FaZe Clan is one of the biggest names in gaming. The group of professional influencers counts pit bull among its investors and cooperation partners snoop dog. Its CEO described it as “the Dallas Cowboys meets Supreme meets MTV”. And currently, its social media mentions are a full-blown culture clash, as fans defend a screenshot of one of its members dismissing the company’s recent support for Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Happy Pride Month!” FaZe Clan tweeted on 1.6 alongside a rainbow-colored version of the group’s logo. “We send love to our LGBTQ+ friends, family and community.” Some fans immediately cheered the sentiment, but many others despised it, sharing sentiments that transitioned from “Another L from FaZe Clan” to more explicit homophobia.
Things went even further after FaZe member Talal “Virus” Almalki commented that he disagreed with the clan’s Pride declaration. “Just to clarify that I do not support any LGBTQ or anything like that, even if ‘FaZe’ does,” he wrote in a now-deleted quoted tweet. “I am a Muslim.”
Almalki is a top tier call of Duty Player with over a million subscribers on YouTube. It is also FaZe’s first contract in Saudi Arabia, a country that has a long history of human rights abuses and where being gay is criminalized.
Of course, there are many self-identifying Muslims who support LGBTQ+ rights, just as there are many self-identifying Christians who do, but that didn’t stop many FaZe Clans from sticking with screenshots of Almalki’s post to support him To defend.
“What the hell is that?” A person who referred to Almalki’s comment asked the FaZe Clan account. “I don’t agree with how he’s been doing this, but it’s his religion and we must respect it the same way people outside the LGBTQ community should be respected,” replied another.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who follows gaming, including the chaotic fandoms nurtured by its biggest influencers. But it makes even the most feeble demonstration of support for things like Pride Month ring hollow when influencers then remain silent on the antipathy generated and shared by their own fans.
Whether it’s 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 supporters of FaZe Clan were initially surprised by his Pride tweet?
Over a day later, there is still no follow-up comment from FaZe Clan or Almalki. Some FaZe fans even accuse the former of censoring the latter. Almalki did not immediately respond to a request for comment from my box
FaZe Clan is no stranger to controversy. A year ago it had to exile one member and suspend others An alleged crypto scheme they pushed went bust. But the group has always strived to be more than just internet celebrities a bad day away from a heated gamer moment.
Last October, FaZe Clan announced its plan to ride the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) hype train to a $1 billion public company. The deal should close in the first half of 2022. It is now June and FaZe Clan is still not trading on NASDAQ The SPAC hype is simmering. The group has until February 2023 to complete the deal before it collapses and the money returns to investors.
Correction: 6/3/22 3:06pm ET: Clarifying Snoop Dog’s role in FaZe Clan and removing Drake as an investor, only indirectly involved through NTWRK.