Not Just No But HELL NO! An Open Letter To The Organizers Of The Ravhellenic Games 2014
This needs some context.
Ravelry? It’s the largest and most amazing knitting website on earth.
Every year they have a large scale knit-a-long (which is a thing where knitters all knit…you know along with each other.) called The Ravhellenic Games.
At some point I fervently hope that they manage to pull this thing off without causing huge and unnecessary drama for the Ravelry site owners and operators.
This year is not that year.
As my readers may recall, the Sochi Olympics are causing a lot of controversy because Russia hates it’s LGBTQ citizens and the LGBTQ community of the world.
Everyone recalls this, yes?
Cool, now we’re all on the same page.
Last night the organizers of the Ravehllenic Games (which used to be called The Ravlympics until the owners of the site got a cease and desist letter from the Olympic Committee) posted this.
The Ravellenic Games is a world-wide group made up of thousands of diverse competitors who believe different things and hold different opinions.
Diversity is wonderful, and we all appreciate it.
However, it can also lead to disagreements, sometimes of the less-than-polite variety, and no one wants that. We’re here for fun.
In order to minimize disruptions, the decision was made at the beginning of the Games that politics, politicking, and political discussions would not be acceptable in this forum.
Rainbows with messages, protests, pro- and anti- stances: these have their place. However, this forum is not that place.
This rule is posted on the front page of the group and in the FAQs, and an overt announcement was made a couple weeks ago.
We’ve had to edit a few posts to remove political messages. We don’t want to do this, you don’t want us to do this… please help us out by not posting politics in the first place.
They clarified several hours later with this:
The “no politics” rule is intended to make the discussions here welcoming and warm for all comers.
It applies only to the content of posts on the Ravellenics forum. This includes finish lines; event threads; team threads that are hosted here; and all other chatter.
Team names, Ravatars, project names, project notes, and team threads hosted in other groups are not affected by this rule. Political messages are central to the identity of many teams, individual Ravthletes, and projects. Feel free to express those messages fully in those settings.
First I’d like to say that the owners and operators of Ravelry don’t have anything to do with this decision. I am absolutely 100% positive they were not involved in it.
NOT THEIR FAULT. Just in case anyone was unclear.
Second, NOT CENSORSHIP. Please don’t say that it is. That’s a thing that governments do, not websites.
Finally, I would like to respond to the request entailed in the above quotes.
No. Not just no but hell no! And since I’m already typing WHAT IN THE NAME OF REASON AND BASIC HUMAN DECENCY WERE YOU BLOODY WELL THINKING?
Why, when the group of moderators agreed on this policy, did someone not listen to the small voice that must have desperately screaming at you to stop?
When did you decide that in an effort to make people feel comfortable you were going to tell a not small number of potential participants that your definition of comfort did not include consideration for them and their allies?
At what point did you forget how words work? “Diversity is wonderful, and we all appreciate it. However…,” means you care not one whit about diversity.You care about the few hateful people whom, I would be willing to bet, complained that someone was too out in a post. That’s how sentence structure functions.
Do you think that repeating the phrase “We are here to have fun,” has some sort of talismanic magic associated with it that will make it fun to talk about things like our representatives to the Olympic Committee or some of our athletes or their families or the massive tidal wave of rainbow knitted/crocheted shit you are about to see without mentioning why it matters to us?
Let me clarify some things for you.
Being bi, in my case, or lesbian or gay or trans or queer or questioning or Intersex any number of designations? That’s not politics. That’s who we fucking are, just like being tall is who I am and being a woman of color is who I am. And in Russia, right now, this second, who we are is entirely likely to be a death sentence.
Right now, in Russia, which is the nation about to host this shindig that you want to “just be about having fun,” real human beings are being targeted, attacked, and killed and no one will help them because those attacks have government sanction.
And you want us to be quiet about it?
The only reason I sit here able to write this to you because people in this nation marched and fought and risked everything and yes, in some cases suffered their own death sentences.
And you want us to be quiet about it?
Now the Russian government will tell you that I am overreacting, that they do not hate the LGBTQ community. They simply want to protect their children from bad influences. People can still be gay, or any variation thereof. They just have to be quiet about it. They can’t use the games to show their gayness. So, no wearing the internationally accepted symbol of the gay. Other symbols are fine. I’m thinking specifically of religious ones. I’m sure the Sochi Games will have any number of mentions of The Divine. (I’m equally sure the Ravhellenic Games will have them as well.) And those will be fine. Just nothing that brings one of the most basic, fundamental aspects of what makes a person who they are, if that aspect happens to not be straight. They want to erase their LGBTQ community before the games begin, at least metaphorically. They want all of us to be invisible.
And so do you.
And that is so not acceptable I don’t even know how to articulate it.
Oh wait, yes I do.
Refusing to allow people to discuss an integral part of their personhood? That is the opposite of “warm and welcoming.”
So you failed there.
I’m betting…not let’s be honest, I’m really hoping that the past day or so has been the opposite of fun for you as a group.
So that’s another failure.
Your decision is cruel. It is small minded. It is ignorant and it has blown up in your face in a spectacular fashion, which is no less than you deserve.
But the thing is, I’ve dealt with bigots like you before. So no matter the level of my outrage or how wide the group that shares it (it’s a pretty wide group, in case you were wondering) the only reaction that you will have is to cry Straight People’s Tears (which is the straight, homophobic variation of White Woman’s Tears) and whine that you didn’t meeeeeaaaaan it!
You will probably remind us that THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, in the event that the first couple of times made that point murky.
Well Witch, what shall we do? I hear you asking. it’s possible that’s only in my head. It’s late and in what has regrettably become a New Year’s tradition, I am nursing a vicious cold. I’m going to assume that someone is asking that and just go with it.
There are three options; go up the chain, boycott or protest.
The first, going up the chain, is not my favorite because, you know, this bullshit decision is not the Ravelry owner’s responsibility and as such they shouldn’t be made to pay for it. That said, it may be the most civil and have the least negative consequences for those of us who have been harmed by this. If that is seen as the best answer and they can, within their own rules, intervene, demanding that the Rav site owners pressure the mods for either a public apology and reversal of the decision or the removal of the whole mod team seems a reasonable request to make.
The second, boycott, is also not my favorite, because they win.
So I would go with protest which can’t be a surprise to anyone who has met me or read anything I’ve ever written. Make those motherfuckers work. gay up those threads like a pride parade. Do exactly the opposite of what they want. Then do it again. Then do it again. And again. Make this issue as public as possible within the Ravelry community and enlist protesting allies. (Possibly by sharing this blog. IDK, just an idea except please do that.) Sound a relentless drumbeat of gay, gay, gay, GAY and choke them with it. Change your Ravatar to something obnoxiously gay themed. And then post nice sweet things on every fucking thread you can. While you’re at it, any symbol that might be even a tiny bit controversial should probably be flagged because this is supposed to be fucking fun.
Now, protest has consequences and you will totally get kicked out of the group. That is when you stop. Straight talk. Don’t push or even look at the line between protest and harassment. Do not do it. The Ravelry site owners have been known to ban members in extreme circumstances. If you’re organizing a protest and you don’t stay on point, you may be opening yourself up to that. It’s not likely but it is possible. Actions have consequences, even when they are the result of righting a wrong. If there were no possibility of negative consequences we would probably not call them protests so much as, I don’t know, life.
Good luck, y’all. I’ll be over here drinking tea and mainlining zinc based products.