MS: Xbox Live Fort Gay ban "a mistake"

Didn't realise it was a place.

Microsoft has been caught out for misguidedly banning an Xbox Live user who declared he came from "fort gay WV" - a real place.

"At first I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I was mad," Josh Moore, 26, told the Associated Press. "... It makes me feel like they hate gay people."

"I'm not even gay," he added, "and it makes me feel like they were discriminating."

Moore tried to explain to an MS customer service rep that "fort gay WV" was a small community of around 800 people in Wayne County, along West Virginia's western border with Kentucky. But his pleas fell on deaf ears, and he was warned that if he put the location back on his profile he'd be kicked off Xbox Live and forfeit his membership fee.

Even the Fort Gay mayor, David Thompson, got involved. But he was told the place name didn't matter, because use of the word "gay" was inappropriate in any context.

"It was so inappropriate for them," he said, "they wouldn't even say the word. They said, 'that word'.

"It's beyond me. That's the name of our town! It's appalling. It's a slap in our face."

Eventually, chief of Xbox Live police Stephen Toulouse was alerted and the case rectified. He blamed miscommunication.

"Someone took the phrase 'fort gay WV' and believed that the individual who had that was trying to offend, or trying to use it in a pejorative manner," Toulouse explained. "Unfortunately, one of my people agreed with that. ... When it was brought to my attention, we did revoke the suspension."

"In this very, very specific case, a mistake was made," he conceded, "and we're going to make it right."

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Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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