Harmful language and offensive stuff to avoid
“It's just that I'm not attracted to...” or “I just find ______ people extremely annoying.” Everyone has their preferences and nobody has the right to tell you what to be attracted to or not find annoying, however it is undeniable that part of being a member of a minority group inevitably comes with having to deal with people making excuses for their prejudices using those as justifications. In LGBT contexts, it generally manifests as prejudice against femme gay men, butch gay women, trans people, and people of color. It gets old and fast. In an LGBT safe space, we should be able to feel comfortable in our queerness without having to hear about how being butch, femme, having a trans body, or otherwise something other than hetero, white, or cis-normative is annoying or unattractive to you. Please keep it to yourself.
“It's just a joke” and “reclaim the word, then and stop being such a doormat!” Whether it's possible to reclaim a word has more to do with its history and usage than with some people on reddit deciding not to get offended when somebody making a hurtful or triggering joke doesn't want to be told to knock it off. Appreciate that not everyone's experience of common anti-LGBT words (faggot, dyke, trap, tranny, shemale, hermaphrodite) are going to be the same. Some people will say it doesn't hurt them and others will have heard it only in very hurtful contexts. Because r/lgbt is a safe space, we ask that you treat others with respect and not expect that they should push through the tears and laugh so that you can make whatever joke you want. Hurtful jokes and pejoratives at the expense of sexual orientations and gender identities may be removed. And anyway, berating somebody won't make them change their mind and decide you're funny.
“You're not ______, you're just _________” Otherwise known as erasure. Commonly seen in reference to bisexuals, pansexuals, intersex, asexual, and transgender people. In an LGBT safe space, we will not presume to tell other people what they are. We will assume, unless they identify as “questioning,” that they know what they are. After all, we don't live inside their heads, they do, and thus are infinitely more familiar with the floor plan. Shrugging off gender identities and non-heterosexual orientations is historically a very common method of marginalizing LGBT people. We come to r/lgbt to get away from it, so wipe your feet at the door.
Being misgendered for those who are transgender can be deeply offensive as it is an assault against that person's gender identity. Due to this using correct pronouns is important especially with respect to transgender members of this subreddit. Please be mindful of the pronouns people prefer and if you are unsure, use the singular "they" form. It is generally acceptable to ask specifically what pronouns people prefer.
Intentionally misgendering people, especially those who are openly transgender, is grounds for swift and immediate moderator action.
Be mindful when you're sharing your sexual fantasies. Everyone has 'em, except maybe asexuals, and we all know how frustrating it can be even to reference them in the most PG fashion when there are nothing but straight cis people around. Because it can seem uniquely challenging for LGBT people to discuss these things outside of queer spaces, sometimes we let our hair down here and r/lgbt discussion can take a turn for the naughty. It is important, however, when you're sharing or discussing these things to be mindful of the fact that some of the groups under the LGBT umbrella are commonly oversexualized and fetishized, and that being a member of one of these groups can be exhausting. Be careful not to dehumanize other posters in r/lgbt. We are people, not just sex objects. Lesbians do not make out so that straight or bi men can watch. Bisexual men and women do not exist for your threesome fantasies. Some may do that sometimes but others may have no interest whatsoever. Trans and intersex people do not exist to have a “little something for everyone.”
Speak for yourself
Speak for yourself. Some people's parents throw them coming out parties and set them up with their gay friends' gay kids or take them out clothes shopping the minute they get their hormones. The rest of us have less than welcoming circumstances. In r/lgbt discussion, we must all be mindful that some of us are called “faggots” and “trannies” by genuinely hateful and sometimes threatening people and that we come to get away from that. If you're in a situation where nobody hates you and nobody is a threat to you because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, then you are in a better situation than some of the people who come to r/lgbt. Not everyone has circumstances where they are safe or accepted and not everyone who says “lol you're a faggot” is just a harmless dork trying to be funny.
Concern trolling. Concern trolling is when somebody either professes to be in favor “I'm an ally!” or even “I'm L/G/B/T/Q/I/A myself” but then wishes to express some concern or other they have “but pride parades are gross.” Concern trolls can be so insidious and so harmful that sometimes they may even have you questioning whether you really have the right to expect equal treatment. They may be doing it on purpose or out of genuine ignorance, but the consequences are the same either way. Mods are on the lookout for concern trolls. Old and tired common concern trolls include:
- Pride parades showing flamboyant people hurt the cause!
- Trans women have penises and therefore are threats to cis women.
- Telling people not to call you a faggot/tranny/hermaphrodite is going to lose allies.
- You can't expect everyone not to be homophobic/transphobic/biphobic. Getting upset about it every time hurts the cause.
Concern trolls are not to be confused with actual allies, whose support we appreciate and enjoy. Remember what the grown-ups told you about how to know whether your friend is really a friend. A good ally will not tell you that you should accept whatever people call you, or that you should act less queer, or that you are a threat to anyone because of what you are. A good ally will support your right to be yourself.
Harm reduction vs. False dichotomy
Depending on where you live, acceptance of GSM people can be more or less difficult to find. For those of us who feel that we are in an area or a situation where allies can be difficult to find, it can be necessary or tempting to accept whatever we can get. How do you know the difference?
Say you had to choose between two candidates for supreme ruler of your nation. One of the candidates, Ms. Murder, supports the death penalty for GSM people. The other candidate, Ms. Whippings, supports whippings for GSM people. Neither is a great idea, but if you abstain, you might end up with the death penalty candidate. Let’s face it: you have to vote for Ms. Whippings. That’s harm reduction. Harm reduction is complacency. It is the act of accepting that something bad is going to happen and choosing the lesser of two evils. A real world example includes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the former improvement on No Gays Ever (not its official title) that kept gays out of the military.
Now Ms. Whippings has won. You and all the other GSM people successfully reduced harm and now you’re all alive and well, though regularly whipped. Maybe you even kind of like being whipped. Maybe you were going to get whipped on a regular basis anyway. Some people are dying because of the whippings, but some kind of look forward to it. Ms. Whippings’ supporters have now split in two, the pro-whipping faction, and the anti-whipping faction. The anti-whipping faction is bloodied and bruised and would like the whippings to stop. The pro-whipping faction is having a great time and would prefer the anti-whipping faction just shut up because, hey, at least Ms. Whippings isn’t Ms. Murder. What the pro-whipping faction has created is an example of a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is the perception of a choice between two things and only two things to the exclusion of all outside options.
While argumental fallacies are not strictly forbidden in r/lgbt, they tend to run rampant and are often (consciously or unconsciously) concern trolls. Common examples include but are not limited to:
- Don’t boycott Chick-fil-A. Sure, they contribute hundreds of thousands to anti-gay organizations, but at least they HIRE gay people!
- Stop ragging on the HRC. Sure they throw trans people under the bus at every opportunity they get, but they’re all gay people have got!
- Sure, the Salvation Army calls us abominations and will only erect shelters where they are allowed to discriminate in employment, but they help homeless people.
- Sure, these allies call us fags and fairies and whatnot, but we need them if we’re going to get anywhere AKA “you catch more flies with honey...”
Abusive people and organizations count on your continued compliance with these false dichotomies. Nobody is forcing their hand to discriminate, even a little bit, but the public false perception of these situations as harm reduction actually perpetuates harm. In r/lgbt, there are several discussions about people and organizations that engage in this sort of rhetoric to justify their continued “softer” discrimination. If you’re not one of the people that the organization in question is discriminating against, it might be tempting to ask why you must give up this rare ally, this person, organization, or principle that has done so much for you. It’s understandable, but you must try to consider the plight of the person who doesn’t so much like these whippings. Failure to do so will be treated the same as concern trolling because it is the same as concern trolling. Comments will removed and their authors possibly banned.
After all, if the CEO of Chick-fil-A came in to r/lgbt asking how many GSM people he had to hire before he could ethically contribute to Ms. Murder’s campaign, we wouldn’t let him get away with that, but that’s what’s happening. Don’t let the timing fool you.
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Tone policing is an attempt to silence those people within the community who are angry, hurt, or emotional. It is often espoused by concern trolls or as a derailing tactic, in order to make the discussion about how you've said something instead of what you've said.
"When someone says something oppressive — that can be a racist slur, an ableist stereotype, a misogynist dismissal, an invalidation of identity/experiences, being asked invasive and entitled questions, and so on – it feels like being slapped in the face, to the person on the receiving end. The automatic response is emotion and pain. It’s quite exhausting and difficult to restrain the resulting anger. And, frankly, it’s cruel and ridiculous to expect a person to be calm and polite in response to an act of oppression. Marginalized people often do not have the luxury of emotionally distancing themselves from discussions on their rights and experiences." --From Rose's Musings
Some more commonly seen tone policing statements include:
- It's just a joke
- Lighten up
- This isn't worth your time
- Why are you getting up in arms about this?
- You are tilting at windmills
- We need those allies, don't berate them
- Maybe the best thing to do is to be kind
- Maybe the best thing to do is to be patient
- You catch more flies with honey than vinegar
- You're being too sensitive
- You're too emotional
"You talk about being ________ too much" Straight, cis people enjoy the liberty to discuss their partners, gendered fashion statements, weddings, dates, and encounters at social gatherings as much as they like, but because it is so common, it tends to blend in to the background noise and people don't notice that these people are broadcasting their heterosexuality and cis genders. Therefore, when trans people discuss gendered decisions they make including fashion or social groups (skirts, girlscouts, boyscouts), and when bi/pan/homosexual people discuss their choices of partners, whether that be in the context of who they've been with for years or who they were flirting with at which bar on Friday night, it tends to stick out like a sore thumb. In non-lgbt spaces, some of us catch a lot of heat for speaking about these things and "cramming them down people's throats" and as a result, people generally have a lot of pent up desire to discuss those things in r/lgbt. Because this is an LGBT discussion forum, absolutely no amount of discussing a person's gender or orientation should be considered "too much." They are on-topic, no more, no less. Further to the point, when somebody comes in and discusses a problem they had or are having IRL because of their gender or orientation, accusing them of just being too obviously queer or talking about their queerness too much will be considered harmful language and subject to deletion.
Gender politics on reddit get ugly, and fast. r/lgbt is usually a pretty good place for gender politics, as women usually don't find themselves asked to post pictures of themselves naked or overly criticized or objectified. However, there is sometimes sexism and it's important to note that this can get very close to home. Misogyny and trans/bi/homophobia are inextricably linked. A great deal of homophobia can be attributed to people's discomfort with seeing men "act like women" in the form of being attracted to men, acting feminine, or being on the receiving end of sex, and with women rejecting men or having any sexual desires at all. As such, many readers of r/lgbt will be well-versed in gender politics. We ask that you take particular care to avoid the common types of misogyny that hurt LGBT people, most commonly "It's just that I find femme gay guys annoying," "lesbians are just afraid of men/man-haters" "bisexual (women) are just sluts," etc. We also ask that you avoid common misogynist lies propagated by mens' rights organizations as outlined in this helpful page by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That being said, we understand that many of the people in r/lgbt are teenagers and/or otherwise well-meaning and not everyone has taken gender studies classes. Anything that is not outlined here in the FAQ will remain undeleted as long as the posters participate in the conversation with respect and a willingness to learn.
Moderating a large subreddit with the flimsy tools provided by reddit is a large time sink, often arduous, and more often than not thankless. The mods' only motivation for doing it is to have one tiny corner of the larger reddit subreddits actually be a decent, safe place for GSM people to go and not be subject to the same homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and racist nonsense that they encounter in their day to day life and the rest of reddit. Despite the delusions many people have of reddit moderators being magical wizards wielding unlimited magical internet power, the reality is closer to that of the online equivalent of the kinds of janitors people call because they really don't want to clean shit off of the bathroom ceiling for the third time this week and can't someone else just do it this time? As such, if you post talking about how the mods are literally hitlerstalin polpot and omg they're all so horrible and terrible for enforcing the rules of their subreddit that are clearly outlined, do not be surprised if more swift and severe action is taken on you. Also, you can expect a similar amount of respect received in return if you attempt to contest moderator action, especially if it includes additional sass.
Moreover, responses to moderator action along the lines of "BUT I THOUGHT THIS WAS A SAFE SPACE" are highly suspect and quite frankly, the moderators are tired of hearing it. Safe space does not mean you have the right to post whatever inane drivel comes to mind without regards for how it might make others feel, in fact it means the opposite, no matter how much proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation you used to make a problematic post. These statements show that you clearly have not read the rules, and do not understand them. As such, do not be surprised if severe and swift action is taken to remove your posting privileges in response.
Serophobia is the manifestation of fear or aversion directed towards people living with HIV. Similarly, misleading or false information about HIV and AIDS is a bannable offense, as is advocating the continuation of discrimination against gay men donating blood.
Common questions and misconceptions
work in progress
Did you break the rules? Tips for a successful appeal to restore posting privileges
Demonstrate an understanding of why your post was hurtful.
An Action Plan
We want to know that you don't intend to do it again and that we can safely return you to the conversation without having to remove you. Demonstrate this.
The moderators do not ban for "just" disagreeing with you, they ban for violating the rules and more importantly, for making the environment hostile to GSM people. The mods have a growing and impressive collection of very funny modmails where this is fundamentally misunderstood. If you have failed to read this document and/or make any attempts to understand it, expect to get responses to appeals of moderator action that contain as much effort as you put in to understanding what this subreddit is for.