message of hope, and a sign of increasing change. 25 years ago, in the middle of the 1980′s, gay people were blamed for the spread of AIDS, or the HIV virus as we now understand it. It was described as a “man made disease”, with gay people being the primary vectors through which it is spread. This of course is now recognised as nonsense, but going back 25 years ago, such ideas were exemplary of the widespread misunderstanding and vilification of gay people. Quite simply, it was not OK to be gay. These days, while LGBT people face significant inequality and outrageous discrimination in various areas, it is much more socially acceptable to be gay. We’re not quite there yet but we’re making progress, and the events and changes described in this article exemplify the positive direction in which things are moving – that the State Department would recognise same sex families in its passport applications would have been utterly unthinkable just 10 years ago.
There is hope. There is change. The generation that now finds itself all grown up has seen this change, and it’s something to celebrate. It’s not enough and there’s still work to be done, but it’s heading there. This generation of young LGBT people have every reason to hope and to believe that in continuing this work, as they grow up and live out their lives, there can be and will be full equality.
Following up our previous article about the candidates for the RNC chair being interviewed by the National Organization for Marriage.
We keep assuming that each victory we win, those victories cannot be rolled back, but already the Republicans are salivating about rolling back marriage equality in New Hampshire, and NOM is demanding that the remaining Iowa justices are stripped of their rights for daring to rule for equality.
Now Michael Steele, is arguing for a federal gay marriage ban, while at the same time claiming he’s not opposed to gay equality. In the same conversation he says he’s not a bigot, but at the same time tells us that gay relationships are inferior for children, despite countless independent studies showing that LGBTQA parents are as good as straight parents.
On the one hand he wants to use the sabre of states rights, like the slave trading south, and later the segregationist south. On the other hand he wants to use the club of federal restrictions, not disimilar to the evils of DOMA, Plessy vs Ferguson and other bigoted actions.
The republican party no matter how you feel about its other policies is as bad as the southern democrats or the dixiecrats, who opposed civil rights in the 1960s talking about civil rights, traditional family values, and religion. Through intolerance, misinformation and fear, they seek to not only hold the line against justice and equality, they want roll back the progress we’ve made.
If you are a republican, please ask yourselves if you would have voted for the dixiecrats, because by voting for the republicans and not calling them to task for their homophobia, you are supporting a no less disgusting a party than that abominable party.
Equality will win out, but scumbag bigots like Michael Steele just make our lives harder to feed into their dislike of LGBTQA people.
There are an order of terrible crimes, and to many including myself rape is a far more horrific crime than murder. However there is a class of rape that is even more horrific and that is corrective rape, a crime that believes that rape can benefit someone in a female body, either of lesbian or transgender identification.
While it is not a matter of state policy in the US or the UK, it is often condoned and supported by governments such as those in Uganda.
Note, it is not the official state policy of Uganda, however it happens frequently at the hands of the police, and is rarely prosecuted when it happens at the hands of the church and the community
In South Africa, it is still at epidemic proportions, and still the South African government has yet to implement any hate crimes legislation.
Here is a petition being run by Change.org, to insist that the Justice ministry acts to correct this horrific situation.
This is not an exclusively South African problem, and occurs whenever society doesn’t like the fact that a female bodied person is true to themselves.
Story via Change.org
The winter solstice, which goes by many names, is represented by a beautiful phrase “Half Way Out of the Dark” as spoken by the Doctor.
Things feel pretty dark right now, the conservative right wing has just practiced a purge on its more moderate types, and now has gotten into the majority of the House of Representatives.
Barack Obama, while being a good centrist leader, is not the progressive president we’d hoped for, were ENDA implementation and DOMA repeal high priorities, you’d hope they would have been pushed through or least brought up during this Congress.
Uganda is still going ahead with their gay genocide bill, and the Christian Right is looking at their situation practically salivating at the possibilities. Look at the Tea Party caucus coalescing around Jim DeMint and his hatred.
The extraordinary thing about the winter solstice is that at the same time as being the shortest, darkest, most miserable day of the year, with a progression of it getting darker and shorter its the first day it starts getting brighter and sunnier.
There is a large grouping of intolerant people on the right, often formed around religious groups, that wants to roll back the progress. They are afraid of us, and out of fear and hatred they bring up voices like Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller and Sharon Angle.
However our allies are growing, a large majority of Americans recognizing the fact that gay discrimination is wrong, and its only a matter of time before those people realize that they need to support full equality. We help that every day that we are true to ourselves, not ashamed, not in the closet, and not quiet.
If you are hiding in the closet at work, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Maybe in your church you hide yourself for a quiet life, its time to stop, its time to stand up. Thankfully now my gay brothers and lesbian sisters will soon be able to stand up for themselves in the military. We are not a quiet passive minority, we are an army of repressed, brilliant, wonderful, shining people, and now is the time to not wait for the light, but create it.
We shouldn’t be waiting, we have to stand up, today we should have equality, so waiting for tomorrow is too late.
I’m Gemma, I’m a lesbian identified, occasionally guy dating, transgender woman, and I’m standing up for today being the day we get equality.
I keep hearing that i shouldn’t paint the republicans with the lgbtqa-phobic brush that i do despite a track record of trying to make my life and the life of everyone different more difficult.
Here is a sample of the opinions on gay equality but the current contenders for RNC chairman.
We have number 1:Reince Priebus
We have number 2:Gentry Collins
We have number 3: Ann Wagner
Aside from the fact that all these candidates have no idea of the thousands of happy successful children of LGBTQA families, and cling to antiquated homophobic talking points. They ignore years of studies showing that there are no inherent disadvantages to having an LGBTQA family.
One of the candidates even talked proudly of the anti-gay rhetoric of 2004. We are facing a political party that is applying a litmus test of hatred for LGBTQA equality, to its candidates, and that is dangerous on 2 large fronts. Firstly it means that when the republicans get in, they will make our lives miserable. Already they are talking about trying to stop DADT repeal from happening. Secondly it means that the Democrats feel like they don’t need to stand up so much for LGBTQA equality. When your other choice is someone who is campaigning on repealing your rights, you have to choose the lesser of two evils.
I am a lefty liberal socialist, so i sit to the left of the left wing of the democratic party, so i’m not in favor of republican policies, however i’d like to see a more sane moderate republican party, with sane voices like Meghan McCain rather than extremists like Sharon Angle because its better for the country, and its better for the cause of equality.
However with voices like Ann Wagner, Reince Priebus and Gentry Collins, I don’t see a sane republican party in future, only more hatred and vitriol against LGBTQA people and other minorities….
Anybody that recognises the title of this article will instantly realise that it’s about to illustrate something ridiculous. Fittingly, it comes from Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”; the Holy Grail, in this case, being the ‘right’ sought by some Christians to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s a cry all too familiar in the US, and recently in the UK alike, where those facing laws preventing the enactment of bigotry in the name of religion scream out “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”, which is no less ridiculous from these religious figures, public servants and so-called ‘pro-family’ groups than it was when it came from Michael Palin’s Dennis, the infuriatingly awkward peasant in The Holy Grail.
As reported by The Telegraph, a UK based tabloid newspaper with a conservative bias, the Bishop of Winchester (the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt) chose the day after Christmas to deliver his gift of wisdom to the nation on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World This Weekend’. Namely, that he notes that “The Human Rights Act is protecting the rights of minority groups while encouraging judges and politicians to discriminate against Christians”. Could he be complaining of a “war against Christmas”? Perhaps, but no. Instead, he warns us that “the death of ‘religious literacy’ among those who made and administered the law had created an imbalance in the way in which those with faith were treated compared to sexual minorities.” By sexual minorities, of course, he means gay people. Once again, a religious figure is effectively complaining that the refusal to allow Christians to discriminate against gay people is, in fact, discrimination against Christians.
There is a temptation here to pick apart his argument statement by statement – while it may sound reasoned on the face of it, it’s absolutely jam packed full of straw men. Instead though, lets go for the jugular – those things that are pretty much universal in such claims, and that which forms the basis of his argument.
Firstly, there are LGBT Christians too – and so by definition, “sexual minorities” and “Christians” are not separate, disparate groups. Support of the human rights of “sexual minorities” does not and cannot mean discrimination against Christians.
Secondly, there is an argument that people of strong faith should be able to realise their faith and live it rather than simply pay lip service to it. This is actually a very strong argument, with one flaw; where does it say in christian scripture that Christians must interfere in other people’s lives, be dismissive of gay people or refuse to provide them with services, push their beliefs onto other people, refuse to “love thy neighbor” because that neighbor happens to be gay or insist that gay people don’t make good parents? Sure, a person of conscience must of course act by their conscience – but what informs it? Certain Christians believe that God insists that man should not lie with man, but since when are genuine Christians the enforcers of Gods law rather than its adherents? A person who believes that gay sex is wrong according to their faith can live and realise that faith by not having gay sex. It’s that simple. Christian scripture actually warns against pronouncing judgement on others!
Finally, of course, there’s the issue of Human Rights itself. These are rights that each human being has by virtue of being human. Inalienable rights stemming from one’s existence as a human being. It seems to be that those that wish to create a right for the religious to discriminate against LGBT people (the right never existed in the first place – more of a wrong that was allowed to happen) either don’t understand the concept of Human Rights, or believe that they should be defined in accordance with their personal religious beliefs – it’s a little bit crazy when you really think about it.
No Reverend, religious literacy doesn’t have a place in lawmaking, except in laws directly relating to religion. Laws that public/secular services must be provided on a non-discriminatory basis do not qualify as laws directly relating to religion. They may, however, go some way to righting the wrongs of those few religious people who practice bigotry, mean spiritedness and hate in the name of their religion.
Apparently, being the new Microsoft is not good enough for Google. For all of Microsoft’s ills, it never stooped to the new low which google has recently reached.
It’s no secret that Google is a behemoth of a corporation. In fact, it’s now so big that it has a measurable affect on internet traffic flows like a “giant gravity bending star”. Consider the size of the internet and it becomes obvious just how huge that really is. It’s the biggest search engine on the web, and derives 99% of its revenue through advertising, making it an incredibly powerful force (if not the most powerful) in advertising on the web, and a significant voice in the shaping of trends and opinions.
The thing is, with great power comes great responsibility. This great responsibility could easily be modeled on Wil Wheaton’s excellent motto, “Don’t be a dick”. Unfortunately, the memo doesn’t appear to have gotten through to Google. Or at least, it got through but they used it for cheap PR instead. Google’s infamous unofficial corporate motto is of course, “Don’t be evil”, but they don’t appear to be abiding by this fine ideal. Embarrassingly, they’re doing just the opposite.
Yes, Google has set a new record for evil, both for censorship, and for its treatment of LGBT history.
Queers in History is a nearly 600 page encyclopedia of famous gay, lesbian and bisexual people — over 900 prominent people from 2450BC to today. First published on diskette in 1993, later published on CD-ROM in 1994, having been distributed by 600 independent bookstores worldwide and a number of major book chains, it’s been around for a while. It’s a respectable academic work on what is often referred to as the academic subject “Queer history” or “Queer studies”. In fact, it’s been advertised through Google for a number of years.
In the last few days, its author has suddenly received a (first, and) “Final Warning” from google for contravention of Google’s terms and conventions for its advertising service. The breach was suggested as being “adult content”, making the advertisement not “FamilySafe”. Naturally, the surprised author wrote in some detail to Google, who failed to offer a more specific explanation. In fact, the only clarification of their assertion is the following…
“FamilySafe’ is considered to be language, images and products in ad text and/or site content that is appropriate for all audiences. ‘Non-FamilySafe’ is considered to be language, images and products in ad text and/or site content intended and appropriate for adult users. ‘Adult Content’ is considered to be any site, regardless of language, images and products in ad text and/or site content, that includes graphic language and/or nudity. ‘Nudity’ – We consider nudity to be any picture where the model is not clothed. This includes sites where images have been blurred or are strategically covered with graphics such as stars, bars, words etc. Google takes into consideration the language in your ad text as well as the overall focus, purpose and content of you site. Graphic language in ad text as well as graphic language or images on the website will influence the status of the ad.”
Essentially, it all comes down to the original charge that the ad for the book breached one or more of these four red lines, namely than an ad must not contain
- Any material intended for persons over 18.
- Mature sexual themes, nudity, and/or sexual activity.
- Crude or indecent language.
- Offensive or inappropriate content.
It’s been an awfully long time since the word “queer” could be considered to be “crude or indecent language”. In fact, as previously mentioned it’s now even used as the title of an entire field of study by academia. There are queer writers on this very site.
What Google are essentially saying by this objection to the ad is that queer people and their history – a history we can all be proud of – are not family safe. Google is saying that our lives and our history constitute “adult content” – a phrase synonymous with pornography. This, is an outrage, without a doubt. This is censorship of the worst kind. This, from a company that supposedly prides itself on a motto of “don’t be evil” is absolutely shameful!
What sort of message is google sending out by this? What sort of bigoted, evil, intolerant and antisocial attitudes is google reinforcing by classing a factual history book as “adult content” and not “familysafe” just because it happens to be the history of queer people?
Do the upper echelons of Google even know about this? Do they agree with it? If not, it’s about time they did, because what is being done in Google’s name is absolutely inexcusable. There can be no circumstances in which this is a just and reasonable statement for Google to be making. None at all!
Shame on you Google. Shame on you.
… and shame on your employees for endorsing this. This shows your true colours, and they’re truly ugly.
Update: As of the day of posting, “Thanks to an overwhelming public response, Google has apologized and appears to be setting things right.” Google sent the following email to Queers In History;
Hello Keith, It has come to our attention that your ad disapproved on 30th November 2010 was in error. I have made the change and your ad is now approved, Family Safe and running on Google. Please accept my apology for an inconvenience caused.
Though as one commenter has stated; “That’s good! But of course it doesn’t resolve the issue of why the ad caused any problem in the first place — This reminds me of when celebrities or news pundits use anti-gay slurs and then apologize afterwards. THINK before you act! Read the ad before you reject it, Google!”