If you haven’t already learned this from the way I talk, I’m a supporter of Gay Rights and many social issues that are present in our communities. I think that the world has some changing to do, for the better, but I understand this is a heated issue and there are many ways of addressing it. I believe that it is my job as someone who produces content to call attention to what I consider problems within the FGC, and encourage change, or at the very least, discussion.
That is why I am happy to bring to you an article by a close friend of mine, Noah Yanicki, a Yun player with the tag of Pynxis. He’s pretty new to the scene, but he’s a pretty great guy and his Yun has started to improve quickly! Notable performances of his include recently perfecting MMG G-Dragon’s guy on the WNF stream, though he unfortunately did not win that round :( (love you too though, G Dragon)
Anyways, here is a well written article from Noah that hopefully illustrates some of the difficulties gay people face on a daily basis, not just in our community. Whether you agree with the cause or not, I think people should be kind to all, and this article will definitely make you think about how you behave and talk to our fellow FGC members who may, or may not be gay!
Without further introduction, Noah’s article,
“Viper is so gay. 50% off of a random burnkick in the corner? Outplayed.”
“That guy you’re playing next round? Cammy player. He plays like a huge faggot. No footsies and all setups. Just anti air him and he can’t do anything.”
“V-necks are for queers.”
Can you see a common theme here? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not just the fact that everyone in the FGC talks a lot of smack.
My name is Noah Yanicki. My tag is Pynxis. I’m relatively new to the Fighting Game Community: I’ve only gone to Wednesday Night Fights on and off for a year and my first major was SoCal Regionals 2014, but I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty decent Yun.
I am also openly homosexual.
In my brief time going out to events and playing more games in person than online, I’ve noticed a not-so-subtle trend of homophobic language that permeates the social structure of the FGC. The use of the words “faggot” and “gay”, whether used to describe how incredibly overpowered some character is or to mock somebody, are never far from the conversation. This is not to say that I think everyone who plays fighting games is a violent and close-minded homophobe, since my experiences say otherwise, but the use of these words has become the acceptable vernacular.
Of course, this language is typically used between straight men as a means to insult and emasculate each other. The unspoken consensus is that if you are gay you are somehow less of a man or that you are weaker and somehow less relevant than if you are straight. I understand that these implications are not the conscious intent of the words, but nonetheless it is their meaning. Used in this way, people in the LGBTQIA community are reminded of their secondary status in society no matter the playful delivery. Our rights are not the same as yours and the government treats us unfairly. We can be killed just for existing in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the wrong place for us encompasses a lot of this country.
I’d like to speak about the word “faggot” in particular. There is an entire history of persecution and violence that defines the use of that word in America. People have been killed and assaulted while being called a “faggot,” and using that same word, no matter the context, only brings all of that back. We remember parents that don’t love us, bullies that made our lives miserable, punches and kicks given without merit except for the people we love. Don’t misunderstand, this is not a condemnation of the straight male, but a call to awareness. I know what you mean, but the fact remains that this is what you said. I may not have experienced the same trauma as other people within the gay community so the pain is not as sharp, but I feel for the deaths of people who did not need to die. I hear the terrible silence where people once were. This is what “faggot” means. If you must continue to use it, know what you are saying.
The same applies for saying if someone is “gay” or “queer” or a “homo.” You tell those of us who are actually gay that we are less important and meaningful. You tell us that we are less than you and that to be like us is undesirable. The inverse of this is true as well: it is desirable to be “straight.” I have been told, in a complementary fashion, that I “play Street Fighter 4 like a straight person.” What does that even mean? Would my otherwise limp wrists interfere with my execution? Would I aimlessly jump around the screen, skipping along as I so regularly do on a daily basis? Would I be unable to even fight because the drawback of homosexuality is so large my mind could not even comprehend the concept of defeating another person? Thanks for the backhanded compliment I guess. I’ll make sure to do the same and say you play really “gay.”
In spite of all this, I’ve had some generally positive experiences going to casuals or playing at WNF. People want to get to know me, I sometimes end up mentioning that I have a boyfriend (depending on the situation), and then we both move on with our lives. We keep playing the game we both love and nothing has changed. We finish our set, one of us has to get up and go to the end of the line, and that’s it. The one thing that I’ve always liked about playing fighting games competitively is that skill decides all, no matter who you are. Beat someone in a set and you stay on the station, beat someone in a tourney and you advance, regardless of identity. How much people respect you is entirely dependent on your abilities as a player, which to me is a breath of fresh air. When it’s so easy for people to write me off before they even get a chance to know me, having the ability to come from the same place as anyone else and fight my way to the top is just incredible.
One last thing I’d like to address is this awkward moment that has happened a few times in conversation mid set that I briefly mentioned before: I’ll get on a station and start talking with my opponent about school and who I am in “real life.” My sexual orientation sometimes comes up but it’s not a big deal: we keep playing like normal, until the moment. Now, I’m not one to claim my character isn’t cheap. Yun is dirty and he’s got some pretty grimy setups that I can hit people with that make people pretty mad, in addition to a really good divekick and command throw. So, there have been a couple times where I command throw someone into stun into death and my opponent feels as though the best way to complain about Yun is to say he’s “gay.” From my perspective, I’m completely unfazed: I’ve been around enough straight guys to not care when someone says something like that anymore. I just want them to hit rematch so I can finish them off and play the next guy, but then we make eye contact. I can see something in their expression that wasn’t there before. To this day I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it comes across in the form of a stuttered-out, awkward apology. They say that they “didn’t mean it like that” and desperately try to make amends. Sometimes an awkward handshake is involved, or a long story about how they “have tons of gay friends”, or some other pointless excuse.
Please. I don’t really care. I understand that they’re speaking the homophobic language that lets them blend in to the straight male majority that is the FGC. I understand that they really “didn’t mean it like that,” even though the language indicates on some level that they do. Thanks for the apology and for showing me self-awareness. I hope that they continue to correct this behavior, since it’s ultimately not really acceptable. For now, though, hold that loss. Maybe then they’ll see that being “gay” won’ keep me from the winner’s bracket and that who I am is not something to be ashamed of.