GLAAD Announces Project to Combat Homophobia In Virtual Communities

Today, GLAAD formally announced our Project on Homophobia & Virtual Communities.  We also announced we'll be holding an exciting and FREE panel to discuss the issue on July 18th, in the San Francisco Bay area (RSVP here).

From the release:

As part of this project, GLAAD will focus on a range of virtual communities including networked PC games, social networks, online gaming and virtual worlds. The project will also address policies related to commenting features on blogs, Web sites and message boards.

GLAAD will work to ensure such communities remain committed to:
  • Providing safe spaces for LGBT people to connect
  • Enact the best policies to prevent anti-LGBT defamation
  • Educate users of these communities about the effects of homophobia.

And also:

GLAAD will also be convening a groundbreaking panel discussion in Silicon Valley on July 18, 2009, that will spotlight the issue of homophobia in virtual communities and include the perspectives of both gaming companies and LGBT gamers. Confirmed panelists include representatives from XBox Live, Electronic Arts, Inc., Linden Lab, the Entertainment Software Association, and GayGamer.net. For more information on the panel event and to RSVP, please visit: www.glaad.org/digitalevent.

Rashad Robinson, GLAAD's Senior Director of Media Programs, from the release:

As more and more people turn to virtual communities to connect with each other and for entertainment, we need to ensure these spaces are LGBT-inclusive and safe for our community – right now that’s not always the case.  Our new project and work with leading tech companies aims to both educate users on the impact of homophobic remarks and put sustainable policies in place that make the experience fun and inclusive for everyone.

As GLAAD's Director of Digital Media, I'll be heading up the project and moderating the upcoming panel.

As I said in the release:

In most cases, the policies devised by these companies were done so to stop defamation from happening – to protect LGBT people. For instance, by banning the use of the word ‘gay,’ the companies were preventing people from using it as a slur. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this is the creation of a virtual closet, where LGBT people cannot live, game, or interact openly.

Our aim here is to work with all the players – including companies, gamers, journalists, and community moderators – to develop sustainable policy solutions that address the rampant homophobia, provide safe spaces for LGBT people, and make the experience fun for all.

You can read the full release for more information.

If you'd like to provide questions or feedback, please feel free to email me at cole@glaad.org or via GLAAD's Twitter feed @GLAAD.  And if you'd like to attend the groundbreaking and FREE panel, please visit: www.glaad.org/digitalevent.