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Kimberly (Introduction): Hey there listeners, it's Kimberly. I'm here with a couple of content warnings: first of all, this episode contains a re claimed homophobic slur which starts with the letter Q. Also this episode is about the LGBTQIA+ community: All of us are imperfect, we all carry some internalized bias that were unaware of. I have done my best to be as inclusive as possible with this episode but it is basically guaranteed that I've made some mistakes. So if you'd like to correct or criticize something please email me at email@example.com. Thank you for understanding that I am acting in good faith. And now, on to the episode!
Kimberly: Hello listeners, you are listening to Take Me Out to the Blall Game, the world's most historically accurate blaseball podcast. I'm your host Kimberly Dauber, and I use She/her pronouns. October is LGBTQIA+ History Month, so today we're going to do an episode about blaseball and this community. But first, a word from our splonsors.
Kimberly (Splonsorship Segment): Today's episode was splonsored by Blaseball Cares. Happy LGBT History Month, blaseballers! At Blaseball Cares, we believe that blaseball is for everyone. We're happy to announce we soon will have a special line of pride stickers representing each and every team in blaseball, with proceeds going to the charity Rainbow Railroad. Stay proud and see you soon at blaseballcares.com.
Kimberly: Hello listeners, we're back. You're listening to Take Me Out to the Blall Game and this is our October LGBTQIA+ History Month special. So as I have said, October is LGBTQIA+ History Month and I wanted to do something special for it, since there are so many queer shenanigans going on in blaseball. So I performed a simple summoning ritual to bring together all sorts of blaseball fans within the community who could tell me what they thought about blaseball and their identities. I asked a whole bunch of questions and I'm going to share each of them with you.
Okay so first question: I wanted to understand the nature of gay blaseball, so I requested that fans summarize the queerness of blaseball. Here is what they said:
Fan #1: The queerness of blaseball is free, open, and covered in blood. And possibly flickering.
Fan #2: The queerness of blaseball is inherent and essential.
Fan #3: Uh, it's all about the vibes, my dude? We are all the queer.
Fan #4: Blaseball is flaming. And not just because of incinerations.
Fan #5: The queerness of blaseball is community lead, developer endorsed representation everywhere.
Fan #6: Blaseball is sports queered - from its insistence on the validity of a multitude of canonical readings, to its embrace and reclamation of monstrousness, to its emphasis on chosen family and intentional community building both within the lore and the fan base itself. Blaseball is queer to its core.
Fan #7: It's so queer, it makes rainbows jealous.
Fan #8: We could have imagined these characters as anything, so we imagined them as everything.
Fan #9: Spite the gods. Forge your own path.
Fan #10: Buff ladies, chaotic thembos, monsters and robots? Oh my!
Fan #11: The "L" in "splorts" stands for "lesbian."
Fan #12: Claws up for trans rights!
Fan #13: Blaseball helped me get excited for something for the first time in months and honestly, it's a queer icon for having done that.
Fan #14: The queerness of blaseball is the process of exploring the space of gender identities.
Fan #15: You got your neopronouns, your wlws (pronounced woolahwoos), your M&Ms, trans folk, and everything in between.
Fan #16: Gender? For the Spies? That's redacted information my friend.
Fan #17: Be gay, be kind, play ball.
Kimberly: Okay so blaseball's like... pretty gay. But I was still wondering, with our powers combined could we make blaseball even gayer? So I asked "How could we make blaseball gayer? Wrong answers only." And the responses were pretty great. Here they are:
Fan #1: We all commit crimes.
Fan #2: Procedurally generated ship fics.
Fan #3: Let. The Teams. Kiss.
Fan #4: Let the umps kiss!
Fan #5: Make Laura Dern an umpire.
Fan #6: Replace all instances of peanut with penis.
Fan #7: Stadium seats that accommodate bisexual sitting. You know the kind.
Fan #8: Umpires incinerate gender and not players.
Fan #9: Replace the star ratings with pride flags!
Fan #10: Potion of trans-your-gender as a voting option.
Fan #11: Remember the Wyatt Masoning? Slap the word "gay" somewhere in every player's name.
Fan #12: Glitter. Weather.
Fan #13: Please give the Shoe Thieves more lesbians, we keep losing them.
Fan #14: Just keep writing more numbers on the knob and keep just cranking it up!
Kimberly: (laughter) Glitter weather, I love it. I love it so much. Okay... so I think being silly together is an important part of community building, but I think that being a serious together is important too. So coming up, I'm going to share some thoughts about how we can keep our community healthy. We'll be right back with that after this break.
Kimberly (Intermission): Today's episode of Take Me Out to the Blallgame was brought to you by...
(Music starts playing)
Well, me, actually. This is an ad for me, Kimberly Dauber, a blaseball in the sky with a microphone. This is a thirty second ad spot for me to make space for my specific sexual and gender identities. Okay here's the list: I'm bisexual and for me that means attracted to two or more genders, or really any gender. You can call me polysexual or pansexual if you want to as well. I'm also genderfluid, usually i'm a girl since I've been practicing that one the longest. But sometimes i'm a boy? Or I want to be treated like a boy? And sometimes, I'm something else that I haven't figured out yet. This makes me part of the nonbinary and trans communities, and I still use She/her pronouns. Finally, this blaseball is non-monogamous. Is that even a quote unquote "sexuality?" I am not sure, but I thought you might like to know anyway. So there it is. Okay that's it, for now anyway, stay tuned for further updates because identities can change. Thanks for listening and now back to the episode.
(Music fades away)
Kimberly: Welcome back listeners, we now return to Take Me Out to the Blall Game, where the word of the day is "be gay do blaseball crimes." So, I can tell from these responses that people clearly love the blaseball community for how queer it is. Still we have to remember that it takes work to keep it that way. So I invite you to do some of that work with me for the next few minutes, okay? Let's go.
I think it's fair to say that internet communities like ours carry a high risk of conflict, the destructive harmful kind of conflict. But, I also think that we can help by frequently thinking about how we can find new ways to keep each other safe. So in the survey, I asked: "How should we make blaseball gayer? Constructive answers only." I'm about to share the responses, but before I do you may hear some critiques that feel like they are directed at you. And you may find yourself feeling defensive or guilty. If you notice this happening, I invite you to try the following: first acknowledge your feelings of defensiveness or guilt and thank them for protecting you and your loved ones. Next, let those feelings go. You are safe here. You don't need those feelings anymore. Finally, approach the critique once again, but this time with curiosity. Again that's: acknowledge and thank your feelings, then let them go, and finally let yourself be curious. Okay? Alright, I think we're ready, so here we go.
First, some comments that are directed at mostly The Game Band or Discord moderators.
Fan #1: I want every team to have a modified pride flag emoji.
Fan #2: Discourage discourse on the main server. It's too cramped and loud for productive discourse. Encourage putting pronouns in nicknames. Encourage community leaders to push inclusivity.
Fan #3: Consideration, re: incinerations. Because people project so much queerness into blaseball, the constant queer deaths make for some emotional pains for people who get deeply invested.
Fan #4: I believe a definite list of pronouns for players would be good. The arguments against this is, of course, there is no set canon for baseball and to do so is to remove the possibility for interpretation. However, as a user of neopronouns, I can definitely see a situation where someone does not use... say, ze/zir for a player the wider community has decided uses. Because they do not understand or agree with neopronouns, under the guise of narrative independence. I don't think there's an easy solution for this I'm honest.
Kimberly: Okay, Kimberly again. Next, there were a whole bunch of comments for the community about representation. So here are a whole bunch of those.
Fan #1: I would like to see more trans masculine characters, tbh. And not just fem-presenting or soft boy kind of trans-masc. I want trans-masc bears or nonbinary trans masculine hunks. We exist in different flavors, and it would be nice to see more homosexual trans masculine people.
Fan #2: So my answer for "How should we make blaseball gayer" is that, um... I've only really seen the Flowers using neopronouns for a lot of the new players. And while the diversity in the rest of the league is really incredible, there's a lot of room for expansion. Having players use neopronouns on my team in blaseball has been great practice for doing stuff like that in real life and I think every other team should have that experience.
Fan #3: I would really love to see some Southeast Asian Muslim queer players.
Fan #4: I feel that more body positivity should be included. Among the human and human-like players there's very little body diversity. Like, imagine your body type being less represented than beings that don't exist.
Fan #5: I have noticed that there aren't many outright bisexual, asexual, aromantic or pansexual players in the game. It doesn't hurt to have some more emphasis in these sexualities, due to how little they're represented in media in general.
Fan #6: It'd be nice to see more blaseball characters who have established outside families. I understand that this could make events such as incineration worse, but seeing more established happy queer families or older queer characters would be nice.
Fan #7: I think the biggest room I see for improvement is in the way that trans and non binary identity is handled for character portrayals. Oftentimes it feels like there's a lot of non binary representation, but a distinct lack of characters that break binary norms for presentation. Same goes for trans characters. I'd like to see more takes on characters that take into account that not everyone has to pass. Or that not every non binary person has to present the same way.
Kimberly: K. Two more sections to go. The next one is also for the community and it's about being more intersectional. Which basically means addressing the fact that homophobia and transphobia exist alongside racism, sexism, ableism, and other isms that don't themselves have to do with gender and sexuality. Here we go.
Fan #1: On the exclusively queer front I can't think of anything. On an intersectional level though, i'm pretty sure the majority of fans i've seen are White. And I do worry that this might mean there's stuff that gets overlooked.
Fan #2: One way to make blaseball gayer is to make sure that we listen to and support each other, always. I think this questionnaire is a great way to make blaseball gayer, as it's giving minorities a platform to talk about their experiences. This kind of thing: liberal use of trigger warnings, asking specifically for black and indigenous voices, and seeking out queer experiences should be more common.
Kimberly: Okay, finally. For the community, these responses are about respecting multiple interpretations of the world of blaseball:
Fan #1: Perhaps making blaseball more of a place of self exploration and storytelling versus a collective and detached story. Also, not enforcing specific pronouns for players. Let people have their own interpretations and be kind when that interpretation doesn't match yours.
Fan #2: Blaseball is quite open ended in terms of individual characters. This means that many interpretations of characters can be valid at one time. We should keep this open endedness, even as the story grows, to keep room for all queer interpretations.
Fan #3: Remember that identity is complicated, and if someone views a character as having a different identity than what you view them as having, that's okay. But also remember to respect different people's views on characters.
Kimberly: All right, thank you for listening with empathetic hearts and curious minds. I am excited to tackle all of these challenges with all of you. All right last segment, we are all love blaseball but today's episode is especially about being LGBTQIA+ and loving blaseball. It is time to close our show by sharing what we are love about being queer blaseball fans. And by the way, there were a lot of survey responses, and these were the hardest ones to pick. You all are so full of love. Okay, here we go:
Fan #1: I pointed a player and screamed "Them!" Everyone screams with me.
Fan #2: It's hard to find things that are truly asexual, but blaseball has players even the most ardent of allos would have trouble sexualizing. That really helps me feel like I have a place here, when in many other fan spaces I have to smile and nod, and accept that I just don't understand a big part of what others seem to view as the fan experience.
Fan #3: I'm in good company and the blaseball community listens and respects each other more than any of the fan community I've ever been in.
Fan #4: Being non binary is just kinda normal, and that's weird and new and wonderful.
Fan #5: I've never felt so absolutely welcome and in the right place as I do here with so many other nonbinary people. I really don't have that many in my life, and to be so close and so connected with so many others is just the most incredible feeling.
Fan #6: I feel very seen by blaseball. I've never been a sports person, like at all. And it feels like blaseball saw that and was like: "Okay, so what if we took all of the stuff about sports that actually resonates with you, and then added liberal amounts of queerness and absurded them?" Which, it turns out, is a really powerful recipe.
Fan #7: This is a splort that my fiance and I feel safe participating in. Sometimes, actually going out to the stadium holding hands feels dangerous.
Fan #8: Poly representation! Jessica Telephone for the win!
Fan #9: The Telephone twins remind me of my relationship with my sister. She's the cis Jessica to my trans Sebastian, but I love that I can see and relate to that.
Fan #10: I love seeing all the diversity that we give the characters. I've seen characters with head coverings, different body types, people of color, and every flavor of LGBT. This has all been done because we, the fans, want to. There's so much left up to the imagination for the characters and we have chosen to give them the diversity that we deserve. And as someone that's pan and poly and nonbinary, this makes me incredibly happy.
Fan #11: Hiroto "Ace 'Ace in the Hole' in the Hole" Wilcox gives me life.
Fan #12: I love that the Jazz Hands team chat has a pinned post about the pronouns of each player and they vary widely. There's a lot of They/them players, but there's also ***/*** .
Fan #13: I think often about this description for Comfort Septemberish. "When asked about gender, just said 'the snack that smiles back.' Is fine with people using They/them." It's very much in line with the culture of trans people I know IRL, which is beautiful to stumble upon in some internet baseball simulator.
Fan #14: That I can openly be a trans woman in fandom spaces, and no one blinks.
Fan #15: I love seeing so many characters interpreted as nonbinary lesbians in particular. As a nonbinary lesbian myself, it's something I don't often see in media. To see so many in blaseball is part of what interested me about it in the first place.
Fan #16: The community is so lovely and accepting of queer people! I especially love the "Trans Rights!" call outs!
Fan #17: What I love about being a queer blaseball fan is the sense of community. It's wonderful to go into the various blaseball related discords. So for me that's Wild Low Clubhouse, or The Garden, or the Official Blaseball Discord. And see and talk to queer people, who I know in real life I would never have been able to meet. As well as talking about players who use neopronouns or multiple sets of pronouns. It's just wonderful, the community that's been created.
Fan #18: (sounds of contented humming) Girls!
Fan #19: There was no adjustment period when I joined the community, where I felt I needed to explain myself and allow people time to adapt to my new pronouns or my name. It just was, and that was amazing.
Kimberly: (happy sounds) I am just love it. We are love feeling welcome. We are love not having to explain ourselves. We are love seeing ourselves represented. We are love each other and so much more. It is beautiful. Well, that is all for today listeners. You've been listening to Take Me Out to the Blallgame. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this episode. Please remember to subscribe to the show wherever podcasts are found, follow us on Twitter at @blaseball_pod and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send in a question, dedicate a soul scream, or suggest something we should interview you about. And if you know anyone else who would enjoy this podcast, do them a favor and tell them about it. I bet they'll be glad you did. I am Kimberly Dauber, thank you for joining us on Take Me Out to the Blallgame, and thank you for participating in the cultural event of blaseball.
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Transcribed by Jossar.