“Legalize Gay. Repeal Prop 8.” We’ve all seen it. American Apparel has made sure of that. Their brightly-colored T-shirts emblazoned with an amazingly simple yet strongly impactful slogan have been passed out to thousands at LGBT Pride festivals and other events the nation over. The slogan has even made its way into print on tank tops, string tops and underwear (panties and thongs included).
Now, in response to a perceived lack of full inclusion, a transgender activist who’s worked on several LGBT equality projects is taking matters into his own hands and creating the “Legalize Trans” campaign.
An activist and former member of the Soulforce Equality Ride 2008 is claiming homophobia on the part of social networking site eSpin.
[Ed. Note — I have been involved in several Soulforce activities.]
A friend of activist Zak Rittenhouse of Lynchburg, Va., wrote eSpin administrators after “spinning the bottle” on the site and receiving this response:
55 dudes who wrote the Constitution drank 152 bottles of booze at the after party (we really hope they did not play Spin the Bottle with the empties.)
eSpin, primarily popular with teens and young adults, allows users to play the old “spin the bottle” game online and connect with other users.
The friend’s email read:
One of you’re bottle facts when “spinning the bottle” states that you hope none of the men who wrote the constitution played spin the bottle with the “empties.” For a website that is okay with homosexuality and half-supports it, this sounds like a very anti-gay statement. I have saved a picture of the screen on my computer in case I need to email it to you, but I would be very happy if there weren’t comments like this on here because it sounds very anti-gay or homophobic.
Rittenhouse says the response from eSpin administrators was less than enthusiastic:
We’re sorry that you were offended by one of the “bottle facts” on the spin page. We assure you that it was only meant in good fun and doesn’t represent any anti-gay feelings. I mean, think about it. You don’t have to be homophobic to think that an elderly Benjamin Franklin making out with George Washington is gross (especially if you consider the wooden teeth). Thanks, eSPIN.
After more feedback from the friend, eSpin administrators again stated they meant nothing by the comment:
You’re absolutely right. If Benjamin Franklin and George Washington want to make out with each other, it is completely their business and we should stay out of it. (Though they should probably check with Martha first.)
We’ve considered your suggestion and have decided to leave the bottle fact up. If you don’t think that eSPIN is a place where you want to hang out anymore, we regretfully understand.
Rittenhouse and his friend say they’ll be leaving the social networking site. “Then to my regret and the regret of the friends I have spoken with we will be canceling our accounts,” the friend wrote. “I hope that you may eventually see what a disgusting comment this is and I’m sure someone else will be mentioning this on a later date.”
Rittenhouse says social networking sites should be held “accountable for their actions and words.”
He adds, “When it comes to social networking sites they are no different and when it comes to sites that allow LGBT people to be out on them I hold them in higher regard. However when a site makes light of a user’s comment about a homophobic remark on their domain I feel that the social networking site needs to be held accountable for their words and actions or in this case lack there of.”