A few weeks ago, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced a new project to fight homophobia in virtual communities, including gaming communities. Three months ago, I was invited to participate in a conference call with GLAAD so they could gather views and opinions about homophobia in gaming from regular gamers to prepare for an outreach initiative to major videogame companies. On 18th July, GLAAD will hold a panel to discuss with members of the games industry the issues that LGBT people face in virtual communities and seek some possible solutions to encourage more inclusive, welcoming, and accepting behaviour towards LGBT people in virtual spaces. In the lead-up to this panel, Justin Cole, GLAAD’s Director of Digital Media, wrote an excellent Op-Ed outlining the problem.
Homophobia in virtual communities is a huge problem*. In a world where simply showing support for LGBT rights online, regardless of your sexual orientation, is met with bigotry, and where identifying as LGBT may be greeted with far worse, it’s important that these discussions happen. GLAAD faces a bit of an uphill battle explaining these issues to people of privilege who don’t have the lived experience of being LGBT, and thefore don’t have to worry about any of these issues on a daily basis. The fact that those people are on the panel shows that they’re receptive, so I hope that some good emerges.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, consider attending (RSVP via Facebook).
* Though I am not ignorant of the fact that racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression are equally important and massive problems in their own right as well.