Are Gays Being Censored Online?
Last night designer Andrew Christian sent out an open letter to YouTube regarding both the removal of their "Pink Paradise" video and the blocking of the company's video channel for two weeks. At the same time, UK website PinkNews posted a story about the Facbeook fan page L’Homme du Jour (Man of the Day), which features sexy male model photography for a primarily gay male audience. The picture that got the site suspended is of model Leo Silva in a black bikini (top graphic, bottom right image) that was taken by Brazilian photographer Antonio Bezerra; evidently someone complained that it was too lewd, so Facebook sent the page admins a note saying it broke the social network's community standards rules in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
“I think that the removal of this image is outrageous, we live in a modern society where people (and especially women) are allowed to wear even skimpier and even less than what is shown in this image," L’Homme du Jour's Ray Clark said to the online pub. "This image contains no nudity nor is it sexually suggestive." While the page became live again a few hours later, Clark explains, “On numerous occasions we have advised Facebook that we are committed to adhering to their community standards and have asked them to clarify exactly what is and isn’t acceptable, but of course they remain mysteriously silent on the issue.”
Ask around and you'll probably hear similar stories. While working at Unzipped Media we constantly noted adult companies like Raging Stallion Studios having their fan pages blocked. That's not too surprising, because even though the images they displayed weren't precisely pornographic, the pictures' settings, marketing language and fan-generated copy surrounding them were definitely for mature audiences. But Facebook also blocked OutServe, the gay military page, and pulled an image from the Dangerous Minds' page because it was considered “sexually suggestive” and “abusive,” even though it was a picture from the UK soap opera EastEnders (top graphic, bottom left image). YouTube took a similar tact with Unzipped, yanking a video interview with Beau Breedlove where the young man discussed having an affair with Portland, Oregon Mayor Sam Adams. In all these cases there was nothing pornographic about the content, but some anonymous person was offended by it, reported the image or video to the website admins, and that was enough for censorship.
As blogger John Aravosis wrote when discussing the Facebook / OutServe situation, “This is starting to reek of an anti-gay action by the fake complainant, and we can’t have Facebook setting up a precedent where they pull down the pages of legitimate gay groups every time a homophobe makes up a lie.”
Designer Andrew Christian seems to agree with that sentiment toward YouTube. In his letter he states, "We're disappointed and confused about [our video's] removal for inappropriate content when there are hundreds of thousands of videos featuring overtly sexual female imagery. We are a company that only produces menswear, and it feels unfair that our ads are held to different standards for featuring the male body." Indeed, to support this point, Christian lists 14 links to heterosexual videos that violate YouTube's community guidelines. He continues with, "There is no doubt in our mind that there would be no issue if the exact same video was posted with female models instead of male. Are you being homophobic or is it something else?"
Check out Christian's video, now hosted on Vimeo, and let us know if you think it should have been yanked. Then ask yourself, are we dealing with homophobic people, a public that is uncomfortable with sexy male bodies, or both? And how do we as a progressive community change that situation?
YouTube links Andrew Christian posted that violate the site's community guidelines.
•Fully exposed breasts / butt:
•Female pool party video with just as much exposed butt and small swimsuits:
•Vagina showing through underwear:
•Lingering shots of tight underwear, exposed butts (and over 18 million views):
•Visible nipples and butts:
•Full exposed breasts:
•Camel toe video:
•Entire video is slow motion close-ups of bouncing breasts:
•Girl rubbing her barely covered body, very near nudity:
•Women making out and putting their hands under each others' underwear:
•Exposed butts, near-exposed breasts:
•Straight man butt shots: