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Putting a little bit of good in this world

June 12, 2012

(I realize I should go back and complete the Boston saga. I will, eventually)

Among my many hobbies, I’m one of the top staff member of a major online fansite (“major” as in one of the most popular video gaming fansites in the world per Alexa rankings, imperfect as they are). Like the vast majority of fansites, it has its own forums, and, like the vast majority of forums, that forum allows for discussion of off-topic subjects, such as social and political issues, including, of course, gay rights and gay discrimination.

In the past, like most fan sites in the world, we used to treat discussion of homosexuality as a political debate. We allowed conservatives and liberals to state their views on the matter, so long as they did so without personal attacks. We felt that this was fair; that both side got to argue their view, and give their reasonings.

It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right.

At the end of the day, homosexuality is people. It’s what they are (or an inalienable part of it). Homosexuality, to teenagers and young adults, means beginning to realize you’re “different”, with all that it entails. Homosexuality, to them, far too often means living afraid of anyone else finding out who they are; afraid that if anyone find out, they will get shunned, mocked, beaten. In some cases, afraid for their lives even. Homosexuality is about fearing you will lose your family, or have already lost it, over finding out who you are. Homosexuality often mean not daring to go to school anymore, because of how you will betreated there. Too often, it means suicide.

Homosexuality, on fansites, means coming online to enjoy your favorite entertainment, only find that even here, on a website dedicated to the shows they watch, the games they play, they can’t escape the hatred, the mockery, and, especially the condemntation. That even here they can’t escape being told they don’t deserve equal rights. That even here, the word that define them is used as an insult, to the point that many fansites actually censor the term: that “gay” come out as “***”.

Is it politics to say that those fans deserve to enjoy the site as much as any other fan? Is it politics to say that people won’t enjoy the site as much if a fundamental part of who they are get called immoral or a disease? No. There’s nothing political about either of these. It’s simple empathy, and common sense.

But what about going out of your way, on a fansite, to hound teenagers who are struggling with who they are to tell them they are going to hell; that they shouldn’t be able to marry; that they suffer from a disease?  That’s not about being who you are, it’s not about trying to live your life – it’s about trying to tell others who they have a right to be, and how they should live their lives. That is politics. Letting it happen is politics.

At the end of the day, choosing between these two sides isn’t playing politics. Obama will win, or Romney will win. Harper will get another majority, or he won’t. Gay marriage will be legalized, or it won’t. There’s precious little we, as a fansite, could do to influence these issues, so no point in us taking a side one way or another.

What we can do, is put a little bit more good in their world. Not much. Maybe, perhaps probably, not enough.

But still more than there was yesterday. That alone is worth it.

(This is largely an edited version of the editorial I wrote to explain the change on the fansite in question. I felt like it deserved reposting)

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