So my previous post got linked on WoW.com a couple days ago. Due to a linking mixup it happened a bit too late to get noticed in the initial read-through– fortunately or un- depending on your position I suppose– and I missed pretty much all the traffic from their entry. I mention 'unfortunately' because it spawned an epic discussion of nearly five hundred comments, the overwhelming majority of them going about how I expected it to when I saw the entry show up on their site, and it might have been a blessing that most of that didn't end up here. This isn't the first time this topic has come along and I give kudos to Mike Schramm for bringing it up again in the first place when he had prior experience of what would happen. To be fair for every homophobic asshat there were three people explaining why they were homophobic asshats, but that thread does serve as an excellent example of the environment GLAAD wants to wade into with their new initiative against homophobia and it's also an excellent example of why I still feel that they're getting in a bit over their heads.
Having seen these discussions several times by now, I realized that complaining generally tends to organize itself under a couple of clear groups, all of which I will attempt to refute now for the benefit of GLAAD or anyone else who is drawing up strategy for this sort of thing:
1. I don't want real world politics in my video game.
Of all comments I can understand and identify with this one quite readily. In what is supposed to be an immersive environment like World of Warcraft, with rich backstory and lore, some players don't want that invaded with real world political issues– or any reference to the real world at all. I totally understand that, and I totally understand the desire for escapism. Unfortunately in practice it just doesn't work out; even on the servers specifically designated "roleplaying," where such activity is supposed to be actively moderated to ensure players stick to in-character chat only, there are no moderators and there is no roleplaying. Practically, while some players don't want their immersion ruined, most are ambivalent towards it (or actively hostile to the concept), and references to reality run crazy. Even Blizzard themselves rebuke this on their own within WoW and pop-culture references are everywhere from quest names to item drops to NPC characters. And when you add in the fact that the people complaining about politics in their games are probably the ones standing in general chat making Chuck Norris jokes, this complaint falls a little flat. It's a bit weak to complain you don't want politics in a video game and bristle at being told to be sensitive to the feelings of others when you utilize derogatory remarks that don't exist in that game universe either, reference real-world minorities who do not appreciate it largely, and didn't force you to use that particular phraseology to begin with.
2. What does you being gay have to do with Azeroth?
Similar to the point above, I can understand this, but only when it's applied both ways. Inherently, no, my sexuality has nothing to do with my character or my ability to play the game. However, in my experience with those utilizing this complaint, it seems to be specifically resigned to stuff they don't want to be exposed to. These people generally will have no qualms sharing their favorite sports team, color, location where they live in real life, age, real life relationship status, what they're watching on television or any other manner of things that have no relevance to the game and aren't needed to be shared to play your character most effectively. It is disingenuous to demand certain things not be mentioned from the real world when unconcerned with others, and it's a rare example of someone who will actually apply this stance all around.
3. Why do gay people keep flaunting their sexuality/forcing it down my throat?
Why do straight people keep mentioning their girlfriends or wives or how hot they think the Night Elf dance is? This is such a ridiculous double standard that I really have a difficult time even giving it a response. Any given hour of play with anyone in game is likely to inspire a multitude of "heterosexual flaunting" from even a demure reference to a significant other or exclamations about how badly someone wants to accost a character or game model. The guys (because it's usually guys) who use this line are probably going to be the biggest propagators of the latter kind. Double standard is the operative phrasing here, because that's what this is. This also ties into the common misconception that being gay is simply about diminishing one's identity to a simple sexual act, which is no more valid than insisting heterosexual identity is nothing more than what orifice you utilize in bed.
4. ZOMG FREE SPEECH, CENSORSHIP, FREE COUNTRY, THOUGHT POLICE!!!11
Really? Nothing on the internet makes me fly into such a rage as this. While the first amendment is a value enshrined in our constitution and a hallmark of Western civilization, it still only applies to government restriction of commentary. A private company like Blizzard is well within their rights to decide what can and cannot be transmitted across their servers and, in fact, they already have. This is not a new concept, so I don't understand why people trot out the "I THOUGHT THIS WAS AMERICA!" whenever anyone dares to utter a complaint about abusive speech. A 4b to this would the protestations that this sort of thing is demanding a special class with special privileges that for whatever reason straight people lack off the bat already.
It's shameful enough that being gay is a thing that can get you harassed, fired and killed in some parts of the US (much less the world), and it's deplorable that some would have that extended to an environment that is meant to be a method of entertainment and pleasure. Demanding that gay players keep it to themselves or they're "asking" for torment is little different to making the same demand in the real world, and in both places that mentality needs to be fought against. Gay players should not fear that "coming out" is going to make them a target of animosity; they should be able to mention their boyfriends or girlfriends with the same frequency as straight players mention theirs, and everyone should be allowed to bring up their favorite sports or color or television show, et cetera and onward. And without any sort of defense or disincentive against the majority to protect the minority that lacks power, these protections will not happen. This is why they are necessary, that is why there is no special class with special privileges, and this is why groups doing this sort of work and awareness-raising are a positive thing overall.
A final wrap up for the class: being gay is not a choice, wanting tolerance does not mean one is required to tolerate intolerant bigotry, and stop crying "oh the political correctness police!" when someone asks you to quit calling them a fag.