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"Post-Queer" - Elf M. Sternberg
Much to my deep sadness, Bad Dragon has chosen to close its forums. I'm not going to comment on the decision; I'm angry about it, but it is their decision to make. The upsell market is going to suffer badly for it; one of the biggest sports on the website was cheering people on as they bought bigger and prettier and better qualities toys. But one of the reasons I am upset is that, as I put it to a friend of mine the other day, "Bad Dragon is post-queer like no other site on the Internet, and the world will be a smaller, sadder place without it."

By "post-queer" I don't mean that suddenly queer theory needs to go away, or that all the homophobia in the world has been conquered. But Bad Dragon's forums were made up of straights, gays, pans, asexuals, and just about everything you can possibly imagine, and nobody fucking cared. The website was full of furries, at maximum count 20 thousand of them, almost one-third women, whose main hobby was collecting oversized luxury silicone dildos of fantasy creatures like dragons, gryphons, were-tigers and every possible man/beast hybrid you could possibly imagine.

Compared to that, the ordinary issues of "You want to fuck who‽" were so irrelevant it was laughable. This was a community dedicated to saying, "You want to shove something how big up where? Cool! How can we help you do it safely?" This was a science-fiction world of body modification, self-experimentation, sensory and physical extremism that actually existed for a brief time. Friendships and romances existed there in which the bodies involved really were souls incarnate rather than various catalogs of socially categorized body parts united in socially approved ways.

Sure, a non-trivial portion of the population had latched onto toying as a solution to their real-world sexual and socialization failure modes. Even there, the forums were helping; when you have a hobby that weird, having face-to-face public meetings with people who share it, and seeing that they're real people just like you, was a big help to many of them. And sure, many of them were twenty-somethings still dependent upon their families for support as they made their ways through life and school, and many of them were terrified a parent would find out about their sexual orientation or their hobby. But on the forums, they could be themselves safely. They could arrange to meet other fans safely, and they often did. Advice on how to meet safely, negotiate for what you want, all the consent and care stuff that practical queerdom emphasizes, Bad Dragon was about with compassion to spare.

There aren't any real alternatives. (Don't get me started on Fetlife. Fetlife is a closet, and a deep, dark, unpleasant one in many ways, mostly for heterosexuals with a burning urge to talk a filthy talk. The nurturing cameraderie, the us-against-the-world-in-public friendliness, that Bad Dragon emphasized cannot reliably be found there.) Bad Dragon was post-queer in the best way possible. I hope someday to stumble upon another forum just as interesting, but I don't expect to find it very soon.
4 comments or Leave a comment
shockwave77598 From: shockwave77598 Date: August 7th, 2014 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
And why is he closing the forums? Sounds like the rosy picture you paint is simply going on top of some problem deeper down.
elfs From: elfs Date: August 7th, 2014 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't want to overstate the success of the place. Managing to overcome one classic forum failure mode (some folks having screaming heebie jeebies about others' sexual orientations and the like) is a huge win, but there were other problems. The openness of the forum opened up liability issues with minors and exposure to adult material; a lively trade in "previously owned" toys likewise had issues with missed or neglected payments, misstatements of toy quality and cleanliness (ick!) and so forth and so on.

But I want to emphasize that every single one of these problems is alive and well on other adult forums. The most popular of which are locked down behind a robots.txt file to keep the world from peeking in without signing up (and therefore signing a EULA exonerating site operators from injury-by-exposure and all other misdeeds by users), and explicitly ban users who raise issues of active predation and abuse by other users. Saying "User X is an icky son-of-a-bitch whose sexist, manipulative and aggressive behavior toward a series of partners in real life makes a lot of people uncomfortable but doesn't rise to the level of actionable illegality, but you should still stay away," is pretty much the fastest way to get banned from most "adult" forums.

Bad Dragon's post-queer nature was a bonus, a first-of-its-kind world, a way of bringing Second Life's surreality into this world for all to see, hear and touch. It could have chosen to manage its forums, and even turn them into a profit center of some sort, but instead chose to go the other way and abandon the effort entirely. And that's why I'm sad.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: August 14th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've presumably seen that they're not closing?

I thoroughly agree about the safety issue around places not wanting to have warnings about identifiable individuals.
nyssasemephit From: nyssasemephit Date: August 15th, 2014 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
4 comments or Leave a comment