GLAAD’s Project to Combat Homophobia in Virtual Communities

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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.

  3 comments for “GLAAD’s Project to Combat Homophobia in Virtual Communities

  1. 18 July 2009 at 08:10

    Seating Stephen Toulouse on that panels absolutely kills its credibility. Toulouse should be sitting in the audience and taking notes, not speaking on the panel as though he has any authority on the issue of homophobia in gaming. His actions and his policies have contributed to the problem of homophobia in gaming communities more than any single gamer out there. Thanks GLAAD but really, no thanks.

  2. 18 July 2009 at 08:19

    The impression that I got from GLAAD is that they are really not knowledgeable about homophobia in online environments. They should have had queer gamers and people who have expertise in creating policies that protect LGBT (and other oppressed groups) on the panel, and invited people from the industry to learn from those people. GLAAD is eager to learn, but I feel they’re not getting the right kind of guidance on how to approach this. I tried to give them as many suggestions as I could, but I don’t know how much they took them on board and whether they will consider them.

  3. Gunthera1
    20 July 2009 at 08:19

    Toulouse being on the panel could be acceptable if he used it as a platform to announce broad changes in xbox policy both for gamertags/profiles and online harassment. But, I am not getting my hopes up.

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