Proudmoore is the unofficial LGBT-friendly server in World of Warcraft. Some openly gay players chose the server as their home and began to form gay guilds. The first guild to tout being “LGBT friendly” was asked to stop promoting this message by Game Masters, because it was against the terms and conditions. GMs stated that,
“Topics related to sensitive real-world subjects—such as religious, sexual or political preference, for example—have had a tendency to result in communication between players that often breaks down into harassment.”
This quickly escalated to a legal battle, and Blizzard has since changed their stance on recruiting. Now LGBT players have their own unofficial server where they explore the world Azeroth in peace. It’s been about eight years since the controversy took place. I wanted to check in on Proudmoore to see how things were going, and so I made a fresh new character on the server to trade chat with some LGBT guild members.
(Artist drawing of the leaders of Dawn of the Dream)
One of the first people I talked with was Pride, the guild leader of Dawn of the Dream. Pride told me about how the reset of the server reacts to LGBT guilds on Proudmoore:
“The server is very accepting overall. I’ve never seen more guilds labeled as “LGBT friendly” than I have on Proudmoore. During my time, I’ve played on many different servers and promoting a guild as “LGBT friendly” is unheard outside of Proudmoore. Now, this may have something to do with the fact that Proudmoore is considered the official “LGBT server” – but regardless, the feeling of acceptance is nice to say the least.”
It seems like overall the other people on the server who do not identity as LGBT are okay with guilds promoting themselves as such. My first thought is that marginalized groups, like geek/nerd culture, are going to be more accepting of other marginalized groups because they have something in common. They in many ways can recognize similar struggles of acceptance in our very hegemonic culture.
One issue that was brought up by Keith, a member of the guild Stonewall Senior Guard, was the new feature Blizzard has implemented called Cross Realm Zones or Instances. This gives players the ability to get matched up with or see other people from different realms. So there is the possibility for out players to encounter people from realms that may not be as LGBT friendly as Proudmoore.
The guild Stonewall Senior Guard also brought up one problem with recruiting. They are sometimes asked “why do you need a gay guild?”
The answer is really simple. LGBT friendly guilds provide a space where people of the community do not have to worry about being who they are. They do not have to censor or be worried that they will not be accepted.
(Stonewall Senior guard)
Turns out that it was the controversy surrounding the recruitment of LGBT friendly guilds that inspired many people to come play on Proudmoore. A number of the members from Stonewall Senior Guard mentioned that they had no clue there were any gay guilds in WoW until the issue was brought out into the public. The controversy that almost silenced gay players is what ultimately paved the way for Proudmoore to bloom.
The final aspect of the LGBT World of Warcraft community I wanted to explore was the intersection of queer and geek cultures. I asked Stonewall Senior Guards if they felt that there is an anti-geek stigma in the queer community? A player named Jozacar responded by saying that we still have superficiality within the LGBT community. The stereotype of a nerd is almost the opposite of the stereotype of the gay male that is so often depicted in mainstream media. So it is not surprising that Jozacar said, “I’m not in the closet about my gaming, but I don’t throw it out to all people. We still have shallowness in the queer community.”
World of Warcraft has really come a long way since the GM’s original comments. Proudmoore has since become the safe haven for the queer nerds to take on bosses like Garrosh Hellscream, battle their opponents in the arena, or even hold a Pride Parade, without the fear of being harassed.
(Proudmoore Pride Parade 2012)