What started off as a well-intentioned article, written in response to Andrew Meade’s Gamasutra piece about the lack of LGBT characters in video games
, soon spun into wild accusations of homophobia. For absolutely no reason.
Meade’s piece, titled “Awful Lot of Heterosexuals Around Here”, sparked a heated debate among the Gamasutra readers. In his article, Meade suggests,
“What if at the end of Uncharted 3, we found out that the reason why Drake could never hold down a relationship, and why he always acts like an insufferable douche, was because he had been wrestling with his sexuality for his entire life? What if at the end of Uncharted 3, Drake came out? If that happened I would slow clap. I really would.”
Jim Sterling decided that the idea that Meade threw out at the end of his article was so brilliant that he would elaborate on why Nathan Drake would make such a fantastic gay character
. Reasons for this ranged from his inability to maintain a relationship with women, his popularity and likability being able to influence and change attitudes, messing with genuinely homophobic gamers that adore the series, and being able to showcase a fleshed out gay character that wasn’t just a campy stereotype. That last reason seemed to hit a nerve with a few gay gamers...
Joshua Meadows wrote a rather lengthy response
(which has since been updated) to Sterling’s response to Meade’s article on his gaming blog. Still with me? Good. He begins by stating his distaste for Sterling, which probably wasn’t the best introduction into a post that seemed rather... carelessly written. All that he seems to have taken away from initially reading Sterling’s article was that Nathan Drake would be a good gay character because nobody thinks that he’s gay. He goes on to say, “This is completely awesome, mind you, because he's not a mincing, prancing f****t so it's the sort of thing that would be great!”
Right there, we get the sense that this guy seems to have a lot of baggage and is projecting a lot of his issues onto a writer that he admits he doesn’t like. He mentions another article written by Sterling about Fallout: New Vegas. In it, Sterling mentioned how wonderful it was to discover that one of the characters was gay, when he initially had no idea. All that Meadows took from that? “So, there it is: Sterling's idea of a positive gay role model is someone who isn't flamboyant, doesn't bring up his sexuality unless relentlessly asked about it, and won't hit on you unless you make the first move.” It seemed like another case of Meadows bringing out his personal issues and reading Sterling’s writing in a way clearly not intended.
The most amusing bit, of course, is when he assumes that Jim Sterling is writing from a heterosexual viewpoint, when in fact Sterling is a proud bisexual himself.
This was followed by tweets from @aeazel of GayGamer.net and @radiatoryang in support of Meadows’ rant.
“No, the only good gay is not one who is undetectable, easily mistaken for straight, and bro-ey.”
“I see enough gay-hating shit on various gay sites and among the gay community, don't need it in games too.”
“what bugs me more are the "I am gay and I agree" comments, blah blah something hegemony”
My initial reaction to all of this was purely confusion. How did these people seem to misinterpret Sterling’s writing to such a degree? He was in support of more diverse representations of gay characters. He simply stated that it would be refreshing to see a different kind of gay character. Rather than gay character personalities that we’ve seen many times before, like Glee’s Kurt or Enchanted Arms’ Makoto, how refreshing was it to see someone like Max from Happy Endings or Kanji from Persona 4? It’s simply a desire to showcase another side of the gay community, not to showcase a “correct” side.
My second reaction is one of disappointment. I can understand that previous wounds from past experiences may not have healed for these guys, and they may be extremely sensitive about the subject, but to lash out on a guy that clearly meant well without doing any research on him was uncalled for. I also find it extremely insensitive to accuse gay men that would agree with Sterling of adhering to cultural hegemony. Do gay men that don’t relate to many of the gay characters we see in media today not deserve characters to relate to themselves? How can more feminine gay men say that they are simply being themselves, then turn around and accuse less feminine gay men of adhering to cultural hegemony?
Sterling and Meadows have since talked it out and reached an understanding, but why did this exchange and knee-jerk reaction happen in the first place?
I wouldn’t describe myself as a masculine person in the least bit, but seeing Max from Happy Endings for the first time filled me with joy. It was like a breath of fresh air, seeing how much of a sloppy, lazy slacker he was. Is it really such a tragedy that people want to see more gay characters that have less feminine traits? Is it really so terrible that some gay men want to see gay characters that are more like them? I mean... isn't that what we all want in the end? Gay, lesbian, black, Hispanic, whatever. All of us minorities just want some representation and to see characters that are just... like us.