A story of friendship, found family, flags, and fish
June is Pride Month, but here on Minecraft.net, we're still celebrating the wonderful LGBTQ+ community, celebrating yourselves, recognising how far we've come, and building a 25-foot tall pride flag full of fish. What was that last one, you say? Ah, that's how me and my friends celebrated on our server, of course!
My friends and I met in a Minecraft server run by a streamer we all liked to watch. While building our houses around the central community area, we quickly realised that we had a lot in common, and built up our friendship through resource sharing and collaborative projects... and occasionally, trying to wrangle foxes and polar bears that really didn't want to be wrangled into being our pets.
Since many of our server members were part of the LGBTQ+ community, one of the first and most important things we built in our shared village was a giant waving Pride flag above the central building, made out of wool. We should probably have been saving that wool for beds, but no – the flag was more important than sleep! A few months later, we built a new server (mostly just so we could start fresh, for fun), and this one had an even BIGGER Pride flag, which took a couple of us an entire afternoon to figure out. We ended up settling on a huge glass box made of rainbow-coloured glass, filled with fish in the Pride flag colours. It floated about 50 feet up in the air, and cast a beautiful rainbow-shadow when the sun shone through it.
"Minecraft servers tend to reflect the communities they start in," says one of my server pals, Tuckiozi, a non-binary pansexual. "I feel like the big rainbow flag... kinda highlights what Minecraft brings to that equation, because you are literally shaping a landscape." Redbird – a non-binary friend who built an entire tundra village with me – agrees: "I definitely think the important thing that happened in our server... is that being queer was not just accepted, but kind of celebrated?"
The gaming and online world includes a lot of unfriendly spaces where different communities, including LGBTQIA+ individuals, don't feel welcome. Lyra, a trans-femme non-binary person who was one of the flag builders on our server told me, "I feel unsafe expressing myself in a proudly queer and trans fashion in non-queer spaces. But online communities, especially well moderated ones, present a safe space for queer and gender non-conforming people."
Minecraft also allows you to craft your online persona, which is a big part of discovering or exploring your identity. "The text communication built into games like Minecraft allow players to present themselves however they wish, without having to worry about how much their voice might "pass"," says C, a demigirl friend who picked up Minecraft for the first time to join us. "The anonymity of online games has truly helped in that regard."
We wanted to create one of those safe spaces – a place where you know you're welcome the second you spawn into our brightly-coloured base. Of course, it's not just Minecraft that helps people discover themselves and be true to their own identity. Many online games will let you customise your character and your surroundings to represent yourself as you want to be seen by others – and surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are.
Through Minecraft, I managed to find a wholesome and welcoming LGBTQ+ community, and a group of friends to adventure the world with – plus a whole lot of fish. For those of you reading this who feel alone, left out, or confused, I promise: you will find your community some day, too.