Skip to main content

LGBT+ Streamers disappointed with Twitch's Pride Month support

"We owe it to them to find a way to give them that shining light," Twitch responds.

LGBT+ Twitch streamers who took part in the platform's Pride Month celebration are disappointed by the lack of support, but the company is looking to improve in future.

Twitch created a team of LGBT+ streamers from the UK and Ireland who were added to a specific Pride Month "shelf" on the front page during the month of June, though this was located beneath other recommendation feeds and lacked promotion on social media.

Speaking to Eurogamer at TwitchCon Paris, members of this team stated it wasn't beneficial and would like to see Twitch improve its support for LGBT+ streamers not just during Pride Month but throughout the year.

Newscast: This week's biggest headlines from the FTC vs Microsoft.Watch on YouTube

"I wasn't expecting much because it was my first one," said Twitch Partner Warwick. "I was mainly just wanting to be seen and supported in what I do to make sure that my Pride was the best it can be. It was nice just being recognised and being part of it."

However, they didn't see an uptick in viewership throughout the month despite being part of the campaign. Twitch Ambassador ReadySetBen also didn't see an increase in viewership.

"Truth be told it was very disappointing, it was lacklustre in comparison to some of the previous ones," he said. Previous years have included billboards and bigger social media campaigns. "This year, you were there but you were underneath other shelves, you had to find queer people. You did appear on recommended shelves, but it's always people you already follow. It's so hard to find new creators with that."

Twitch Ambassador Ebonix was part of the team but lacked the motivation to fully commit. "What is being on the front page going to do?" she said. "Yes a front page slot is nice, but what [is Twitch] actually doing to create a safe space?"

Ebonix stated the lack of support mirrored other specialty months like Black History Month and Women's History Month, and would like to see better support throughout the year.

"The tokenistic months, the special months where that's the only time when companies decide they want to boost a certain demographic - this effort really needs to be incorporated throughout the year," she said. "If you're constantly visible on the platform I don't think there would be as much directed hate.

"There's so much energy geared towards [these months], that's when the hate starts gearing up because they start gearing up for it as much as we're gearing up for it."

Psyche, another Twitch Ambassador, did note that being part of the team was beneficial as a networking opportunity.

"I noticed new queer streamers who were involved in the campaign stopped into my stream and said hi, so that was a nice networking opportunity to make new friends and meet new people," she said. "I did feel like it petered out a little bit towards the end of the month."

Psyche said the team could be utilised and promoted more as Twitch viewers wouldn't necessarily go to the team page unless they already knew it existed. ReadySetBen further suggested billboards could be reintroduced, as well as using the Twitch blog to interview streamers and allowing all team members a shot at a front page slot.

All the streamers agreed the shelf was simply too low down on the homepage, beneath other recommendations, which impacted visibility.

"If they want to support Pride Month, they need to make it front and centre," said Warwick. "I feel like Twitch wants to support but they feel like that if they put it front and centre then they will get more of a backlash.

"I feel like they should change their outlook and change the front page and go 'this is what we're supporting, if you don't like it this isn't a platform for you'. Maybe there's a part there where they don't want to lose potential viewers but are they the viewers that we want supporting these communities?"

Warwick did praise the safety features, while Psyche said Twitch is "doing more than they ever have before". ReadySetBen said Twitch is "consistently learning" and admitted the size of the platform can make support difficult.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Twitch director of community marketing and production Mary Kish admitted the company hasn't always got it right during Pride Month. In previous years, a front page slot made streamers "feel like a star" but only for one day instead of the month.

"We had a huge challenge to solve, which was how do we do this at scale a little bit more and allow more people to feel that value of what Pride is and see that reflected in the community," she said.

However, she acknowledged Twitch had then added too many streamers to the shelf, meaning creators didn't see the influx of traffic they expected.

"We over indexed," she said. "We are still learning and adapting the shelf to see what is the key amount of creators that will allow everybody to see an influx in their traffic, their follows, their subs, while also ensuring that we're doing this at scale.

"We have to solve for the amount of people that want to be participating in Pride. So, if the shelf isn't sufficient, we need to find additional ways for creators to feel special during this month. It is an honour and a privilege that so many LGBT+ people have found a home on Twitch, we owe it to them to find a way to give them that shining light."

Kish has received feedback from streamers to raise the visibility of the Pride Month shelf on the front page, something that is possible - technically at least.

"Yes, the site can change. We can move everything around," she said. "I think that the question is how are we weighing the value of ensuring these months are genuinely uplifted and cared about with the user experience as well.

"When you're talking about supporting marginalised communities, that means uplifting them in spaces that they weren't typically at. And that does mean taking risk."

Kish has also received feedback on the need to support LGBT+ streamers throughout the year and is hopeful that Twitch's new guild communities can incorporate this. At present, Twitch has three community-led guilds focused on Black creators, Hispanic creators, and a women guild - all of which are pilot programmes.

"I would love to have so many more guilds," said Kish, who explained streamers should fill out the Twitch streamer survey so demographics are visible to the company. "I would really, really, really like to have a LGBT+ guild. And I've been asked a lot by creators, they would like to see a disabled creators guild and so that's something that I would like to shoot for in the future. That's important to me."

Of course, Twitch isn't the only company criticised for solely supporting the LGBT+ community during Pride Month.

As Ebonix said: "Talking is fine but I need to see so much more action from a lot more companies when it comes to targeted support and putting your money where your mouth is and actually affecting proper change."

Said Psyche: "I would really like to see more, and that goes across the board from all companies. I want to see more because realistically queer people face a bigger hurdle when trying to grow their communities, because you're having to deal with harassment, you're having to deal with people who aren't interested in being part of your community so your growth is slower."

Despite disappointment in Pride this year, it's clear from Kish that Twitch is listening and seeking to improve. And in a time when LGBT+ rights are threatened more than ever, it's incredibly important to queer streamers to have their voices heard.

Read this next