Don't Ask, Don't Tell comes to gaming

Sorry, Microsoft’s Xbox Has a ‘No Lesbians Allowed’ Policy


You know what Microsoft’s Xbox Live does not consider offensive enough to ban? Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, where players steal, harass other characters, beat on prostitutes, and shoot to kill. And Resident Evil 4, where players encounter a dead female corpose pinned against the wall with a pitchfork through her face in the first few minutes of game play. And NARC, where players smoke pot, roll on ectasty, and get high on LSD to make their characters stronger. And 50 Cent: Bulletproof, where players take part in drive-bys and gang warfare to buy new music videos. But you know what Xbox Live does deem too offensive? Identifying yourself as a lesbian in your player profile.


In 2007 we told you about a player who got virtually gay bashed (video) playing Xbox’s Halo 3 for having the screenname “xxxGayBoyxxx.” Another Xbox player reported being forced to change his account name from something other than “thegayergamer,” since, according to a supervisor the player spoke to, the Xbox “community” thought the moniker was too offensive. Even a guy named “Richard Gaywood” had to change his screenname.

And now another player says she was banned from Xbox for acknowledging she was a lesbian — after users complained. She writes Consumerist:

I just recently saw a thing on your site about someones gamer tag being banned because it had the word gay in the tag.

I had a similar incident, only my account was suspended because I had said in my profile that I was a lesbian. I was harassed by several players, ‘chased’ to different maps/games to get away from their harassment. They followed me into the games and told all the other players to turn me in because they didn’t want to see that crap or their kids to see that crap.

As if xbox live is really appropriate for kids anyways! My account was suspended and xbox live did nothing to solve this, but instead said others found it offensive.

Today I received a message from another gamer calling me a fag. I am a lesbian, so they aren’t too smart if they cant get their anti-gay slurs right.

Microsoft does nothing to stop this or prevent it, but instead sides with the homophobes. No one will help me get the word out about Microsoft’s anti-gay policy. Not even the HRC who says Microsoft has a positive image with them. Not to me it doesn’t!

It’s worth noting that Microsoft doesn’t ban the words “gay” or “lesbian” as a matter of policy; that is, you can type those strings of characters in Xbox games without immediately being banned or censored. Doing so is, I think, a good thing — though a video game community of homophobes probably means the words “gay” and “fag” are used more often as slurs than anything else. And when someone flags a user for being too “gay,” Microsoft’s wrath follows.

But Microsoft’s position to cave to the Xbox “community,” rather than defend its paying customers from harassment, is hateful. While it’s unrealistic to think all gamers can be protected from being taunted while playing, the company should have some method of protecting those who alert it to harassment. Instead, they blame the victims, and ban them. Despicable.

[Video game descriptions via Gamespot]

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  • getreal

    I say not another gay or gay positive dollar should be spent on X-box till they issue a big fat apology! Even then I guess my nephews will be getting something else on their B-days!

  • anyankafan

    :) use playstation anyway. yay

  • Aaron

    Guess that’s why I have a Wii!

  • vernonvanderbilt

    I’ve heard of issues like this arising before, so it vexes me that it continues to go on. The gamer community is a strange beast. Sometimes, it can be incredibly accepting of differences, and other times it seems to be one of the most homophobic social groups around, albeit of the juvenile variety. The true shame is that a company that is supposedly a supporter of the GLBT community would rather bend over for bigotry than defend the rights of all its paying customers. Guess I won’t be purchasing that 360 anytime soon, Left 4 Dead or not.

    Which sucks, because I love me some zombies and I don’t care for the Resident Evil games.

  • Jack

    On one hand, the blatant discrimination appalls me. On the other, I wonder…can’t we just play a game without turning it into a political issue? Teenagers are executed in Iran for expressing their sexuality; teenagers in the West think they have it hard if they’re told they can’t use the word ‘gay’ in their screen-name…

  • John in CA

    I guess Microsoft has finally decided to come out of the closet as a right-wing company. This isn’t really surprising though. If you look at Microsoft’s political history, the writing has been on the wall for a while now.

    Remember when Microsoft withdrew its support for ENDA after some pastors in Washington State sent them letters threatening a boycott?

    Or Bill Gates’ infamous anti-trust feud with Janet Reno and the Clinton Administration?

    Or the over two million the company sent to Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004?

    Or the hiring of fundamentalist whackjob Ralph Reed as a “public relations consultant”?

    I, for one, am glad I switched over to a Mac a few years ago. Donations from Steve Jobs ($100,000), as well as Al and Tipper Gore ($50,000), to fight Prop. 8 has only made me an even more loyal Apple customer. Besides, Microsoft’s Vista operating system is basically crap.

  • JH


    Just get L4D for the PC instead. At least then you get continual updates, extras and user-created maps. Oh, and a more mature community to play with.

  • Fred Walker

    Playstation 3 + Final Fantasy 13 for me

  • bob

    This has nothing to do with being gay, it is about sexuality in general. If your name was HeteroMcGee it would get banned as well (if it was reported)

    I’m all for equal rights, but this really is a non-issue

  • Sebbe

    Gays play video games still? That said, I have no personally experience with it but I always assumed the sci-fi community was rather accepting of lgbt. The problem here is Microsoft, which is inherently evil and right wing to begin with. Here is the first steps everyone should be taking:

    1. Switch from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox (everyone should be doing this regardless).

    2. Consider for your next computer one that uses either Linux or MAC as the operating system (everyone should be doing this as well).

    3. Replace Windows Media Player with Itunes, VLC player, or DivX Player (again, WMP sucks and there is no reason to use it.)

    4. Replace Microsoft’s disk defrager with Disk Defrag (its much quicker and efficient).

    5. Stop using outlook and hotmail and switch to GMAIL. Mozilla’s thunderbird is a nice alternative if you are using Outlook. Google docs has also come a long way.

    6. Stop playing video games, there are much better things you could be doing with your time, like reading great blogs, reading a book, out socializing with people, drinking and exercising.


  • Ano Nymous

    To label Microsoft as a homophobic or a right-wing conservative company is ridiculous. In fact, it’s downright shameful. You didn’t get what you wanted, so Microsoft MUST be persecuting you. Such immaturity. The gay community should be ashamed of you.

    There is nothing that says you can’t play games on XBox live if you’re gay. You weren’t asked if you were gay when you signed up, so you are not being singled out.

    Fact of the matter is, your sexual orientation should have nothing to do with the games you’re playing online, yet when people sign up with gamertags like xxxGayBoyxxx and theGAYERgamer they’re shoving their sexual orientation pride into people’s faces, people who likely don’t care to know that you’re gay, or would rather not know. They care about how good of a gamer you are, but such gamertags immediately bring sexual orientation into the mix, and in this mix, they simply do not belong.

    Additionally, everyone on XBox live is just a number and a clever screen name anyway. Under this cloak of anonymity, they are unafraid of voicing their deep down opinions because the real life consequences would be minimal, if anything substantial. A 1 day suspension of your account? Whoop-dee-do. Heck, maybe they’re not homophobes. Maybe they’re just trolls looking to harass you because they can, and your reactions will entertain them.

    Finally, as long as you proudly express your sexual orientation, you will entertain adversity. No authority with their hands full of work to do would even care to entertain your complaint, because frankly, you brought it on yourself. If you paint a bullseye on your chest, don’t be surprised if someone takes aim.

  • Sebbe

    @Ano Nymous – For me personally I’m just anti-Microsoft in all instances. I don’t really know much or care to about these children’s games, but it does seem they are employing a DODT policy. Aren’t some of these games similar to second life or sims where people interact with one another?

  • Ano Nymous


    DODT? Is that similar to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

    To my knowledge, there are no games on XBox live akin to Sims or Second Life. Granted, there are numerous games available for play on XBox live, but most of them are of the Us vs Them, Me vs You variety.

    There are countless different games to play competitively on XBox live. I personally play Left 4 Dead, and Gears of War 2 online, definitely not childrens games despite the alarming number of children I play against.

    From a business standpoint, Microsoft has to examine all the pieces of the puzzle. One user in particular is identifying themselves as homosexual, either in their gamertag or their gamer profile. In turn, twenty people (hypothetically) who pay for the service just as this gay gamer does complain that their gamertag/profile is offensive. There’s no win-win situation here, someone will not get their way. Do you upset the one paying customer, or the twenty?

    From a business standpoint, Microsoft made the right decision. Homosexuality is not completely tolerated amongst the general public yet, it would seem. Many small minded individuals still are offended by the notion that some boys kiss boys, and some girls kiss girls.

    Bottom line is, someone’s had their ego hurt. They feel they’ve been unjustly treated. But even if they were unjustly treated, what has been lost here? Really, at the end of the day is someone going to have their life completely changed because of a suspension on XBox live?

    Priorities: This is not one of them.

  • Sebbe

    yes DADT – my typo.

    I don’t know much about these games and think once you are past 16 they are quite stupid. But, what happens if someone identifies their race or religion in their profile and someone complains? Just wondering?

  • Ano Nymous


    I suspect what would happen is said person may get verbally harassed by racist or anti-theologist perople. Nothing preventative can be done about that, only reactive. If said people were to complain to Microsoft about such information being in a player’s profile, they may get told that nothing offensive or inappropriate was found.

    Evidently homosexuality is still a gray area.

    I don’t agree with Microsoft’s decision on a moral level, but from a business level I can understand why they would have made it. From a practical level, I ask ‘why is it such a big deal to identify oneself as homosexual in their gamer profile? That has no bearing whatsoever on the games being played.’ And from my perspective as a gamer, I say ‘Less QQ, more pew pew.’ (Quit crying, pick up your gun and keep firing.)

  • Sebbe

    Well maybe Microsoft will learn that their corporate culture does play into their business plans eventually. As one of the largest business on the planet I hope they will continue to improve upn and to be a responsible corporate citizen (that goes in all areas not just LGBT rights/benefits). They have improved their HRC CEI score in just the last few years to now be one of the companies rated at 100%.

  • vernonvanderbilt

    @JH: You have a point there. It totally slipped my mind that it was available on PC. I don’t generally like playing action games on the computer, but this game looks awesome enough to warrant an exception to that rule.

  • Aaron

    @Sebbe: I read all the time, go jogging, hangout with friends, etc… and still have time to play a couple hours of video games a week.

  • TylerOakley

    Another reason I love Nintendo.

  • Slovic

    You guys are all over reacting. This has nothing to do with a policy of instituted homophobia and all to do with a policy to PREVENT homophobia. Why is it necessary to label yourself as LBGT on a video game? Nobody cares what your sexuality is. By nobody, I mean most of us. The only people you are then attracting to yourself are the homophobic people who are, of course, outraged by your presence. Would you be offended at the name “TotallyNotGay” on XBL? What about “StraighterThanGays”? Neither are offensive, but could be construed as such by gay people and straight people alike. Should these names be allowed? No. Why should the name “xxxxGayBoyxxxx” or “TheGayerGamer” be allowed when those names would incite the polar opposite feelings in some?

    This whole idea of gay people boycotting is rediculous. If you want to announce your sexuality, do it to people who care. Xbox is not a political forum. Nobody on the system wants to hear about your religion, your politics or your sexuality.

  • Dean


  • john

    You can get banned for putting “heterosexual” in your profile. Typical, always playing the victim without all the facts.

  • John in CA

    @Sebbe: Well, I think you’re right about the “culture” at Microsoft. But, of course, it isn’t just Microsoft. And it has little to do with this ridiculously minor issue of the video games.

    The mindset of corporate conservatism isn’t significantly different from that of religious conservatism. And the justification for bad behavior usually goes something like this:

    Corporations (Churches) can do no wrong. They are immune from any responsibility or criticism for their patently political activities because it is a “business decision” (“God’s will”). And anyone who suggests otherwise are “whiners” and “troublemakers.”

  • Justin Cole

    My name is Justin Cole and I’m the Director of Digital & Online Media at GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

    I’ve been in constructive discussions with Microsoft since the beginning of this year with regards to their gamertag and other XBox Live policies.

    I have a post up about it here –

    Please check it out.

  • Berry

    The GLAAD post is interesting have gives some context, but it doesn’t reassure me that Microsoft or Sony are really addressing this issue. Playing nice with GLAAD doesn’t make closeting Xbox users any better. If Microsoft is so concerned about protecting us, why didn’t they address the harassment reported by the lesbian user?

    Thanks for posting this queerty.

  • Justin Cole

    Berry – The Consumerist didn’t give Microsoft any information about the woman who submitted a letter to them. Without info and/or a gamertag they can’t look anything up in their system and therefore have no idea what the circumstances of the case are.

  • kyle patrick

    this is pathetic. being out of the closet does not mean you need to choose “gamer tags” that alert everyone to your homosexuality. nor do you need to put it in your profile. I am a proud and happy homosexual, but I do not define myself with it. it is an aspect of who I am, not the only and absolute detail.

  • Sebbe

    @kyle patrick – I agree of some of what you said. I also only consider my gayness one part of me. I just question whether I am justified in telling someone else that it is not the most important thing in their life and what to choose for their name.

  • Josh

    @Sebbe: If that name incites hatred, isn’t it better to deny all hate-inspiring names?

  • kyle patrick

    let me clarify a touch. I think that xbox live management is completely off base denying “gay” names. but identifying yourself as homosexual and suffering verbal abuse in an online situation is reality. microsoft should not have suspended her account obviously, but calling for microsoft to police bigots responding to public information is childish. we all know that not everyone is accepting of our truth folks. demanding online policing may be a momentary satiation, but it fails to acknowledge that real progress is made when we affect change and achieve tolerance from everyone. a slap on the wrist from the man via xbox does not promote acceptance, and given our place in society, that should be our primary goal.

  • Sebbe

    You make a good point and to be honest I am not sure. Where does it stop, who decides what is offensive, what is used to determine what incites the hatred online. What if someone hates your name? Your sex? You age? Like I said you have made very valid points, I am not an expert on this and have never used a gaming system since I was in high school. But, you’ve given me something to think about.

  • Pau

    Oh come on!! This so unfair. Microsoft says that “indicate your sexual tendency is ofensive” Why then I see all the time people with nickname likes “Thestraight” and they are not banned? Can Microsoft tell me how many heterosexual player had been banned please? Lets face it, This is just B.S. Also for example use the word “jew” is not allowed in your profile but guess what they dont banned your account they send you a message.

  • Harukami

    @Jack: can’t we just play a game without turning it into a political issue?

    Not if they ban you from playing.

  • Link

    So… check it out guys. I’m not entirely sure how keen everyone is on the actual world of x-box live and how many gamers are actually posting in this as opposed to non-gamers who read the article.

    But, to my knowledge, you can be reported for having an offensive slogan/bio/gamertag and it doesn’t even have to be offensive. If enough people report you then Microsoft takes action, doing very little investigation, it’s mostly a knee jerk and automated response. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody behind a computer terminal basically has the following instructions “Once someone reaches 5 reports about their tag you make them change their gamertag, once someone recieves 10 complaints, you ban them from live, etc.” Like… I doubt it goes much deeper than that honestly.

    There are gamertags for just about everything out there, and honestly, maybe I’m being a dick here or whatever, but… in a “hostile” trash talking community where people Crotch over dead bodies to “tea bag” them in Halo 3 or whatever FPS flavor of the month you’re playing online, the last thing you should ever do is draw attention to yourself. It’s like the infamous scene in Die Hard with the “I hate ers.” sign on you in the middle of Harlem. You’re just asking to get messed with (yes, I realized in this case you’re the one being attacked and you’re not provoking them, but still, you’re painting a target on yourself for harassment.) Also, let’s keep in mind that the “core” community of x-box live are boys, many of them YOUNG boys in their teens, who throw around the term “gay” as a slur/insult and/or when they die say “Man that was gay.” or “Hey man, stop being gay and put down the Plasma Sword.” or whatever. Then you walk into a game with a tag that says “xxxGayerGamerxxx” and you expect to NOT be harassed by young punks? Please. Grow some common sense. This is NOT the world we live in, and the Internet is full of anonymity and hateful bullcrap, and x-box live is no exception, they can’t police what people say or do.

    Also, as for the whole lesbian thing. Once again, you’re dealing with young male teens. I’m surprised people even complained, I’m sure out of the few complaints most of the harassment were guys asking her if she was hot and then asking all these obscene inappropriate questions. The LAST thing I’d ever do, if I were a girl, is to walk into a crowd of horny young men in the middle of puberty and shout “HEY GUYS! I’M A LESBIAN!” that’s just asking for hours upon hours of idiots pestering you and idiotic questions.

    Sure, it might be… iunno… a step in the far back direction, but in the dangerous world of x-box live and anonymity you’re better off just not standing out or making some sort of statement about yourself. It’s only going to cause you grief in the end.

    – Link

  • Michael vdB

    Well said Link.

  • BrianZ

    As someone who has been an Xbox Live member since it was birthed into beta testing I am highly amused by the discussion.

    First of all (Sebbe) people who want to blast Microsoft as being anti-gay need to do their homework. Microsoft has been honored many times across the country for their work to foster diverse, inclusive and respectful working environments. Check HRC’s report for 2009 here . Just because you happen to have an anti-Microsoft agenda (as displayed in your post Sebbe) doesn’t mean that they anti-gay.

    The Xbox Live community is, by and large, self-policing. If a large number of other subscribers find your gamertag, profile or behavior inappropriate and report you … well guess what, you’re going to be reprimanded. It’s more a commentary on our society than Microsofts policy. Don’t like that we live in an ignorant, sexually-repressed, religion-obsessed society? Stop playing Xbox Live and move.

    Personally, I don’t really give a rats ass if you are gay or straight, bigot or not, on Xbox Live. I don’t want to hear any bullshit other than trash talking about the game play. If you step out of line, you get reported, you get reprimanded.

    As to using the word “gay” in a gamertag: How does Microsoft or their employees know you really are queer? How can they be expected to enforce a policy of “You can’t use queer unless you ARE queer!” Honestly, stop and think about it. Wouldn’t the mean spirited buttwad who wanted to register “GayBashin” be just as likely to lie so he could keep his offensive name? Of course he would. So, they keep it easy the policy is what it is.

  • BrianZ

    @Sebbe: Oh and by the way “6. Stop playing video games, there are much better things you could be doing with your time, like reading great blogs, reading a book, out socializing with people, drinking and exercising.” makes you a bigot, by the way, in case you didn’t know.

    And as a side note, MAC is a line of cosmetics, not a friggin operating system.

    And at the root of it all, who the hell are you to decide that “everyone should be doing this regardless” ? I hate the blow-hard, know it all bigots on the right, and have just as must disdain for them on the left. Does it make you feel good to tell others how to live their lives? If so you can just go ahead and stop being gay now and sign up for a McClurkin concert. Cheers indeed.

  • Sebbe

    @BrianZ – First of all STFU, second if you read all my post I was asking several questions to gain a better understanding of the situation which I admited I was unaware of.

    I also acknowledged their corporate standing and ranking with the HRC CEI index and was complaining about their corporate practices in general (again read all the posts).

    My comment about what everyone should be doing regardless was taken out of context and was in discussion of IE and Firefox. The evidence shows many, many agree if you look at how much market share Microsoft has lost and continues to. A lot of people are still unaware they have a choice (believe it or not) and once they try an alternative browser are usually satisfied and don’t go back (again the evidence shows).

    McClurkin – I’m not sure who that is, is that the really old guy who caused the stir with Obama, he is old and ex-gay or something?

    So again, hope you have a nice weekend in front of your video games, while the rest of the attractive world is out enjoying life and socializing with mankind.

    I am still curious what is the policy in regards to other identifiers like italian, spanish, irish, female, male, white, black, Asian, what is Microsoft’s policies in regards to that? Brian maybe you know I assume and could possibly answer instead of attacking me DIRECTLY and enlighten us.

    ** I am typing on a mobile device and apologize if there are any grammar or spelling mistakes in advance.**

  • ADJ

    Sebbe: what exactly was taken out of context when you stated that people should be taking steps to switch programs from this to that and then follow it up by saying “Stop playing video games, there are much better things you could be doing with your time, like reading great blogs, reading a book, out socializing with people, drinking and exercising” taking out of context?

    For the record, I am gay. Also, I have been an avid gamer since I could manipuate an Atari 2600 controller. I also look forward to Wednesday every week so I can read the latest comic books and watch a lot of cartoons. I don’t appreciate anybody telling me what is acceptable behavior just like you probably don’t appreicate being told to stop going out to the bars and clubs where you drink heavily and whoring around for example.

    You openly admit that you don’t play or have experience with video games and have no idea what goes on in our nerdy community. I suggest you do some research before you start telling me and my fellow gamers, nerds, dorks, and geeks how to act or simply shut up.

    It is a shame that you are so willing to pass a sweeping judgement on a group of people you don’t have any knowledge about but feel entitled to tell us how to act. Does this line sound familiar to you because it is the same one your probably think and say everytime a gay or lesbian is unfairly treated? You want to live your way one way, great. I want to live mine in a different way because I know what I enjoy in my life. And more importantly, I don’t want to be anything like small minded people like you who think they know what is best for me.

  • Sebbe

    um, good for you, I’m actually in a taxi on my way out to pick up my “nerdy” MIT bf, so ill keep it short. To each his own, have a blast tonight man. I didn’t ask anyone to shut up besides you when you attacked me. I was having a fine conversation learning a lot about it from the other posters until I apparently hit a “soft spot” with you. Well that has more to do with you and your apparent inadequacy than me. So I wish you the best. Have a nice evening and weekend. Good night.

    Cheers – S

  • BrianZ

    @Sebbe: Attractive? There isn’t anything attractive about being a judgemental, ignorant, or narcasistic. You seem to hold your life up as THE gold standard that the rest of us should be striving towards. I’m glad you hold yourself in such high esteem but you come off as shallow and insecure. Really.

    I do generally refrain from attacking people, but you have a history on this web site of targeting things and people that you don’t understand or don’t agree with.

    Your follow-up posts were after you were called out by another posters, not as if you had some serious self-awareness moment. You were called out on your ignorance, you didn’t come to the table to discuss what you didn’t know: You came talking out your ass about things you knew nothing about (gamers and Microsoft) and telling the rest of us what we should be doing. None of your follow-up posts hide the fact that your default position is to make up the facts to fit the way you want to view the world.

    If no one had taken the time to call you out where would you be? Still ignorant of your own ignorance.

  • Sebbe

    I am on my way out and I am not going to get into a pissing contest with you. I do not feel it would be acceptable or appropriate to re-post examples of your own bigotry and attacks on people (although a cursory scan of your posts would provide amble examples).

    So I will leave it here, since you are not going to change my mind and I am not going to change yours (nor do I wish to).

    Hope you got over Hillary loosing the nomination btw and are now supporting the Obama administration.

    Best of luck to you.

  • CGPO


    uh… dude…

    approximately 1,488 suicides per year are committed by homosexual youth who live in fear of “expressing their sexuality”

  • Charles J. Mueller


    Hear. Hear.

  • Replier to Bob

    @bob: So then what? Is X-Box Live Don’t ask; Don’t tell?

  • FairGamer


    If enough people report you then Microsoft takes action, doing very little investigation, it’s mostly a knee jerk and automated response. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody behind a computer terminal basically has the following instructions “Once someone reaches 5 reports about their tag you make them change their gamertag, once someone recieves 10 complaints, you ban them from live, etc.” Like… I doubt it goes much deeper than that honestly.


    Actually, that’s not accurate at all.
    From the personal blog of Stephen Toulouse (

    “For text and profile complaints we actually review every complaint against the Code of Conduct and Terms of Use to determine whether the complaint is accurate. We DO NOT take action based off the number of complaints, or how often people complain in a given day. All complaints we get into the system against a Gamertag or content are reduced to one so that our agents merely review the content against the terms of use. Whether it’s one complaint or 20, we will look at it the same way. That’s the metric we use and that we have publicly communicated that we use.”

    Now, I am a gamer and I am employed in the video game industry (no, not retail) and I can honestly say this situation is first off ridiculous on all points. You probably SHOULDN’T declare your sexuality in an online gaming service (for a multitude of reasons), but should you not be ALLOWED to? In my opinion, it is one’s own prerogative. Thank you Microsoft, but in the virtual world, I don’t need your censorship to protect me. Censoring “gay” and even “straight” does nothing for either side.

    What XBL has done is implement a primitive and “inelegant” policy under their ToU that effectively allows them to brush aside responsibility and accountability. How? By making their system complaint-based, they have ensured (albeit perhaps inadvertently) that complaints that come through will only be what the user community doesn’t deem appropriate. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that this is a lazy system. Granted when a complaint does come through, and I’m sure they do minute by minute, things must get hairy. However, come on people. When was the last time a gay or straight person complained about a gamertag/username like “StraightDude”? Who here is TRULY offended by that tag? The offended in the case of XBL are the conservative and otherwise unenlightened members of the online gaming community, basically 75+% of the users. So XBL will only receive authentic complaints about tags with “gay” in the name and any complaints about “straight” in the name happen, well, in times like these. When this information comes to light, people are quick to point out that the door swings both ways. Of course it does; now. MSFT is on their toes and on high alert to not look like a bunch of homo-hating, greedy, fat-cats.

    Now, I am not calling Mr. Toulouse or MSFT as a corporation homophobic. That is utterly absurd, I agree. Just look at Stephen Toulouse’s blog posting on this event back in May 2008, he has an entire paragraph dedicated to his personal views on LGBT rights. Trust me, the man is on our side. The PROBLEM is, this primitive policy allows for him to only quote from the ToU like a preacher quoting scripture when those that feel victimized present their plights.

    My main issue here is that no one seemed to see this coming. MSFT placed their policies, dusted off their hands and walked away. Then, when everything blew up in their faces, their only way out was to present an argument that, while it may be true, doesn’t exactly make everything okay. “Well, we’d ban/suspend them if they were straight as well”, okay, not exactly a good thing. Great for the homophobia witch hunt, bad for policy in general. If this were a race issue and they banned a black player, stating they would ban a white player as well isn’t exactly a matter of equal fairness. And yes, to many, their sexual orientation is just as important as their race or gender. Conservative America needs to stop panicking about that 3-letter word, sex. GASP! Are we still a bunch of 11-year-olds snickering at that word listed on our old ScanTron test forms asking us our gender as “Sex – M/F”?

    Bottom Line:
    Microsoft is not homophobic. While I’m not a fan of the HRC, their lists of LGBT friendly companies is fact-based. MSFT is highly-rated.

    Stephen Toulouse doesn’t hate the gays. He has an ENORMOUSLY difficult job (which he loves for some odd reason). He and his team simply need to refine their ToU, because as it stands, it caters to the conservative, no matter how good the intentions may have been.

    Sexual Orientation is NOT, repeat NOT inappropriate subject matter. This simply cannot be argued. I can’t quite say this enough. When people argue that gaming services are no place for your sexual preference, I’d like them to actually PLAY a round of any game on XBL with the NXE (New Xbox Experience). This allows you to customize “avatars” to look just like you (like the Wii’s Miis) for all of the community to see. If I am allowed to make a black, male, snowboarding avatar, why can’t my profile list that I am gay? Clearly the NXE is meant for more socialization to compete with [email protected], and yet, people say gaming isn’t for that? This argument boggles the mind. You are, in essence, stating once again that sexual orientation is less appropriate than race or gender. Until these people see otherwise, we’ll never move forward. Ever.

    Take care all, and be well!

  • Sebbe

    Miscrosoft Responds Kind of (via

    “The future of Xbox forums will include some method of identifying sexual orientation in gaming profiles (good luck with that one), but the development of relationship/orientation options will take time.”

    “So, Microsoft did not exactly apologize for the treatment of players on its site. It did, however, agree to open up a space for gay players in the future. Whether this will do anything to curb the obvious harassment experienced on these sites, we have yet to see. What was accomplished, was a recommendation for all gamers experiencing homophobic harassment to post complaints about users on

    I know I will be monitoring that site as will many others. Maybe the next XBox user kicked offline will be the cause of the intolerance rather than its victim.”

  • FairGamer

    “I know I will be monitoring that site as will many others. Maybe the next XBox user kicked offline will be the cause of the intolerance rather than its victim.”



  • Francisco

    I just posted a link to this on the xbox live forums… hopefully they’ll do something about it. I cancelled my xbox live account because i thought it was a waste of money. + it’s full of douche bags, and my friends are rarely online.

  • GJR

    Um, does anyone really expect people who play games where people are shot and killed, massive drug use occurs and there is a tremendous amount of violence to be sensitive to GLBT players? Yes, people have the right to play what they want but these games glorify war, violence, hatred, misogyny so hatred of gay people cannot be far behind.

  • Charles J. Mueller


    GJR, those very same thoughts have passed through my hand on countless occasions.

    Take away the elements you just enumerated, and they would be game.

    And we wonder why our society is so violent, has so many killings, heavy drug usage and insensitivity to just about all human beings?

  • Charles J. Mueller

    correction: “and there would be no game.”

  • Steven

    Lovely, I own a Nintendo Wii. Works fine for me, Nintendo could care less if you are or not. Microsoft can go screw themselves with their passive-aggressive attitudes.

  • J4s0n

    If I write I’m like zoophilia and they ban me, that’s good. But if I write I’m lesbian and they ban me, thats bad? Fuckig hypocrites!

  • FairGamer


    I agree on this about THE PLAYERS. We cannot control what others think and say on XBL. However, that isn’t the issue here. The players minds may never change and all we can do as gay gamers is ignore it or formally complain to the proper authorities about it.

    The issue we are speaking of in this instance is a bad policy on Microsoft’s part. I deal with bigoted, homophobic and otherwise unenlightened gamers all the time. That has been a part of my life since this online gaming community started. The shocking part is when the provider of that service, the one you pay $50/year to for said service, bans or suspends you for just being different. Like banning someone for being left-handed.

    I don’t expect the greater gaming community to be sensitive to anyone’s issues, they don’t have to be. However, MSFT does. We are the consumer and they are the provider. Their policies are public and they are not some anonymous, sex-starved teenager.

  • Jdhfhf

    This isnt a dating site… Its a video game forum. Why on earth would you tell everyone about your sexuality in a video game?!… For attention? Wow lol you deserve it

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