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Why is Patreon flagging LGBTQ creators’ work as ‘adult content’?

Maarika Martins/Patreon

Some queer artists say it’s had a direct effect on their livelihood.

Many artists these days rely on the website Patreon for a significant amount of their income, allowing their audience to directly fund their work. Although advertising, sales, or commissioned work can also obviously be major sources of income, Patreon’s monthly payment system is set up to provide a steady, reliable revenue stream directly from fans.

That’s the idea behind it, but LGBTQ creators say Patreon is wrongly flagging their content, affecting who can see their work, and subsequently, how much money they will make.

On Aug. 2, A. Stiffler & K. Copeland, spouses and partners in making comics, had their account on Patreon marked as 18+, aka “adult content,” however, they say their work is PG. While they were alerted that their account had been flagged, they weren’t told what content caused the rating to change, nor were they given any information about how to keep a non-mature rating.

The problem seems to be growing. A Canadian cartoonist making comics to help queer teens and a queer musician also had their accounts flagged as 18+. Many suspect it is the queerness of their content that is causing it to be flagged as mature.

Maarika Martins, another cartoonist who has been wrongly flagged, said it reminded her of what happened with YouTube demonitizing LGBTQ creators. “LGBTQ creators are already struggling with all the restrictions we have to deal with,” she told the Daily Dot. “It’s just more of the same.”

Martins said she purposefully only posted safe-for-work work on Patreon to ensure it could reach the widest audience, and said the most mature it got was “maybe one post that has some foul language.”

“It perpetuates the harmful notion that LGBTQ content is somehow inherently sexual or ‘adult’ just by merely existing,” Martins said. “It just feels disrespectful and homophobic to me.”

Aside from possibly being discriminatory, the flagged content “also screws up our monthly payouts, since those accounts’ pledges are charged through a foreign bank,” Stiffler told the Daily Dot. “That means the pledges are often flagged as fraudulent charges by patrons’ banks and we lose that money unless they diligently call their banks and/or follow up with Patreon personally.” Stiffler and Copeland also say that before being flagged as mature, they had steady growth in patrons, and it has now slowed to a trickle.

Copeland, Stiffler, and Martins all say they have tried to contact Patreon both through the support email and public channels, and are still waiting on a response. The Daily Dot also reached out to Patreon but has not heard back.

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey

Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently working out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have bylines at The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, and Bullet Points. Follow them on Twitter @thedialogtree