I’m back from a long day at Spring Coronation, and by and large it was a good day. I didn’t armor up for two reasons: one, I’m not a fan of the “bear pit tournament” and two, my armour is currently undergoing a refit to give me a “tournament kit” as well as a “war kit”. And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t fight. I find that when I go to a single-day event and fight, all I do is fight. Sounds obvious, right? I spent yesterday hanging out, checking in with people, talking with friends and generally relaxing; it’s been a long time since I’ve been to an event where I didn’t have specific responsibilities that had to be dealt with. It was nice just to do things at my own pace.
Also, and this was rather gratifying, several people mentioned that they were enjoying the new blog.
This morning via Facebook I was given the heads’ up about a new forum that I might be interested in” SCA Historic Combat, a group dedicated to discussing and applying Historic European Martial Arts to SCA fighting. And yes, I am interested in that; very much so. And even better — it’s just starting out so I have the opportunity to contribute from day one and not get a lot of responses like “Oh there was a discussion of that that out in 2003, or maybe 2004, in September or October or maybe June, so just search that topic and read what we said.” So I created a quick account, posted a quick note about who I am and want I wanted out of this project, and then did a quick peruse through the small number of posts that have already been added. And found that something was missing.
So I added a post of my own about Conduct and Respect on the forum and I was pretty nervous about doing it:
I’m excited to find that there are other people out there with an interest in applying historical combat techniques to the somewhat ahistorical practices of SCA heavy combat, and I’m even more excited to get involved with this project while it’s still relatively new.
However, I’ve had some very bad experiences at other forums, particularly The Armour Archive, with other posters using abusive and inappropriate language. Specifically with posters who use homophobic and sexist terms, and who turn abusive when asked to stop. I actually quit The Armour Archive forums after a month of harassment and abuse by several posters who decided my “gay agenda” wasn’t welcome there — and for the record, I’m not gay, I’m bi, and my “agenda” consisted entirely of asking one gentleman to stop referring to combat archers as “faggots.”
In the context of these forums I genuinely don’t care what anyone’s real-world political or religious opinions are, or what their lifestyle is, or even what music they enjoy; I care about learning how to improve my swordsmanship and teaching others to do the same. And I hope we can do that without anyone being made to feel like shit.
I’d like to say “it goes without saying that we’re all going to be respectful” but my experience on various forums is that it does need to be said… and then enforced by the moderators.
Now, let’s be clear: The new forum has been up for less than a week, and no one has made even the slightest indication of inappropriate language or attitudes. So why did I post this? Why, one might ask, am I rocking the boat in the absence of any actual waves?
And the only answer I can give is this: Let’s get it out of the way. I’ve been burned, and burned badly, by homophobia in the reenactment community before. Last year on The Armour Archive where somebody was throwing around homophobic terminology on the “Chivalry” list; specifically bitching about “fucking gay combat archery faggots.” I PM’d the gentleman asking that he please not use “gay” as a pejorative term. He blew up at me and messaged back a heap of shit about how fags were unwelcome in the SCA and maybe I should just fuck off and I’d better not cross his path in armor, etc. It was, in the context of queer-bashing bullshit, a pretty minor incident… until other people started messaging me. The original asshole must have shared my PM with some of his buddies, because I got a couple of other PMs from other Archive users letting me know that my “gay agenda” was not welcome on the Armour Archive or, in fact, in the SCA. I was specifically told that I didn’t want that reputation because “Fags don’t get Knighted” and that if I didn’t like it, I could leave.
Remember: My “gay agenda” to this point had consisted entirely of a polite — and private! — message requesting simply that someone not use “gay” as a negative adjective.
So I snapped and I quit the AA because fuck those guys. Combined with a bunch of other drama that happened on the boards at the same time I was actually happy to go and frankly, I wasn’t learning much about chivalry from the so-called “Chivalry Discussion Board” anyway. It was something of a catalyst for me to start upping my game, partly to distract myself from the bullshit and partly to prove that I’m better than them, and a year and a half down the road I’ve chalked it up to experience and moved on… right?
Well, not as much as you’d think. It really upset me, and it’s stayed with me, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my rather outspoken advocacy of Inspirational Equality in the SCA has its roots in that jerk’s original response. So, now that the opportunity has arisen to get involved in a new online forum with a stated goal of improving the SCA, I’ve forced the issue from day one because I simply don’t have the time, patience or space in my life to get involved in a project that’s going to make me feel like I have to swallow my pride, or keep quiet about who I am, or “grow a thicker skin” and accept whatever hateful language that gets thrown around. If this new forum is going to be an environment where homophobic and sexist language is going to be tolerated — or worse, encouraged! — then I need to know now, today, so I can delete my account and move on to things that matter.
But I really, really hope I don’t have to, because I genuinely want to be part of a community that aims to improve the historical accuracy of SCA combat. I want that because I think the SCA’s combat system needs improvement and because I can contribute to that improvement in a meaningful way.
But mostly I want it because I’m sick and tired of being on the outside looking in… and not just when it comes to being a fighter in the SCA.