LiveJournal: The blogging platform that gay sex built

If you have a life, you may be unaware that two days ago, the folks at LiveJournal suddenly deleted a bunch of communities and journals that listed interests in things like incest and pedophilia. This was prompted by complaints from a group called "Warriors for Innocence," whose website I'm not going to link to because there have been entirely unconfirmed reports that it tries to put spyware on your computer. See, we love you and your hard drive here at AfterElton.com.

Well, you might ask, ummmm, yeah. What's the problem? Some of the communities that got deleted really were extremely problematic, and while I'm not a lawyer and do not play one in the blogosphere, I'm pretty sure they violated LJ's Terms of Service big time.

The problem, as it turns out, is that a lot of the deleted communities were actually fandom communities that archive homoerotic fanfiction about fictional characters. And some of those characters are, fictionally speaking, brothers, like Faramir and Boromir from Lord of the Rings.

Some of the fandom communities were also ones that write fanfiction about fictional adolescents, most notably the characters from the Harry Potter books and films. I've never read the books or seen the films, and in fact couldn't pick the characters, or the actors who play them, out of a lineup, but I will say that the main community involved has the best journal name ever, pornish_pixies.

But a lot of the reaction among the users of LiveJournal involved deleting terms like "gay sex" and "slash" from their interests pages. And while it's probably a given that a group called "Warriors for Innocence" is not super-likely to have the best interests of the gays at heart, it's also not far off from the truth to say that without homoerotic fanfiction, LiveJournal would have approximately six users. There wasn't any evidence I could see that the "homo" thing was in play here at all, at least as far as LJ was concerned.

The problem is, of course, that there is a long history of gay literature, art, and film being lumped together with all kinds of societal evils, including pedophilia. We're suspicious of cries to "Protect the Children!" because a lot of the time, the "children" in question were, you know, ours, or young queer kids who were struggling to come out, and what they were being "protected" from was positive images of being queer, or positive queer role models. In other words, not so much with the trust.

So shortly after fandom started marching around the Internets with protest signs, suggesting to LJ that it most likely should rethink whether targeting a Spanish-language book group discussing Nabokov's Lolita and a Harry Potter fanfiction archive were truly the best use of the company's child-abuse prevention strategy resources, LJ got down on bended knee and took it back:

We never intended this policy to cause the removal of journals that were have perfectly valid discussions about literature, law or culture. We never intended the policies to take down journals or communities clearly opposed to illegal activities but clearly we did. We love our members of fandom and respect their role in our community. We made a mistake and now we are going to try to fix it.
That is it. We have always been strong supporters of free speech and at the same time we believe deeply that children deserve special protections as well as the victims of violence and hate. We tried to implement a policy that walk that line and we did it poorly, we are all sorry. One could say that no matter what we did we would either be accused of opposing free speech or endangering children but I am sure we should and could have done this much better. I hope you can forgive us and we can regain your trust.

So, the great fandom walkout of 2007 came to an end, and LiveJournal is once again safe for the gay sex. In celebration, pornish_pixies has eliminated its entire list of interests and replaced it with one line: The internet's for porn. And they're running a challenge for all fiction writers to trot out their best male/male or female/female erotic fanfic, just to make sure no one misses the point.

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