Posted by Lesbian Gamers
MS XBL Gay equals sex? – Article

MS XBL Gay equals sex? – Article

It’s easy to have a knee jerk reaction to some things, but hardly ever conducive to putting things on the table where they can be discussed in a peaceful and intellectual manner. I’ve taken a few deep breathes, run this story over in my mind again and again and yet still return to the same annoying factor: Why does ‘gay’ automatically equate to sex or “of a sexual nature” and carry with it such negative and deviant overtones.

The recent furor over one Mr Richard Gaywood having his gamertag revoked because it went against the Xbox Live Code of Conduct has kicked forth a flurry of questions we as paying members of the service really need to consider. Not least of all for me, as a gay gamer, is Microsoft’s backwards approach in assuming ‘gay’ to be “of a sexual nature”.

Over at Kotaku they contacted MS regarding the revocation of Richard Gaywood’s gamertag (despite the fact that’s his name) and got a response from MS Spokesperson Stephen Toulouse. His response truly yanked my chain as a gay gamer paying them for a service – a service that apparently I’m some sexual deviant on. "We want the Xbox LIVE community to have the freedom to express themselves, but we also have a responsibility to create an inclusive, safe environment," – a safe environment for who one has to question.

When TheGayerGamer got a ban it was fair according to MS spokesman Stephen Toulouse because "Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature."

Content of a sexual nature? Let’s assume it isn’t Gamer or The he’s talking about, therefore the “Sexual content” must be Gayer. Are we truly so backward that a parent cannot explain that Gayer or Gay might refer to the person being gay? Or for those that couldn’t possibly stomach assaulting a child’s fragile mind with such information, to suggest it may also mean happy?

I can understand Microsoft are trying to protect users, but perhaps there needs to be some tabled debate as to what they’re protecting whom from and what they’re perpetuating in the process. Linking ‘gay’ to some negative or sexually explicit content merely fans the fires of homophobia.

The excuse that perhaps someone with ‘gay’ in their gamertag may get abuse also holds no water because as a paying member of the service it should be your right to have a gamertag that speaks for you or about you in some way and provided that way is not harmful to others, then it should be alright. We’re not all stupid, we know the rampant homophobia that some Xbox Live members love to throw around; just as there are racists and sexists on there, should I not have ‘girl’ in my gamertag on the off-chance some sexist moron wants to let me know their opinion? No, because it should be a personal choice. I’m not suggesting gamertags like Fuck You ‘insert racial or other labeling slur here’ should be allowed, but what I am suggesting is that ‘gay’ is not a harmful word and should therefore not be categorized in the same way vulgar swears and other ‘offensive’ words are. Apparently MS don’t agree and one has to question why that is.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has occurred either. Back in 2006 a gamer in City of Heroes was told to change his name as it was seen as ‘vulgar and offensive’, the name in question? The Gay Avenger. There was also the furor over the LGBT mentions in World of Warcraft in 2006 when Blizzard expelled a player for trying to make a gay friendly guild.

It does not take a genius to work out what all of this negative affiliation does, not only for the language itself, but for the rebound effects that language has on gay people in society as a whole. The more we accept people using gay in a derogatory manner such as “that’s so gay” to denote something is bad, sub-par, stupid or unworthy, the longer the hatred will flourish. The more we sit back in blinkered silence as the word gay is linked time and again to something sexual, deviant or negative, the longer the hatred will fester.


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32 Responses to “MS XBL Gay equals sex? – Article”

  1. Zefbot says:

    I totally agree. Just as I absolutely detest how ‘gay’ is used as a derogatory word I also hate when it is automatically seen as ‘sexual’ as in the case of Xbox Live.
    Although Gaywood is simply a name, people don’t realise how homophobic they are when they think someone pronouncing themselves gay in some public manner equates to gays ‘flaunting it in our faces’. You will hear comments such as ‘I don’t want to know what you do in your bedroom’. Guess what? I don’t want to know what you do in yours either!

  2. Thefremen says:

    This is horrible. My blood is boiling right now. I seem to recall there being an org. that is somewhat like the Anti-Defamation league but for gays and dealing exlusively with entertainment. Can’t recall the name or website but I’ll forward along this story and the kotaku story when I do.

  3. Anon says:

    That would be:
    GLAAD – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

  4. Thefremen says:

    Thanks anon, it took me all of five seconds after I posted to think and realize “gay anti-defamation league….GLAAD!”.
    I sent them an incident report with links so hopefully they’ll be as ouraged as we are.

  5. Smoogles. says:

    Aww, that’s just ridiculous.
    I’ve had the ‘gay=sex’ thing too, many times.
    Usually it’s a load of straight guys, assuming that to be gay means that it’s all about who we have sex with, and that’s all, so if I just ignore the fact that this guy has something ugh, between his legs, then all I have to do is ignore it, and that means I’ll have sex with him. Because after all, we are all just reduced to what’s between our legs, and any woman is basically just a man without a penis.
    Grrr, idiots.
    This can lead into the whole thing about how we have to be masculinised to be able to compete on terms equal to men. Which is b**locks (pun not intended), and also why they poke fun at any woman who is strong in her own right, about facial hair and such.
    Sorry, I got all riled up then.

  6. Dana says:

    Worse yet, Microsoft gets a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
    My point isn’t to bash HRC (though I think they should take this into account for next year’s Index), but to point out how many variables go into a company’s “LGBT friendliness.”

  7. CleftQueer says:

    I did wonder if you’d be covering this here and was pleased when I saw you had, and in such a way as to be informative whilst remaining calm, bravo.
    Microsoft do need this examined and altered. It is preposterous this jackass from MS even uttered those words.
    Who is he appealing to with his ‘defense’ of someone seeing the word gay. Billy Bob republican and his backward posse, because I don’t see him ‘protecting’ anyone of sound and logical mind.
    Also his quip about users having freedom to express themselves is a crock. Freedom to express themselves provided they’re not gay, what next, Jews? African American’s? Women? The Aged?
    The entire thing is bigoted and Microsoft should be truly truly ashamed.

  8. lindabeth says:

    Great post….because clearly heterosexuals are multi-dimensional and being queer is just about particular sex acts.
    “a safe environment for who one has to question.”

  9. zombiepowder says:

    i think Xboxs policy is wrong.
    You cant use the word “lesbian” or “gay” on LIVE or even the forums.
    I was on the forums recently and a girl asked if there were any other gay gamers on live to play with.
    she was bombarded with posts, one was even about a guy telling two gay men making out in a park to stop. it became a big discussion about children and the LGBT community.
    this is the link if anyone wants to read:
    it deals with the SAME issues as we see here.

  10. zombiepowder says:

    I can see why they may block the word “gay” because i’ve been on loads of games where people use it as an inuslt and MS may have grounds there.
    but to block the word “lesbian” makes no sense. i’ve heard no one go. “thats soooo lesbian”

  11. CleftQueer says:

    Using the word gay as an insult should surely mean the opposite. To ban the word gives it more force to be used in an insulting manner. As I stated previously it is utterly preposterous Microsoft are going about this the way they are.
    Don’t people remember when we used to get called queer as an insult (perhaps you’re all too young). We took that word to be our own and now the power is taken away from it.
    We need to stand up and do the same for the word gay. Some lesbians prefer to use the word gay also to describe their sexuality.

  12. lopoo says:

    my personal protest!!! I will not buy anymore X360 games. In fact im gonna buy PS3 next week

  13. lopoo says:

    Soo if YOU are gay CAN YOU work for Microsoft? Yes or No ? Whay do U think?

  14. Mordoc says:

    what I want to know is why hasn’t anyone contacted a lawyer yet. It seems like that’s the only way to make people listen these days. BTW, check out what I found on the microsoft website.

  15. Tristen says:

    When I got my XBox 360 I wanted to use the word DYKE in my gammertag. It would not let me do it. Is Dyke sexual too ?? With all the VIOLENT & SEXIEST games out there, who is Microsoft trying to protect ?

  16. Pambi says:

    I’m not sure what all the drama is about. I can understand how a parent might want to shelter their child, but by letting them on 360 you expose them to an entirely new set of morals and threats. You go into a rough game and your libel to be called everything from asswhore to zebra-fucker, so simply seeing gay isn’t going to be a huge shock…

  17. angel winters says:

    quite frankly I can see how someone could see the name gaywood and think gay slur or just advertising…but then again…this is xbox live which if anyone hasn’t noticed has turned into myspace for gamers…in the good ways and the worst of ways…I say if your going to clean a server system of derogatory words…they will have to have more then just check screen names and check out the chats for a change.

  18. Wow, I’m glad that I decided to boycott Microsoft’s gaming consoles way back when the original XBox was released (Microsoft is EVIL, just look at Windows Vista)! I’m purely a Nintendo/Sony gamer these days (and occasionally on the PC), but being that I’m mostly old-school I don’t plan to buy a PS3 any time soon if ever. I’m still having too much fun on the PS 1&2, SNES, Sega Genesis, NES, GBA, and Atari 2600 not to mention my Wii…great old-school graphics, a fun/intuitive control scheme that literally breathes new life into boring older titles, AND a built-in emulator where you can download all of your favorite classic games at a reasonably low price and it’s also tailor-made for point-and-clickies like Zack & Wiki and Sam & Max, and strategy games like Star Trek: Conquest (which is very reminiscent of Star Control).

  19. gh0st says:

    Confused…if “gay” is not automatically “sexual” in nature, please enlighten me to the alternative definitions.
    To my very cold and logical mind, by definition, the term “gay” is by nature sexual (please don’t play silly symantic games like, “what about joyful??” as this is dishonest and we both know not the topic at hand).
    I am not a hater. Not by any measure. However, please try to be somewhat empathetic to my position. I am simply asking, “So, if ‘gay’ is not exclusively a sexual denotation, than what else is it?”
    I don’t want my kids asking about gamertags like HungLikeAHorse or ScreamerGrrl so why am I a hater for also not wanting the questions regarding ‘gay’ tags? If it is not entirely sexual in nature, than what is it?

  20. teh spikey says:

    I can see that you are trying to be rational, so I will try to respond in kind. However, please understand that this is a topic that is close to many people’s hearts here. To not respond with a knee-jerk angry reaction takes some self control, so please bear with me.
    How can “gay” not be sexual? Let me ask you a question in turn.
    Is “love” always sexual?
    Cannot people love each other with their being no sexual aspect? Can a -child- not love?
    Identifying as “gay” means so much more than sex, as does “love”. Saying “I am gay” does not simply mean “I have sex with…”, it identifies the people we LOVE. Among many other things. It is a complex word that portrays a wealth of emotions, situations, and lifestyles. Just as the word “love”.
    As for your children? If you can explain the concept of love, then you can explain the concept of gay. What is wrong with telling them that there are some people in the world who LOVE differently than what they might see every day?

  21. LeftofSender says:

    Well said Spikey.
    I would also say that it is the offensive nature MS has equated to the term, in similar fashion to HungLikeaHorse being mentioned, I don’t think that tag and GayGrrl for example hold the same negative connotation.
    F-ckedIntheAss for example IS offensive, whereas IamGay should not be. You don’t need to tell a child the sexual nature of the word gay [or any word], as the previous commenter posted, to suggest such a thing is ridiculous. If your 5 year old child comes home from school and asks what a dildo is (many straight couples use them), do you bluntly explain mommy straps it on and has sex with daddy because although he isn’t gay, he sometimes likes to be a taker? No, I wouldn’t imagine so.

  22. Faye says:

    I didn’t read all the comment responses here so I don’t know if this has been said: but what if someone’s gamertag was “StraightGuy” or “StraightGirl” – no one would say ‘oo that means they have sex with women/men all the time.’
    Double standards annoy me to no end.

  23. ocdcdadd says:

    I was just about to make the comment about putting “straight” in a gamertag and then saw Faye’s at the bottom.
    I think it’s quite the opposite. You don’t see people touting “straight” in their gamertag, and, frankly, I do think it would be considered “sexual” in certain contexts, including the two you provided.
    Obviously, “straight” has other definitions as well. I’d be fine with “TheStraightedge” or “StraightFive”. If it were clear to me that the gamer were labeling themselves as heterosexual then, yes, I would consider that sexual.
    Also, regarding LeftofSender’s comment, MS is not alone responsible for the term being considered offensive on XBL. The reason ANY offensive term is an issue at all is because XBL is used by lots of players the world over.
    I think you’d find that even if Microsoft okayed “gay”-mertags, there’d be plenty of XBL members that would be offended by it all the same.
    As for teh spikey’s comment- you’re completely removing the sexuality out of it when you explain it like that. I know you’re trying to argue that “gay” is not at all sexual but, as in your example, can’t a “gay” person love somebody that is opposite-gendered like a child does (or vice versa)? The love between two people in a serious relationship is sexual with or without actual sex.
    I am straight and I don’t think that sexuality boils down to who you’re having sex with. However, if you think the terms “straight” or “gay” aren’t sexual at all, that’s simply wrong. Gay or straight is your *sexual orientation*, or in other words, what you are naturally inclined to *sexually*.

  24. carora13 says:

    This is sad, especially hearing about it from a company that scored a 100% on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index the last four years in a row.

  25. Mattias Silva says:

    Hello it is at times like this that I feel ashamed for being a straight gamer, this is horrible, that is so wrong what microsoft is doing, seriously what are they thinking, how can it possibly be offensive to call yourself gay. i mean seriously its the year 2008 and we still have issues like this! Im hating microsoft so much right now. I hope that nintendo and sony shows more love for their gamers. I cant believe they scored a 100% on that equality index, its crazy, cant we do anything about this, like sending a complaint to microsoft or that HRC thing. PS: I love you lesbian gamers, you have so much humor and great articles keep up the good work =)

  26. mattias silva says:

    that other straight guy is so wrong, it would be great to be able to call yourself gay or lesbian in your gametag because that would help gaygamers meet other gaygamers on live, there should be a gaygaming channel or something because that way it would be easier for gaygamers to meet online. and they wouldn´t have to listen to stupid homophobes making stupid jokes about gay people, right, this guy doesn´t understand that as a straight person you mostly dont have to deal with this kind of descrimination, I have the right to call myself the straightguy, but gay people are not allowed to call themselves gay and that is wrong. If microsoft says that gay is a sexual word, then straight is equally sexual and should also be banned. Shame on you microsoft for hating so much on your loyal and devoted gamers =(

  27. Grant says:

    “The more we accept people using gay in a derogatory manner such as “that’s so gay” to denote something is bad, sub-par, stupid or unworthy, the longer the hatred will flourish.”
    That’s a bit backward, isn’t it? The whole point of banning the word gay from name filters is that online games are swarming with kids who will use the word in its derogatory, schoolyard sense. Filtering the word is a vain attempt to prevent people from using gay in a derogatory manner, and it’s this attempt that has led to the banning of the word in its other two senses – and the resulting message that ‘gay’ is obscene.
    I think we all need to accept that English words having multiple meanings. It’s part of the nature of the language. A lot of old and conservative people were upset when ‘gay’ was co-opted to refer to sexual orientation instead of happiness; but they couldn’t stop it from being co-opted, and neither can you. Gay means happy, lame, and homosexual, depending on context, and rather than try in vain to eliminate one of those meanings, it would be more productive to decouple the ‘gay’ and ‘lame’ meanings from one another.
    As long as the ‘gay’ and ‘lame’ meanings are seen as synonymous, “that’s so gay!” will be regarded as hate speech, and ‘gay’ will be filtered in online games. When people use the phrase without any thought to its homophobic origins – as many do now – then it will be much easier to argue that the word ‘gay’ is like the word ‘screw’ – it can be used in a vulgar or derogatory fashion, but it makes no sense to filter it because it also refers to ordinary aspects of everyday life.

  28. hazelam says:

    it seems to me ms are just pandering to the lowest common denominator, far too many gamers it seems have backwards views when it comes to homosexuality.
    any time the issue comes up you get the usual hate mongering and the one that i find particularly annoying, that invariably start with “i’m not homophobic/against gays” “but why do you have to shove it down our throats that you’re gay”

    that by not being ashamed and hiding it like good little gays we’re shoving it in their face.

    you want to know how messed up the gamer community is?
    a link to the 3dtv review on n4g, look at the replies, i have never been more ashamed to call myself a gamer.

    it’s times like these i despair for humanity.
    in many ways the gaming community is forward thinking and open, but then in other ways it’s just so depressingly backwards.

  29. Hi Hazelam,

    you know we are not even going to click on the link, we’ve had trouble with ng4 before, but they don’t represent all gamers thankfully.

    The shoving it down throats is always going to be an issue because we constantly need to come out. I had to come out to my dentist this week when he referred to my ‘husband’ in a conversation. Is me stating I have a girlfriend and not a husband me shoving it down his throat, or merely representing who I am?

    Perhaps the assumption is unfair on his part as opposed to me correcting him?

    Thanks for the input and don’t let it get you down xxx

  30. hazelam says:

    because we’re not ashamed like they think we should be we’re shoving it in their faces?

    and as for the “what has sex got to do with gaming?” argument, how many articles go up on just about every website after a games show about booth babes and cosplayers?, invariably female with the skimpiest outfits.

    though for the first time i did see a booth boys article about the tgs this year, not of interest to me, or anybody else here i’d imagine, but it was nice to see some balance for once. :)

  31. Danny says:

    Okay this pisses me off to no end when this happens but I just wanted to mention one thing on what you said about Blizzard. I won’t argue that when that incident occurred I was more than a little unhappy with them but Blizzard is one of the better companies in my opinion based on the fact that recently their games have been more open to homosexuality which is a great thing in my opinion and shows that they’ve grown up.

  32. writer-jm says:

    Sorry, ignored the MS indignation because I was remembering the alleged Warcraft incident.

    From the screenshots I’ve seen, the guild was purposefully trying to be provocative and disrespectful. If they had not been using vulgar sexual term and having virtual orgies in public zones… they might still exist. I was very disappointed in their behavior after wanting to support their cause.

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