Fort Gay, WV resident's Xbox Live gamertag blocked
Microsoft apologizes to resident of 800-person town after his online handle was ruled in violation of online service's code of conduct.
Josh Moore is 26 years old and an unemployed industrial laborer. As a result, he has a lot of time to play games on Xbox Live. According to an Associated Press report (via CBS), he logged dozens of hours playing Call of Duty and Ghost Recon titles under the handle "Joshanboo" while looking for his next job.
Or at least, he did.
Recently, a member of Xbox Live's compliance team noticed that Moore was listing his hometown as "Fort Gay, WV" on his online profile. The compliance officer flagged his account for code of conduct violation, presuming the name was intended as a homophobic slur of some sort.
There was a slight problem, though. Fort Gay is a real town of 800 people in West Virginia near the Kentucky border that was founded way back in 1789. Moore did his best to convince the Xbox Live customer support team members of that fact but found them unresponsive.
Said Moore, who is straight, "At first I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I was mad. … It makes me feel like they hate gay people," Moore even offered the town's ZIP code as proof of its existence. "I told him, Google it - 25514! He said, 'I can't help you.'"
Fort Gay mayor David Thompson also tried to assist Moore but received similar treatment. He told the AP that the Xbox Live compliance team would not even say the word "gay." "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."
Once the story began to gain media coverage, Microsoft reversed its position. Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement Stephen Toulouse apologized to Moore and Thompson and had the former's gamertag reinstated. "In this very, very specific case, a mistake was made, and we're going to make it right," he told the AP.
Fort Gay-gate comes just six months after Microsoft allowed gamers to reflect their sexuality in their gamertags, specifically permitting use of the word "gay.". Previously, any reference to homo- or bisexuality--as well as religion or anything else possibly offensive--was verboten in Xbox Live online handles.
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