FaZe clan fans gather around a member who dismisses their Gay Pride post

FaZe clan fans gather around a member who dismisses their Gay Pride post

The FaZe Clan logo is in rainbow colors and sits in front of a red and black patterned background.

Picture: FaZe Clan / Kotaku

FaZe Clan is one of them biggest names in gaming. The group of professional influencers counts Pitbull among its investors and collaborators Snoop Dog. Its CEO has described it as “Dallas Cowboys Meets Supreme Meets MTV.” And at the moment, its social media mentions are a full-blown cultural war when fans defend a screenshot of one of its members dismissing the company’s recent Pride Month support for the LGBTQ + community.

“Happy Pride Month!” FaZe clan tweeted on June 1st along with a rainbow-colored version of the group’s logo. “Sends love to our LGBTQ + friends, family and community.” Some fans immediately cheered on the emotions, but many others downplayed it and shared emotions that ranged from “Another L from FaZe Clan” to more explicit homophobia.

It went even further after FaZe member Talal “Virus” Almalki pointed out that he did not agree with the clan’s Pride statement. “Just to clarify that I do not support any form of LGBTQ or anything like that even if ‘FaZe’ does,” he wrote in a now deleted quote tweet. “I am a Muslim.”

Almalki is a top class Call of Duty players with over a million subscribers on YouTube. He is also FaZe’s first signature in Saudi Arabia, a country that has a long history of human rights abuses and is criminalized for being gay.

There are of course plenty of self-identifying Muslims who support LGBTQ+ rights, just as there are many self-identifying Christians who do, but that didn’t stop lots of FaZe clans from latching onto screenshots of Almalki’s post to defend him.

FaZe Virus disavows Pride Month post.

Screenshot: Twitter / Kotaku

“WTF is this?” one person referencing Almalki’s comment asked FaZe Clan’s account. “I don’t agree with how he went about it, but it’s his religion and we have to respect it just like people apart of the lgbtq community should be respected,” another replied.

This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who follows gaming, including the messy fandoms cultivated by its biggest influencers. But it makes even the most mealy-mouthed show of support for things like Pride Month ring hollow when the influencers then stay silent on the antipathy generated and shared by their own fans.

Whether it’s ambient racism in the Twitch chat, or homophobia in the Twitter comments, silence can be interpreted as complicity. How else to explain why so many apparent FaZe Clan supporters were surprised by its Pride tweet to begin with?

Over a day later, there’s still no follow-up comment by either FaZe Clan or Almalki. Some FaZe fans are even accusing the former of censoring the latter. Almalki did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Kotaku. FaZe Clan declined to comment but did not contest the veracity of Almalki’s deleted tweet.

FaZe Clan is no stranger to controversy. A year ago it had to exile one member and suspend others when an alleged crypto system that they operated broke down. But the group has always strived to be more than just internet celebrities who are having a bad day away from a hot gamer moment.

In October last year, the FaZe Clan announced its plan to ride the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) all the way to becoming a $ 1 billion listed company. The deal was intended closed during the first half of 2022. It’s now June and the FaZe Clan is still not trading on the NASDAQ, while SPAC hype hugs. The group has until February 2023 to complete the deal before it falls through and the money goes back to the investors.

Correction: 6/3/22, 15:06 ET: Clarified the role of Snoop Dog in the FaZe Clan and removed the mention of Drake as an investor, who is only indirectly involved through NTWRK.

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