PRIDE and the 405th

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Commanding Officer
Community Staff
Division Staff
You may notice the 405th's social media not containing the Progress flag today and that is due to a difficult decision made by myself and Art to maintain the 405th's brand integrity. The 405th will continue to support PRIDE in as many ways as it can by encouraging individuals to join PRIDE events, hosting PRIDE events, keeping the Rainbow Zone in our Discord, staffing LGBTQ+ members and responding to anti-LGBTQ+ situations within our community promptly when reported. Your Regiment, Battalion and Division Staff are hard at work brainstorming ways to add PRIDE promotions to the 405th in others ways, like featuring photos from PRIDE events that are shared by the Regiments and using hashtags like #SpartanPride. The 405th logo can appear next to other logos such as ExtraLife, or Make a Wish etc. when we are in collaboration with them. However, we will no longer be putting our logo over top of logos that are not 405th or Halo related like we have the last couple years. It should be noted that many of the 405th staff at the Battalion, Regiment and Division levels advocated very hard for this change to not happen. We all hope that our members will see us through this change to find that our core values have not changed nor has our support for our vibrant LGBTQ+ community waivered.

Thank you for your understanding.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I interpreted this as "openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community is in direct conflict with the brand's integrity." Despite what was said in this post, this does not make me feel supported or welcome as a queer person. I'm sure I'm not the only one, either.
Personally - I can see the way Fangs bent over backwards to say seven ways from Sunday that the 405th supports *all* of its members regardless of their self-view or self-identity. Pretty sure there's several statements about how the organization supports the LGBTQ+ community and the NON-LGBTQ+ community equally. Seems that's the very definition of equality.

The decision states:
However, we will no longer be putting our logo over top of logos that are not 405th or Halo related like we have the last couple years.
It doesn't say "We'll put it on top of breast cancer awareness, but not LGBTQ+". It doesn't say "We'll put it on a rainbow but we won't give equal time to the black/white SIS banner." It doesn't say "We'll put it on camo to support military suicide awareness, but not Pride colors." They said basically, nobody is getting preferential treatment at the expense of someone else that doesn't get equal representation. What could be more fair than that?

Its pretty clear that a decision of true equality was made where it becomes nearly impossible to find a demographic that doesn't demands equal representation. Right now you have everyone from pro-gay to pro-SIS... from pro-Iran to pro-Palestinian trying to strong arm every organization they are associated with into flying their flag. Where does it end? Where is the line drawn for who is represented and who isn't? Who makes those calls?

Give the brass a break. Nobody said they were anti-anyone. Just don't go there. Don't read between lines that don't exist. Don't go looking for a fight and you won't find one behind every corner, whether it was there or not.

When I boil down the decision, the statement and what I think the sentiment behind it was I'm left hearing this. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm wrong about this being the group management stance... well... I hope I'm not wrong that this is the outlook of our leadership.
"Here is our logo. It stands for EVERYONE just the way it is. And as it stands for everyone already there's no need to change it for every group or every specialty month because those groups and those months are already included as part of `everyone`. "
They said basically, nobody is getting preferential treatment at the expense of someone else that doesn't get equal representation. What could be more fair than that?

Its pretty clear that a decision of true equality was made where it becomes nearly impossible to find a demographic that doesn't demands equal representation. Right now you have everyone from pro-gay to pro-SIS... from pro-Iran to pro-Palestinian trying to strong arm every organization they are associated with into flying their flag. Where does it end? Where is the line drawn for who is represented and who isn't? Who makes those calls?

Just a heads up that "No Politics" is a universal 405th thing. So there is your easy first line to draw on "where does it end?"
I'm curious what pro-SIS means to you, however based on the other examples you provided, you probably shouldn't elaborate on it here.

You call it preferential treatment?
What "expense" is being paid by others?

You say we're looking for a fight that isn't there, but how was brand integrity being challenged over the past 3 years? What harm was done that is being rectified by this change? What benefit will been gained from this decision?
These should be basic questions to answer when rolling out any decision.
"Seems that's the very definition of equality." Come off it, dude. This is the same rhetoric I see a thousand times when any similar post reaches the front page of Reddit.

Gay folks very recently got the right to marry. There are still countries where being gay means a death sentence. Not to mention being Trans and the rhetoric used today.

Xbox and Halo openly use their logo w/ the progress flag but 405th chooses not to?

To me this feel the same as a PC way of captitulating to the same crowd who shows up to Drag story hour with AR-15s.

If the 405th truly wanted to make this decision in the name of true equality then it would not have been a decision made/announced during Pride month. It's very telling. This isn't our first rodeo.

I would also like to say it's really telling when certain forum members react to Fangs's post with heart eyes reacts.

For anyone who reacts with Likes I will give benefit of the doubt as I believe them to not be acting with malicious intent.

I would want to know if LGBTQIA+ members/staff were consulted in this decision. I know I wasn't.
I just woke up to this like 30 minutes ago and I'm still trying to make sure I completely understand what's going on, but from what I've gathered (both here and in the conversations on the 405th Discord), this all stems from a desire to reevaluate what you can and can't use the 405th logo for. I think this is what was meant by the "brand integrity" statement, seeing as how the 405th Redbubble shop has also been closed down, most likely in accordance with this new direction. I could be wrong in concluding this (and if I am then please correct me), but this is the context that I've arrived to.

With this context in mind, it makes more sense why we're currently in the situation we're in right now. That said, I'd like to stress to whoever's primarily considering these changes that celebrating Pride is unquestionably a positive move and should be considered an acceptable usage of the 405th logo.

As others have said and will continue to say, the ability to establish yourselves as an inclusionary and safe space for people of all identities contributes so much to the atmosphere and identity of the 405th as a whole. Changing the logo to reflect this during Pride month (or even any other time, for that matter) is a small, yet important representation of who we are and what we should strive to value as a community. I urge the decisionmaker to consider these points when establishing the new usage rules for the 405th logo.
I'm relatively new to this community but have overall been really pleased with the inclusiveness I've seen here since I joined. This announcement as written feels like a step back. If, as Wraith mentioned above, this is predominantly a decision made regarding brand/logo usage, that should be made more clear. Right now, especially given when the announcement was made, it feels like a targeted attack on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The timing of this announcement is really not good. If a change is being made to the usage of the brand/logo, a "beginning of the year" announcement with very clear guidelines provided at the same time would have been a much better way to do this.

I would also like to point out that there is also a huge difference between equality and equity. Equality is equal representation for all people/groups, which on its surface sounds good - except that many marginalized groups have been extremely underrepresented (or actively removed from communities or discouraged from participating through various barriers). Equity means that these marginalized groups should have additional representation and recognition to help make up for past systemic wrongs and imbalances. Until actual equal representation/treatment is a real thing, marginalized groups need to be deliberately recognized and uplifted until they truly are equal in all ways.
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It should be noted that many of the 405th staff at the Battalion, Regiment and Division levels advocated very hard for this change to not happen.
I would like to start off by saying that I appreciate and respect all of the hard work that Fangs and Art do. They try to make decisions that are in the best interest of the community and values we aim to represent. They genuinely do try their best. None of what I’m about to say should be perceived as an attack on them as individuals, but instead as a questioning of the decisions that have been made.

With that being said, they are human and like any of the rest of us they are fallible, they make decisions, often with the best intentions. But sometimes intent does not align with impact.

I stand against this decision. I advocated against it. I will continue to advocate against it and you can too. For the TLDR way to stand up, peacefully and respectfully, please read the section marked in bold ️‍

The intent of this decision may have been to create brand cohesion (though I would say that is suspect due to the timing of this announcement). I would also say it was a decision rushed to be made at this time as it is a “branding” decision. As part of the branding team, and the creator of our Pride logos, I was not made aware of this decision until days prior to the beginning of Pride with the rest of Division leadership (who as stated were very vocal in their opposition).

If we wanted meaningful change to be made and enacted, as a branding exercise, would contacting the team that works on your branding not be a first logical step MONTHS not days before a demand for immediate change was made to be able to effectively come up with ways to support the community? I would say so. Anything less seems not only short sighted, but a slight to all the hard work that team does.

Timelines or concrete guidelines for these ongoing branding changes have not been supplied. The only rush was to ensure that the Pride logos were not used. There currently has been no attempt made to reach out to me nor have I been informed of any communications from any of the rest of the graphics team. The decision as stated would require widespread overhauls to all of our graphics. Leading me to believe that the rush to have no Pride representation through are logos is a thinly veiled attempt to suppress this specific cause. Which, giving the benefit of the doubt to FANGS and Art, may not have been the intent, but it is certainly the perceived impact.

I firmly disagree with this course of action and will even go as far as to say that this does not reflect the core values of the 405th and is an action in direct opposition to our Mantle: Unity. Armour. Honor.

These actions do not promote inclusivity, they act in opposition to those values by not allowing our members to be seen and respected. This is not Unity, it is division.

Our Armor is a reflection of who we are, it isn’t just the physical armor we build, but the clothes we wear, and the shielding many of us have to put on through our daily lives to fend off attacks from people who stand against our very existence. If putting some colours behind a logo adds a piece to that armour for members of our community, disallowing it leaves them with less protection, and leadership taking that away from them comes across as them no longer having there back. To top it off, the 405th seems to be in direct opposition to the core values of the groups we aim to promote. Pride Armour launched on Halo Infinite and has been included (among other causes) for years in the franchise. Social media accounts of Halo, 343, Microsoft, and even Bungie (tho no longer Halo themed) all have representation and logo changes. Microsoft even has Halo themed pride clothing in there merch store. They don’t seem to host the same concerns about brand confusion as we do and happily provided physical armor along side the metaphorical armor I alluded to.

Honour, well… this public post was not made until the day of Pride month. Multiple members of Division leadership called for this announcement days ago, instead we were asked to brainstorm ways to “work through this” and come up with several of the items stated in the initial post of this thread while almost universally stating that this was not what we wanted as your Division leadership teams. I also personally feel we are having our representation of you, our members, completely disregarded. I was personally asked by members about using the Pride logos unprompted, I then asked immediately if a statement would be made, days ago. I asked if Regiment staff were to make this announcement, individually, with no reply. Over the next several days the question was brought up by other Regiment leadership too, asking for a timely announcement to be made with the understanding that many of us do not stand behind this decision and as such would not make it on senior leaderships behalf. The announcement was finally made, on the day of Pride. To me, that sequence of events does not project Honour. Putting your volunteer staff in that position and having Division staff fight back not only against the decision, but from being turned into the scapegoats is not what Honor stands for.

Regiment staff were also told in no uncertain terms that if we didn’t back this decision, if we chose to step down from our positions of power in protest, that we would be abandoning the our communities. I personally have taken great offense to that statement as it is one of tyranny, the very thing Pride was created to fight against. I am not abandoning my friends. I am not stepping down at this juncture, however it is not off the table.

What I am doing is standing up against this decision. I am willing to accept any and all repercussions for my actions as well as for the actions of anyone else who chooses to take a stand against this blatant disrespect both to our volunteer Regiment leadership team as well as towards you as members.

I am not abandoning anyone. I will never abandon my friends, my family. But I will be a martyr. I will happily accept and welcome any demotions, punishments, and persecution for standing up for the right thing. Which is a loving, kind, caring and understanding community full of amazing people.

️‍ I will be flying the Pride flag in my profile in protest to this decision and I welcome anyone who would stand with me, in peaceful and respectful demonstration. I ask that no punishment be given to anyone but myself, who chooses to stand in opposition to this decision. ️‍

I do not think that this decision was one of malice. I believe at their core Art and FANGS are good people who have made an ill informed decision, not fully aware of how it would be perceived. Not fully grasping that the 405th is not the forums, or the armour, it is not the logos or the branding. It is people. It is volunteers giving endlessly. It is members working tirelessly making creations that amaze. It is the people who make the organization, not the other way around. As such I kindly ask that we the people do not sit by as these decisions unfold.

In any organization it is important for membership to be able to be heard when they stand in opposition to decisions. Anything less would be tyranny.
For anyone who reacts with Likes I will give benefit of the doubt as I believe them to not be acting with malicious intent.

I was okay with losing the logo if it meant being able to continue using the 405th platform to organize Pride events and it is confirmed we as the 405th can still support Pride in many ways. The only thing we can't do is put the 405th logo overtop of other logos (and we can't post pictures of us holding picket signs for any cause). This was also very unclear when staff was just told, no more pride logo, three days ago. We were outraged, but continued to express our concerns and suggestions despite the first post containing the words "open to civil conversation but this is not open for change." We wrote a formal petition to the site owner to either allow the pride logo to continue or take down all logos that that don't follow our guidelines. One of which is many items in the redbubble. Another is the very banner at the top of the page.

I "liked" that Fangs made this post instead of just not changing the logo and not saying anything and hoping no one would notice. As Ziggy pointed out though, there were a lot of other things that are still deeply upsetting, like the very pointed timing of all this. The lack of staff involvement leading up to this. The lack of social media posts to back up this sentiment described that pride is still supported.
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I understand all the points given (and those in regard to both neutrality/acceptance) and, while those concerns are legitimate, I can't help but feel that "brand integrity" is a somewhat weak excuse especially given the timing and historical participation. Given that companies, multinational corporations, and conglomerates are all able to temporarily modify their logos without infringing upon brand integrity or identity lends me to feel that this decision might be in poor taste. I hope that staff can continue to help others respectfully voice their displeasure with this decision.
If I may weigh in, I'd like to first say how much I appreciate the 405th being an inclusive space. It's something I haven't really had in the past and made coming out as trans much easier. I also understand and sympathize for the precarious position command must be in right now, so don't take anything I say to be an attack on them or their hard work. That said, this is a very ill-timed and worrying decision.

As far as I can tell, this is the first year in a while major brands and franchises are almost universally avoiding pride branding on social media. For instance, Microsoft, Halo, Disney and Star Wars have not changed their social media pfps, and it's obvious why. I won't get political, but corporations are scared of boycotts and are toning down LGBT support accordingly. That said, despite the public facing parts of their brands not wearing pride branding, they are all still coming out with pride merch and stories of support which, despite being brought up well before this change, the 405th does not seem to be doing.

Importantly, while Star Wars the brand doesn't have a pride pfp on Instagram for example, all of their cosplay orgs DO. Look at the Rebel Legion, the 501st, the Mandalorian Mercenaries, compared to us.


Star Wars and Disney having a more muted pride this year due to political pressure did not stop them from showing public support for their members. Yes, we have the rainbow zone in discord, and I love that, and so many of our members are also proud members of these marginalized communities. Yet for so many people who are wondering if joining our club will be a safe space for them, they won't know that it is unless they are already in our discord, saw an ODST at a pride parade or talked to our members with their helmets off. It's so important to remember we aren't a cosplay monolith, and are a small part of a wider community. When we are basically the only ones to effectively not support pride on social media, the largest and most public place we are represented, it looks like we might just be the bigoted gamers Halo players are so often seen as, even if we aren't.
I would like to point out that there are a great many who vocally opposed this decision that are not in this thread.

Fangs stated in her post that many staff opposed this decision. You all are not able to see the conversations over the past couple days but let me tell you... This is an understatement. We tried so hard, ya'll. Those feelings you are having... We have them too.

As has been said before, we started a formal petition to overturn this decision and within a single day were able to get over 20 staff members to sign it without even being able to reach out to everyone due to time constraints. I firmly believe that if we had more appropriate time we could have received far more.
To continue with what I have written in the Staff only area. I am just a dumb engineer and this may be at it's core a debate over a set of rules but the timing and the unwillingness to commit to any single course of corrective action is mind boggling.

Yes, there is one line in our guiding document that may make the use of Pride backgrounds a punishable offense when paired with our logos but that opens up hundreds if not thousands of other pieces of media that require immediate review. This choice of setting a hard stop to all requires the removal of all offending media and as such should have been done with a concerted effort and review to properly identify the changes and create a rectification plan. As this change was announced not three days before we would be changing our outward facing imagery to Pride themed livery all Staff were rightfully caught off guard with no plan in place.

It could have been a simple transition period.

It could have been an announcement of an upcoming correction.

Instead it came off as a targeted choice backed by malice against many members of this community.

In the staff areas I have offered my recommendations for corrections in essay format and I eagerly await the opportunity to help rewrite the restrictive Style Guide, The Mantle or correct the multiple years of infractions that I created as Division PR.
While I’ve been active in the private sector regarding this whole event and scenario I think it’s time to make my thoughts known publicly in an abridged form of my thoughts given in the staffing thread (5 pages and 2000+ words are a lot to condense ok?)

Over the past 6 years as a 405th member I found “my people.” I found a community of Halo cosplayers welcoming me with open arms and happy to have more people join their ranks. I got to know friends from every part of the globe and learned so many time zones. Even after realizing that I fit under the rainbow umbrella the community was still more than welcoming. Our members could craft, chat, and thrive without feeling as though they were at risk. They knew staff had their backs when the going got rough. I was continuously reminded that I was a member of this beautiful thing called a community and I had confidence in being a representative of the community as a result.

Pulling the rug 4 days before a scheduled event that has been in the works for months and has been a reoccurring event for the past 3 years has shaken my trust in this organization and has left many of us feeling hurt.

A community relies on its members and in turn the members contribute what they can back to the community, a symbiotic relationship that allows everyone to grow, contribute, and thrive. Without this symbiotic relationship we find ourselves in scenarios similar to this, a rift between the goals of the brand and those of the members. I think the responses here speak volumes about what the community wants, now it's just to see if those voices will be heard

I want to end this by saying to all members who are feeling concerned and worried.

You are valid and you are loved, we stand with you.
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The phrasing and timing both sound bad. It comes off that the "brand integrity" is more important than supporting the actual people that make up this ccommunity. I understand keeping consistent and official logos for the community to strengthen the brand integrity, what I do not understand is why an official 405th pride logo was not created/chosen, to both maintain a consistent identity while supporting the members of the community.
100% a excuse to remove the community away from the marginalized. We know what is going on behind the scenes. "maintain brand integrity" is just corpo talk for bigotry. It was no accident that you chose the first day of pride to push this crap.

FANGS Look through these comments and the dealings in the discord and ask yourself "Was this a good idea?" Your own staff members are saying this was bad. It is literally just you and Art who wanted this.

Recant the decision and apologize for the hurt it has caused
Hello all,

As staff members have mentioned, this topic has been intensely debated in our discussions for the last few days. I know this is new to you, but it is not new to the staff or the admin. It has been a harrowing week for many, to say the least.

Let me make a few statements of acknowledgment to try to bring at least a bit of clarity, although I am confident I will never be able to say enough here to give everyone satisfactory answers.

I understand the optics are poor.

I also understand many feel the timing is poor, which is why some believe these decisions may have ulterior motives.

I understand that some equate anything less than active participation in Pride Month as an attack.

I understand that confusion has been created by us allowing this to happen over the past few years.

While FANGS and Asgardianhammer have taken a beating over this, the ultimate responsibility is mine, not theirs. They have provided years and years of faithful service to this community and continue to do so despite the backlash they have received.

Let me share a bit of backstory on how this situation transpired:

While I own the platform/IP upon which the 405th operates, I do not generally involve myself in the day-to-day running of the community. I leave that in the capable hands of our staff, with the understanding that they are upholding the community guidelines and other rules we have set in place. I do get notices from the site from time to time. I recently received a notice that we were modifying our merch for Pride Month. I was surprised to see it because, based on our logo guidelines, we should not be changing our logos or co-branding for any reason. I reached out to FANGS to understand why we were breaking our own rules.

While it shows you some of the mechanics behind the curtains, what transpired next was one of the more heated series of conversations FANGS, and I have had in over 15 years of friendship and collaborative fandom management. We debated the difference between the 405th and other communities that we manage. We debated logo usage in previous years for events like Halloween and Pride Month. At one point, the conversation became so intense that FANGS offered her resignation (which I rejected, although I cannot keep her from leaving, which would cause major harm to the community… I don’t think most people know or appreciate the work she does on your behalf). Thankfully, we continued to discuss the situation and reaffirmed that while the logos could not be altered, this clarification of the guidelines did not mean we weren't moving forward with Pride Month-related events or sharing Pride Month-related content on our social media accounts. It is worth noting, as with most of our discussions regarding 405th matters, this was between FANGS and myself and did not involve other Division staff members.

You have my sincere apology for the lack of consistency and the resulting confusion. FANGS already apologized to the staff before seeking solutions so we can all move forward.

As I mentioned to the staff, please understand that our decision is set, and we are not open to debating it. With that said, this has been and continues to be an eye-opening experience that will have many ripple effects regarding our rules, especially those related to our logos and their usage, and a more detailed stance on participating in social movements. We hope we come out on the other side with greater clarity and a clearer set of guidelines for everyone.

I understand this will rub some people the wrong way and may cause some members to leave. If so, that will be very unfortunate. As I mentioned to the staff, since before my time at the 405th, this community has welcomed people from every walk of life and has continued to be so welcoming that we now have more members from the LGBTQIA± community than I have seen in almost any other costuming community. We have always worked very hard to treat every person equally, give everyone respect, and welcome everyone who is passionate about building a Halo costume (or supporting those who do). We are committed to continuing that tradition of providing an equal experience for all members to self-express and share their passion for Halo costuming. It is likely to be a bumpy ride as we sort this out, and it will take time for us to settle on best practices moving forward. Please be patient with us, especially with our all-volunteer admins, FANGS and Asgardianhammer.

We have had a lot of suggestions, and when/where we deem appropriate, we will incorporate those into future rules/guidelines. I understand that many feel very passionately about this topic, but we cannot allow those who disagree to disrupt the community. I am closing this thread. Please do not open additional threads regarding this topic.

Thank you for your patience and thank you for your support. This has been and continues to be an amazing community of passionate costumers. We look forward to continuing to provide a platform for all of you to expand and share your skills as well as your love for HALO.
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