A moment of disillusionment from an old Gaymer
Entry 04/06/2013 07:21:28 AM – Mentat 684
“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.” – J. William Fulbright
While yesterday was one of those sort of days where I was up and about more than sitting down and calm, I had an incident that gave me a bit of humor and a lot of pause. During one of those interludes while C was off with friends, I decided to play a bit of Star Trek Online because I needed to grind a bit of Dilithium and it’s a fairly good way of adding a bit of routine (and order) to an otherwise jittery day. Here is a bit of the back story to this to understand where I’m coming from in this.
I had left the Fleet that I had been part of because of a difference of opinion on what can and cannot be talked about and me having a problem with anyone censoring individuals or a group, took exception when one particularly conversation (that wasn’t in the least bit offensive) was being censored by some rather loud detractors. So, I went on the market to find another Fleet that I could dump my excess materials, equipment, monies and what have you… and went in search of other gaymers. The largest of the LGBT fleets that I had come across was Stonewall Fleet, so much so that they had their own chat channel within the game that I could configure and join. I remember doing so (configuring and joining the chat channel and perhaps later on, the fleet) with the intent of getting a feel of the people before. Sort of a try before you buy, as the saying goes.
About a week or two into watching and then later interacting with the chat, I got into my first scuffle with a bunch of the more uptight folk in the group. I made a comment about leaving for Star Wars: The Old Republic to troll the kids there, and they got offensive about it. Sure, I know I worded it wrong and made the mistake of assuming that people would understand my nature given I often snarked folk in the week I had been actively chatting, but they went on the attack saying it’s wrong. After 30 minutes of my explaining why I do what I do (I only troll kids that are being tits. After all, I work on the belief, if you’re going to be a tit, you’re going to be treated as such). Only one of the more aggressive understood why I was the way I was (even if he didn’t condone it), while the rest were remaining on the offensive. Basically doing precisely what I do for the reasons why I do it, and denying their nature in the process.
At that point, I decided I was going to remain a free agent and not join their fleet and waited out for better offers.
I did get that better offer from a good acquaintance in Ireland (no, not you Glenn) who had also left the fleet we had been part of because of differences in play styles with the management there and ended up joining a rather nice bunch of folk from the fleet of LaFamilia (otherwise known as “The Family”). I tagged along because I have a good rapport with the smarmy git and the fact that he generally knows how to pick them even if things fall through at a later time. Though I kept Stonewall Fleet Chat active because I wasn’t sure what the mix was with the Fleet, and admittedly it’s nice to be able to chat, be camp, and generally light with folk that can understand some of the humor I’ve come to appreciate (and am familiar with).
Then comes last night. I was in a fairly good mood, I wanted to grind a bit. The queerfolk where in their usual sort of high spirits mood. There was a bit of camp, and a bit of heckling going on. I sort of made a couple of comments, but paid more attention to the grinding for Dilithium that I was doing. And then it hit me while I was heading towards the Asteroid Mine that there was something happening on Bajor. Some sort of gathering. Several of the folk were making cutesy comments that the “speechifier” was going to be speechifying.
I was mining on the Asteroid, and there it was in it’s full and vomitus glory… The leader of the Stonewall Fleet was prattling on like a politician running for a term in office.
I said something about being a politician’s son and that the last thing that should be going on is any sort of aggrandizing grandstanding in a public chat. That it’s better to get to the point.
The leader of the fleet send a scathing whisper to me accusing me of being disrespectful and that he would mute me if I continued.
For one brief moment, I thought about copying & pasting that comment to the Public chat calling out that I must’ve hit a nerve if this “speechifier” is making threats in private. But then I thought twice about it, knowing full well of doing such a thing would cause instantaneous flaming both from the leader as well as whatever quiet spectators were sitting there watching.
In the meantime, several of the fleet called me a “d-bag” for being so “disrespectful”.
I shot back quickly that I’m not a douchebag, and clarified that I generally am good to get along with except when someone is being a grandstanding blow-hard. I went on further to say that he should get to the point as this is a game, not a platform for a political campaign.
The leader went on to say something about “welcoming diversity to the fleet.”
To which I countered, “except when that opinion is dissenting” and got myself banned from their happy little chat.
Admittedly I didn’t realize that I was banned. It had simply gone quiet and I had assumed that the lot of them had moved whatever long-winded speech that was going on to Ventrilo. But after a brief respite from the game, going to chat with C for a bit before he headed to bed and coming back to finish off the grinding and the Duty Officer Missions that I wanted to queue up, realized that it had been too quiet for that Stonewall Fleet’s chat channel. So when I went to look for the channel information, my access to it had been removed. When I tried to re-join I had been denied.
I laughed in LaFamilia’s fleet chat and told them the story, including the banning. There was a bit of chat, and a bit of explaining, but overall at the time before I headed to bed I found it sardonically funny. So did the members of my fleet (though they were a bit confused about how I pulled of being part of 2 different fleet chats).
This morning though? I’m finding it sad. I mean here we are in the 21st century, and what I saw of the leader of this group and the repercussions of my actions to be antiquated. This is something I would’ve expect in the 80s and not now. After all, diversity as it has been taught to me is to accept the good and the bad of the community. It means that sometimes, we’re going to encounter people of an opinion that is completely counter to our own.
I had learned through my years of wandering the planet that a good leader (not to mention a strong one), will be able to roll not only with those of like mind, but also those of an opinion completely counter to their own. To be able to address the group as well as the hecklers, in a way that can bring them all together. Well, sometimes anyway. There are just some that are impossible to please.
This leader of this group however, isn’t one of those that could be qualified as a good leader. If anything, he’s one of the most common of the “leaders” I’ve seen since my days on IRC.
So as I continue to write this entry, I recalled a lot of the familiar patterns of seeing this in the 23 years of being online. The cliquishness of gay men’s (and sometimes even lesbian) groups. The hair-trigger attitude of dissenting voices to whatever the head of the group encounters them. The banning/removing/ostracizing of whatever dissenting voice that comes up — automatically assuming that dissention is equivalent to “the enemy”. That this was typical of someone that has been bullied and picked on that created a power base of being their own Queen of Hearts in their own little kingdom.
Sitting here now, it raises the question: Have we as the abused (from years of being put down for being gay) become the very thing we hated? The abuser? That in our striving for equality, have we lost our ability to understand the very tolerances we’re demanding from others?
I hope not. Because if we have, this is going to be a very dark day in the future when (and if) we get those equalities we’ve been fighting for, all these years.
Anyway, I’m off for the time being. Time to watch a bit of television, make lunch and have a moment or two of peace. Until the next time.