Aanchir

LEGO Group Attending Pride in London!

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Haven’t seen any chatter about this on Eurobricks, but LEGO will have a space at Pride in London tomorrow (Saturday, June 6) where they’ll be providing Duplo bricks for kids to build with and minifigure parts so kids and their families can add figures of themselves as part of a minifig-scale pride parade that will be on display there!

It’s great to see LEGO making a more visible effort to support the LGBTQ+ community, particularly considering how many of their employees (including designers with strong standing in both the company and the AFOL community, like Matthew Ashton and Marcos Bessa) are out and proud!

LEGO also made a post last month on LinkedIn sharing some of their in-house Pride Month festivities: 

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6547457915375099904

Hopefully this foreshadows even more positive LGBTQ+ representation from the LEGO Group in the years to come!

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Aw, that's really cool, thanks for sharing!

1 hour ago, Aanchir said:
Hopefully this foreshadows even more positive LGBTQ+ representation from the LEGO Group in the years to come!

A couple weeks ago when I was at my city's Pride, at one point I found myself thinking how much I would enjoy a "Fun at the Pride Parade" people pack - or at least, say, some new rainbowy minifig prints generic enough to make their way into various City and Creator sets. Though of course, something as simple as a house set with a kid and their dads/moms would be just as welcome.

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2 hours ago, Aanchir said:

Hopefully this foreshadows even more positive LGBTQ+ representation from the LEGO Group in the years to come!

What about in their products?  How could this be achieved without negative stereotyping? Has a drag queen ever officially been represented in minifigure form?

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It’s great to see LEGO making a more visible effort to support the LGBTQ+ community

Well, TBH, showing up once a year as a sponsor for Pride is perhaps more a fashion statement than it would count as a genuine effort to support those communities. Personally I'm quite flabbergasted how commercial this has become when in the past many of those same companies couldn't be bothered to sponsor a free beer. On some level it still feels disingenuous and insincere...

Mylenium

6 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

How could this be achieved without negative stereotyping?

We are all just people, aren't we? Simple steps like getting away from those fake, clichéed, hetero-normative pseudo-family ads would be a good start and they sure could include diverse characters in their comics and TV series. It's not like you would need to come up with butch dyke or flamboyant tranny minifigs just to get the point across... ;-)

Mylenium

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3 hours ago, Mylenium said:

We are all just people, aren't we?

Indeed, but that wasn't the point I'm making as LEGO minifigures often have stereotypical characteristics.

3 hours ago, Mylenium said:

It's not like you would need to come up with butch dyke or flamboyant tranny minifigs just to get the point across

Obviously most LGBTQ+ people look indistinguishable from non-LGBTQ+ people, but stereotypes still exist, so is there a reason to exclude them in LEGO form?  Would there be a problem if the LEGO Group released a Drag Queen minifigure in one of its future LEGO Minifigure Series?

And to that point, not all drag queens are LGBTQ+...

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3 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

so is there a reason to exclude them in LEGO form?

You misunderstand. Personally I have no issues with that. I'd be totally up for a Divine minifigure or a series based on "Drag Race" just for the fun of it. Still, I think you have to tread lightly in this department. We're not there yet...

Mylenium

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

What about in their products?  How could this be achieved without negative stereotyping? Has a drag queen ever officially been represented in minifigure form?

I mean, there's a lot of ways to include LGBTQ+ rep in products without negative stereotyping. The simplest by far would be for a family in a theme like LEGO City, Friends, Duplo, Creator, etc. to have two parents of the same sex.

Similarly, future wedding or Valentines Day sets could include various minifigure part options depending on whether the person building them wants two male minifigures, two female minifigures, or one of each. Printed or stickered elements in a theme that hint at a relationship between two characters (e.g. a photograph of or letter from a character's significant other with a heart drawn on, or a photo of their family) offer a similar opportunity to show less heteronormative relationships. And of course there's always the option of featuring specific symbols created and embraced by LGBTQ+ people, such as pride flags or variations on the Mars and Venus symbols.

For transgender characters, it's often not quite as easy to depict them in an unambiguous, non-stereotyped, non-fetishized way using just visuals without a supporting narrative. But there are a lot of ways that LEGO has communicated narrative elements in sets even when they lack strong media support, such as graphical easter eggs or shared/re-imagined minifigures that suggest a narrative connection between two sets or themes.

Just consider how the mother, father, and child from Fun in the Park conspicuously reappear in Pickup & Caravan, how Dr. Brains from LEGO Power Miners makes a guest appearance (with a new face print) in the LEGO Atlantis Deep Sea Raider, or how a much older version of Solomon Blaze from LEGO Galaxy Squad reappears as the leader of the LEGO Ultra Agents.

It's not hard to imagine stuff like that being used to express a transgender narrative, such as taking a LEGO character (named or unnamed) who has previously been identified or depicted as male, and putting an unambiguously female redesign of the same character in a later set.

10 hours ago, Mylenium said:

Well, TBH, showing up once a year as a sponsor for Pride is perhaps more a fashion statement than it would count as a genuine effort to support those communities. Personally I'm quite flabbergasted how commercial this has become when in the past many of those same companies couldn't be bothered to sponsor a free beer. On some level it still feels disingenuous and insincere...

On a more general level, yeah, corporate Pride sponsorships are easy to see more as cynical marketing campaigns than real, substantive support. In this case, though, I think LEGO has demonstrated a bit more commitment (even in less visible ways) than the companies that put up a rainbow-colored profile pictures and ads on social media for a month and then forget about it.

According to some accounts from employees, the in-house Pride celebrations at LEGO's London hub are not a new thing LEGO is doing this year; it's just that this is the first year they have shown the same support for Pride more publicly on sites like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Furthermore, it's important to remember that many companies (even ones with very positive attitudes towards diversity or very diverse workforces internally) have remained silent about Pride for reasons just as cynical as the reasons companies are now making big public statements about how much they (purportedly) support the LGBTQ+ community. Make no mistake — there's nothing courageous or remarkable about waiting to visibly show support for a cause until you've determined it won't hurt your brand's reputation. But showing support isn't inherently any less sincere than refraining from doing so.

As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words. Some companies, like Google or  show superficial support for pride as a marketing stunt for just a few weeks of the year, and spend the rest of the year donating to anti-LGBTQ+ causes or discriminating against their own gay or transgender employees and customers when it serves their bottom line or keeps them out of political hot water.

LEGO, on the other hand, has a fairly strong track record of quietly supporting those customers and employees, despite making no previous attempts to leverage those actions for marketing purposes. For example, providing a free second bride or groom minifigure upon request for buyers of the wedding decoration sets, or maintaining workplaces that even former employees praise for how inclusive and accepting it was in their experience.

3 hours ago, Mylenium said:

You misunderstand. Personally I have no issues with that. I'd be totally up for a Divine minifigure or a series based on "Drag Race" just for the fun of it. Still, I think you have to tread lightly in this department. We're not there yet...

I agree, particularly considering that some people like RuPaul who have established themselves as icons for the gay community have also made comments that reinforce transphobic stereotypes and language, whether intentionally or not — with some examples described here.

LGBTQ+ identities may not be inappropriate for kids or otherwise unwholesome on their own, but that's far different from saying that all celebrities within that community have equal standing or credibility as all-ages role models.

Edited by Aanchir

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-48892889

Relevant I think.

Wading in on the discussion: 

I don't know about representation, LEGO can be played with however you like and any figure can be anything you want it to be. You build your own narrative just as much as you build a set. 

An all inclusive Valentine gift set and wedding set would be nice (except the potential price!). 

It is a tricky subject, but at the same time, if we are all equal and all accepting then: People are People and Minifigs are Minifigs.

(Though, a RuPaul series of CMFs would be aces!)

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10 hours ago, Mylenium said:

Still, I think you have to tread lightly in this department. We're not there yet...

That perhaps varies from region to region.

7 hours ago, Aanchir said:

I mean, there's a lot of ways to include LGBTQ+ rep in products without negative stereotyping. The simplest by far would be for a family in a theme like LEGO City, Friends, Duplo, Creator, etc. to have two parents of the same sex.

So what about something as simple as this? 

 

40165 Bride & Bride Wedding Favour.jpg

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Hmmm. Several thoughts go through my mind reading this thread. For one, I have read an article in the guardian the other day about the commercialism of the pride-events. It seems to be a general trend that once a "thing" gets popular enough, commercialism gets a hold on it. On one hand, like for every NGO, it ensures sheer existence of the organizer and its relevance, on the other hand of course - what is too much?

As for TLG, I think they might be treading a thin line here. Fundamentalist religious groups are good in drumming up and outcry when it comes to "offensive" topics like LGBT-rights (of course nothing offensive about it!) And since TLG is quite interested in having a strong representation in countries like the USA, where religious fundamentalist groups are quite vocal, I can understand their reluctance to make a more clear statement, like featuring LGBT characters.

In my eyes, TLG puts a lot of effort in to be perceived as a "good" company and to be that they might find it easier to stay out of certain issues. Sadly society is indeed not there yet...

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23 minutes ago, Littleworlds said:

Hmmm. Several thoughts go through my mind reading this thread. For one, I have read an article in the guardian the other day about the commercialism of the pride-events. It seems to be a general trend that once a "thing" gets popular enough, commercialism gets a hold on it. On one hand, like for every NGO, it ensures sheer existence of the organizer and its relevance, on the other hand of course - what is too much?

As for TLG, I think they might be treading a thin line here. Fundamentalist religious groups are good in drumming up and outcry when it comes to "offensive" topics like LGBT-rights (of course nothing offensive about it!) And since TLG is quite interested in having a strong representation in countries like the USA, where religious fundamentalist groups are quite vocal, I can understand their reluctance to make a more clear statement, like featuring LGBT characters.

In my eyes, TLG puts a lot of effort in to be perceived as a "good" company and to be that they might find it easier to stay out of certain issues. Sadly society is indeed not there yet...

Just chiming in to say that those groups maybe loud, but I don’t believe they represent either the majority or minority. If one wants to put a label on them, I’d call them fringe. From my perspective, most people are either just fine with it or are indifferent. There’s a lot of fear mongering more than anything.

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33 minutes ago, Vindicare said:

Just chiming in to say that those groups maybe loud, but I don’t believe they represent either the majority or minority. If one wants to put a label on them, I’d call them fringe. From my perspective, most people are either just fine with it or are indifferent. There’s a lot of fear mongering more than anything.

I agree and I disagree^^. Fear mongering can influence legislation and win elections sadly. They don't represent the majority, but push their agenda quite powerful.

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2 hours ago, Littleworlds said:

I have read an article in the guardian the other day about the commercialism of the pride-events. It seems to be a general trend that once a "thing" gets popular enough, commercialism gets a hold on it.

Indeed, exactly what is the LEGO Group's motives here?

They're primarily a toy manufacturer for children upto age 12, so do they really need a presence at this event given the majority of their core demographic perhaps doesn't understand what it represents?

Or is this merely for the benefit of AFOLs?  I.e. publicity to demonstrate LEGO is inclusive of all?  Or Do they intend to reflect certain values in their future products and marketing?

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28 minutes ago, Mister Phes said:

Indeed, exactly what is the LEGO Group's motives here?

They're primarily a toy manufacturer for children upto age 12, so do they really need a presence at this event given the majority of their core demographic perhaps doesn't understand what it represents? 

Or is this merely for the benefit of AFOLs?  I.e. publicity to demonstrate LEGO is inclusive of all?  Or Do they intend to reflect certain values in their future products and marketing?

It serves multiple purposes.

From an advertising standpoint, it promotes brand values of inclusivity in a context that stays true to their brand's overall focus on children and families. By sponsoring a family play space at Pride, they can support diversity in a way that directly benefits children, rather than merely paying for a rainbow-colored float like other corporations. What better way to market to kids and parents at the event?

From a business standpoint, participating in this way shows support for their LGBT employees and promotes Lego as a welcoming environment for potential new hires. Lego pretty frequently tops lists of the best places to work and actively participating in the community sends a clear message to adult attendees (including, undoubtedly, a good number of creative professionals) that that extends to people with different sexual orientations and gender identities.

And of course, there's the moral standpoint: that supporting equal rights and minorities is unambiguously the right thing to do ethically. It may be common for corporations to have ulterior motives for supporting causes like that, but I genuinely believe Lego cares about making a difference in the world beyond just the ways that directly impact their bottom line. Sometimes that means taking a stand for causes, even if there's a slight risk that it alienates people who think those causes aren't worth supporting. And when you get down to it, doing the right thing is just as valid whether or not it's ultimately for selfish reasons. I for one applaud Lego for making this effort and hope that it does pay off for them, so that they have reason to continue supporting good causes like this in the future.

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On 7/7/2019 at 3:12 AM, Mister Phes said:

That perhaps varies from region to region.

So what about something as simple as this? 

 

40165 Bride & Bride Wedding Favour.jpg

You mean the anti-redhead lesbian wedding set? :-) Someone will always feel left out of sets like these.

The problem with sets with two men or two women is that sales will naturally be significantly smaller than for a man plus a woman set, just due to demographics. So they have product spaces taken up with two sets that are never going to perform as well as a similar one. Worse still, if the heterosexual one sells out, then they have gay wedding ones on the shelves but are seen not to be catering for hetero couples. Because taking up a product space with lower relative sales is not good financially, should they increase the price for the gay wedding ones? What about when one woman wants to wear a typically male style suit? Should they include multiple female heads just in case? Then the problem of hair colours. Keeping everyone happy is not always easy. Making one set inclusive for everyone is next to impossible.

In more general sets, they already cater for homosexuality. There are loads of gay and lesbian minifigures. They are what you want them to be. I cannot tell just by looking whether someone is gay or straight, same with minifigures. And isn't the point of LEGO that it is modular, including minifigures? So if you want transgender figures, swap heads and body parts around and you're done.

 

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4 hours ago, MAB said:

You mean the anti-redhead lesbian wedding set? :-) Someone will always feel left out of sets like these.

In the past these sets have typically included alternate hair colors for the minifigures included, so it's not as though that's an issue that LEGO has no precedent for dealing with. Really, making a wedding set that was LGBTQ+ inclusive could be as simple as including alternate faces and outfits instead of just alternate hair.

It's true that LEGO could never create a set like this that would represent EVERY potential buyer (with options for glasses, sunglasses, freckles, wheelchairs, canes/walkers, facial deformities, prosthetic arms, etc). The human condition is just too varied for that. But it's silly to act as though not being able to be 100% inclusive means any attempts at becoming more inclusive are pointless.

4 hours ago, MAB said:

In more general sets, they already cater for homosexuality. There are loads of gay and lesbian minifigures. They are what you want them to be. I cannot tell just by looking whether someone is gay or straight, same with minifigures. And isn't the point of LEGO that it is modular, including minifigures? So if you want transgender figures, swap heads and body parts around and you're done.

In general I find this a feeble argument for not bothering to improve representation in sets. It's the same nonsense as "why does LEGO need so many sets when they could just make bulk brick buckets that let you build whatever you like?" It ignores how much more there is to LEGO play than wholly open-ended, unscripted creativity.

How many themes do you really think there are these days which are so open-ended that no characters have any obvious relationships with one another? Because even in LEGO City, it's common sense that the unnamed man and woman minifigures in 60182 or 31069 or 10835 are meant to be understood as the parents of the child in each of those sets. To say nothing of sets featuring named characters with established identities and relationships like 70627 or 41369 ! The ability to disregard intent does not somehow make the intent insignificant to how the set is most likely to be played with.

And if it did? Well, then, by the same argument, LEGO could make a set with two dads and their child, and kids and adults who prefer not to think of them that way or don't consider that possibility could use their imaginations to say that one of the dads is the child's uncle, or cousin, or older sibling, or family friend, or mother who happens to have an androgynous fashion sense.

You seem to believe that this "anybody can be anything" argument proves that including more gay or lesbian representation in sets is entirely unnecessary. But in fact, if we humor this notion that what a set's figures are intended to represent is meaningless, then it follows that there's no reason whatsoever for sets NOT to depict less heteronormative familial or romantic relationships.

On another note, the idea that making transgender characters is just a matter of swapping heads and body parts around — as if transgender people are simply some kind of jumble of "mannish" or "womanly" features like the "bearded ladies" at old-timey carnival side-shows — is exactly the kind of clueless transphobic stereotype that folks earlier in the thread were suggesting LEGO ought to try and steer clear of. It's tremendously naive to propose that as a substitute for real, purposeful transgender representation.

And what of LEGO's value as a tool to educate kids about the world around them — a position often cited by people who think modern-day and historical themes should go back to their less overtly fantastical roots? Now, personally, I would question how significant this purpose is in a lot of cases, since themes like Castle, Pirates, and Western have never been particularly historically accurate, and their primary purpose from the beginning has seemingly been to entertain or to teach creative skills rather than subjects like history or geography.

Even so, educational value is unmistakably a core part of the Duplo theme's design, and City and Friends at least adopt the trappings of educational toys with how many of their more science-oriented sets are advertised. So if LGBTQ+ issues are so far outside younger kids' firsthand experience as some comments here seem to suggest, wouldn't it be tremendously valuable to illustrate to these kids that two people of the same sex can be parents or romantic interests? Or that a person can be a different gender than the one they were raised as if it doesn't seem true to who they are?

13 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

Indeed, exactly what is the LEGO Group's motives here?

They're primarily a toy manufacturer for children upto age 12, so do they really need a presence at this event given the majority of their core demographic perhaps doesn't understand what it represents?

Believe it or not, these are not concepts that are likely to be entirely alien to today's kids or to have no bearing on their childhood experiences. At least, not those who would be aware of Pride in London at all. After all, same sex marriage has been legal in all of Great Britain (albeit not in Northern Ireland) since 2014, and same-sex civil partnerships granting the same property rights and rights to parenthood as are granted to married couples have been legal since 2005.

Great Britain has likewise legally recognized the gender of transgender men and women since 2005, although that right is not extended to nonbinary genders or people who have not lived openly as their gender for two years. So most British kids under the age of 12 probably do not even remember a time before same-sex couples could live in the same house and raise children together, or when transgender people lacked legal recognition.

Frankly, a lot of the bigoted voices trying to stoke fears about the dangers of LGBTQ+ equality rely upon a fabricated notion that these identities are some kind of uncharted waters which present a host of unforeseen dangers, as opposed to identities that have been legally acknowledged for well over a decade without any of the sorts of nightmare scenarios they paint a picture of coming to pass.

It's the same sort of deceptive fearmongering employed by opponents of childhood vaccinations, or of sex education in schools, or of other advances in society that have demonstrated many years of effectiveness at this point, and little to no evidence for the severe and unacknowledged dangers that those regressive and ignorant voices are so quick to attribute to them.

In that regard, things have changed vastly from the childhood experiences of many of us old enough to be part of the AFOL community, particularly in countries where the rights of LGBTQ+ people have not been legally recognized for as long. And while that progress towards equality is not always linear, it has advanced considerably even on a global basis. I suspect we will see LEGO continue to expand their recognition and support for LGBTQ+ equality in turn, although not necessarily as quickly as they ought to.

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27 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

In the past these sets have typically included alternate hair colors for the minifigures included, so it's not as though that's an issue that LEGO has no precedent for dealing with. Really, making a wedding set that was LGBTQ+ inclusive could be as simple as including alternate faces and outfits instead of just alternate hair.

An alternative outfit means a completely new minifigure (at least legs and torso), so that will increase the cost by one minifigure. They might as well just include more complete (specified) minifigures rather than label them as alternative parts that can be swapped in.

30 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

How many themes do you really think there are these days which are so open-ended that no characters have any obvious relationships with one another? Because even in LEGO City, it's common sense that the unnamed man and woman minifigures in 60182 or 31069 or 10835 are meant to be understood as the parents of the child in each of those sets. To say nothing of sets featuring named characters with established identities and relationships like 70627 or 41369 ! The ability to disregard intent does not somehow make the intent insignificant to how the set is most likely to be played with.

And if it did? Well, then, by the same argument, LEGO could make a set with two dads and their child, and kids and adults who prefer not to think of them that way or don't consider that possibility could use their imaginations to say that one of the dads is the child's uncle, or cousin, or older sibling, or family friend, or mother who happens to have an androgynous fashion sense.

In house type sets, I agree with you there is under representation of gay couples in official sets. But then, I would imagine that if they made three house sets, all equivalent, but one with two dads, one with two mums, and one with a mum and a dad, that the latter would outsell the first two by a long way. And unfortunate as it is, it is probably still easier for a gay parent to substitute in other minifigures into a straight couple set than it is for a straight parent to buy a gay set and do the reverse for no other reason than gay people know they are and are used to being under-represented in media, books and toys. This is not limited to just sexuality though. The same is true for divorced people or widows/widowers. The house type sets tend to have two parents and do not come with just a dad or just a mum, even though this is relatively common across many of the core sales countries - the number of one parent families is probably higher or similar to the number of gay households. Of course, the same argument about switching out could apply, just remove the unwanted parent from the house. But if the intent is educational and inclusiveness, then for every house type set, that is already man+woman, man+man, woman+woman, man only, woman only. That is without considering other scenarios such as kids that live with grandparents, so older looking minifigures are also necessary and so on.

It is also interesting that LEGO still sticks strongly to the no ethnicity line - https://www.lego.com/en-MY/service/help-topics/fun-for-fans/behind-the-scenes/brick-facts/why-are-minifigures-yellow. They say that "fans can assign their own individual roles to LEGO minifigures" so if this is the case presumably this extends to sexuality as well, then they would be going against it if they had sets with two dads or two mums. They would be outing those figures. Although of course, they already do it for heterosexual couples, roles and hence sexuality are implicitly identified. Much as job titles are identified. As minifigures have become more detailed they have lost the "this figure can be anything/anyone line".

45 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

On another note, the idea that making transgender characters is just a matter of swapping heads and body parts around — as if transgender people are simply some kind of jumble of "mannish" or "womanly" features like the "bearded ladies" at old-timey carnival side-shows — is exactly the kind of clueless transphobic stereotype that folks earlier in the thread were suggesting LEGO ought to try and steer clear of. It's tremendously naive to propose that as a substitute for real, purposeful transgender representation.
 

Remember in LEGO's world just about all women (adults rather than young girls) wear lipstick, wear curved eyelashes and many have highly curved figures. LEGO is a very stereotypical world. I would be interested in how you would depict a transgender person in minifigure form.

I have long wanted to see official minifigures of women without make-up, and women without the curved hips. I would prefer that torsos are gender neutral. As it is, male torsos can be used for female characters but not vice versa. LEGO indicating that not all women have curves in their torsos would help here. For example, for these two torsos:

 

973pb1022c01.png973pb1327c01.jpg?1

The first could have been made without the narrow waist - these are fairly baggy scrubs. Including the female head would still indicate the (official) character was a woman, but make the torso more neutral. Then similar torsos could be used in house type sets and multiple heads could be supplied so the figure could be either gender, where this makes sense depending on the torso supplied. However, for the second torso, it is clearly a dress and is fine as it is. 

This was has been done for these figures, for example:

hol119.pnghol123.original.png

Same torso, and it looks fine. In this case, there is nothing that makes the torso male, and it looks fine for a woman.

There are other examples, tending to be police / fire / etc rather than civilians.

cty0485.png

I'm not sure either the firewoman or policewoman really would have done her lipstick and curved her eyelashes for the job, but that is LEGO for you. Yet do these look any less female because they lack the curves? Personally, I think they look fine and if LEGO could come up with more neutral 'home' type designs - T-shirts, sweaters, etc - they could include multiple hair/heads without needing to include multiple minifigure torsos. This is not to say they should not do 'manly' men and 'girly' women torsos when required, just not all the time. Of course, it cannot help with a gay wedding set if both men dress as grooms or both women dress as brides.

Of course, the box will always need to depict something, and I imagine LEGO will nearly always go with the heterosexual couple, rather than a gay or lesbian couple, or indeed a single mum or dad, on the box.

It would be interesting if LEGO did an obviously gay stereotype minifigure, or even just a two dads set. Although they would have to release a two mums set at the same time, so as not to appear pro-gay but anti-lesbian. There would be a lot of social media debate about it, both for and against. You only need to look at the social media debate about LGBT sandwiches in the UK: https://inews.co.uk/news/consumer/lgbt-sandwich-m-and-s-pride-2019-reaction/

1 hour ago, Aanchir said:

And what of LEGO's value as a tool to educate kids about the world around them — a position often cited by people who think modern-day and historical themes should go back to their less overtly fantastical roots? Now, personally, I would question how significant this purpose is in a lot of cases, since themes like Castle, Pirates, and Western have never been particularly historically accurate, and their primary purpose from the beginning has seemingly been to entertain or to teach creative skills rather than subjects like history or geography.

I think LEGO's educational values are unimportant for them compared to their financial ones. They will make what sells first and foremost. If LEGO really wanted to be accurate concerning history, geography, gender, sexuality and so on then they should also consider race - get rid of the bright yellow skin, and have 75-80% of minifigures with caucasian skin, which would cater for most of the Western markets. Would they? I doubt it somehow, as they open up a whole racist / racism debate, even if they accurately reflect society around them.

 

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@MAB @Aanchir As to the houses, it’s open to interpretation. They don’t show them as being in a relationship. Take 31065 Park Street Townhouse. The box art shows the woman waving to the man from the steps. It could be a girlfriend/wife, or it could her brother, neighbor, or passerby. Then we have 31067 Modular Poolside Party. It comes with a man & little girl. 31068 Modular Modern Home, a woman & little boy. Even the older closed back houses only came with one minifig, when they came with them at all. Even 31069 Modern Family Villa, while they have what could be a married couple, it could just as much be a sibling/other family member or friend visiting. It’s all how you view it  

Who’s to say any or all of those people aren’t gay & their significant other is at work or what have you? 

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3 hours ago, Vindicare said:

Who’s to say any or all of those people aren’t gay & their significant other is at work or what have you? 

This is how I see minifigures, especially City and Creator with no preset story make it even easier to imagine.

But nothing is stopping me from swapping heads on my duplicate Nexo Knight figs.

As for the waistline or "breasts" prints on torsos, I don't think it's a huge deal either.

Maybe it's because I grew up with generic smiley figures I have an easy time imaginating things.

 

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11 hours ago, TeriXeri said:

As for the waistline or "breasts" prints on torsos, I don't think it's a huge deal either.

Maybe it's because I grew up with generic smiley figures I have an easy time imaginating things.

 

Things were so much easier when there were just generic smileys and simple torsos.

To show the point, look at these two torsos:

973pb1616c01.jpg?1973pb1617c01.jpg?1

Would you use the first one for male only, female only, or both?

Would you use the second for male only, female only, or both?

 

Spoiler

My answers would be:

First, male or female.

Second, female only.

 

So if LEGO supplied the first, I'd be happy putting a male or female head/hair combination on top. Whereas for the second, I would only use for a female character. I'd prefer more of the first type, where this is possible. That is not to say I want no female torsos, I do want dresses and so on. But where the design makes it possible, dual use ones are preferable. That way the minifigure can be male or female, giving more play options from one set.

For small girl minifigures, they don't include the waists or cleavage. This means they depict small girls with wider middles than their mothers! It also means they are useful for both sexes.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Both can be used for both when needed.

Edited by TeriXeri

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4 hours ago, MAB said:

Things were so much easier when there were just generic smileys and simple torsos.

(...)

I was thinking about the waistlines as well today. My conclusions are not as clear cut as yours though.:wink: I think for one thing that they have been introduced as a consequence of more detailed, more realistic printing. Especially when you look at licensed sets, like superheroes. But I don't think that is necessarily the way minifigs had to develop to. They are after all extremely simplified representations of the human body, so it could have been totally acceptable to not go down the route of trying to visually "shapen" them. But of course Lego sets are more often than not quite specialized and unique characters are a big part of that (again, especially in licensed sets), and often a selling point, so the incentive to push the look of a minifig to appear as much as possible as the character they are based on, is quite big for TLG. I have a little harley quinn standing on my desk right now and with all her makeup and the printed torso with quite pronounced waistline, it is hard to mistake her as somebody else.

So to make a long story short: I give for a good part licensed sets the "blame" on the situation. :wink: I'm not against printed waistlines in general, as they certainly are part of the look of certain characters (at least the ones wearing tight fitting outfits), but I would avoid them where it isn't necessary. The deep sea explorers-theme from a couple years ago did extremely well with only using one variant of torso printing even for their scuba divers and if it works even there, why shouldn't using one standard torso be totally sufficient in a city-context too?

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16 hours ago, Littleworlds said:

So to make a long story short: I give for a good part licensed sets the "blame" on the situation. :wink: I'm not against printed waistlines in general, as they certainly are part of the look of certain characters (at least the ones wearing tight fitting outfits), but I would avoid them where it isn't necessary. The deep sea explorers-theme from a couple years ago did extremely well with only using one variant of torso printing even for their scuba divers and if it works even there, why shouldn't using one standard torso be totally sufficient in a city-context too?

I don't think licensed themes entirely are to blame, since similar printing exists throughout non-licensed themes, whether City, Ninjago, CMF, etc. But also I am not against them, I am just not for them for the majority of figures. Like you, avoid them where it is not necessary, but have them where it is. I don't want to see a lack of dresses or bikinis, or muscled torsos. There it makes sense that they are highly gender specific. But for a T-shirt or whatever, the more generic the better. Same with yellow / flesh print on torsos. Where it is a bare chest, a bikini top or a summer dress, then skin will show. But where there is a tiny amount of flesh showing, just leave it off. That way, licensed torsos can be used with non-licensed and vice versa.

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On 7/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, MAB said:

It is also interesting that LEGO still sticks strongly to the no ethnicity line - https://www.lego.com/en-MY/service/help-topics/fun-for-fans/behind-the-scenes/brick-facts/why-are-minifigures-yellow. They say that "fans can assign their own individual roles to LEGO minifigures" so if this is the case presumably this extends to sexuality as well, then they would be going against it if they had sets with two dads or two mums. They would be outing those figures. Although of course, they already do it for heterosexual couples, roles and hence sexuality are implicitly identified. Much as job titles are identified. As minifigures have become more detailed they have lost the "this figure can be anything/anyone line".

To be honest, the idea that yellow minifigures are racially neutral is a nice idea in theory, but one that I am a little skeptical of in practice — bright yellow more closely approximates lighter skin tones than darker ones, as LEGO themselves demonstrated in some pre-minifigure sets and idea books that used black or red bricks to represent darker skin tones. I think it's telling that most of the complaints or questions I've heard about LEGO's lack of racial diversity come from black people struggling to find minifigure parts that resemble themselves and their families rather than white people struggling with the same task.

Furthermore, I can't say I care for the idea that minifigures should all be able to represent anyone of any identity. After all, as you mention yourself in your later post, certain outfits, facial features, and hairstyles (swim trunks, bikinis, wedding dresses, miniskirts, glasses, dark skin, beards, mustaches, wrinkles, gray hair, afro-textured hair, etc) are closely associated with certain real-world identities, whether in terms of age, race, or gender. To keep ANY minifigures from being coded according to ANY specific identity, you'd have to omit those traits from LEGO entirely. And even then, that creates some nasty implications, as though glasses, afro-textured hair, facial hair or old age are aberrations from a "normal" state of existence and thus not appropriate for a kids' toy.

Plus, one of the main sources of play inherent to the minifigure is the ability to mix and match parts to make your own unique figures. Limiting minifigures to generic, featureless faces, unisex outfits, and a limited range of hair colors and hairstyles in the name of "universality" ultimately reduces that play potential.
 

The page you linked to also seems to make a pretty woefully ignorant statement by treating "ethnicity" as a synonym for race or skin color and saying that non-licensed characters lack ethnicity. It goes without saying that the Tribal Chief, Maraca Man, Kimono Girl, Constable, Bagpiper, Island Warrior, and Lederhosen Guy all reflect specific ethnicities, regardless of their skin color.

And in fact, this brings to light yet another reason it's folly to act as if minifigures are racially neutral — frankly, it's less offensive to simply acknowledge that the Tribal Chief is Native American/First Nations, that the Island Warrior is Polynesian, or that the Kimono Girl is Japanese than that they are people of other races playing a grotesquely disrespectful game of dress-up.
 

On 7/10/2019 at 4:41 AM, MAB said:

I don't think licensed themes entirely are to blame, since similar printing exists throughout non-licensed themes, whether City, Ninjago, CMF, etc. But also I am not against them, I am just not for them for the majority of figures. Like you, avoid them where it is not necessary, but have them where it is. I don't want to see a lack of dresses or bikinis, or muscled torsos. There it makes sense that they are highly gender specific. But for a T-shirt or whatever, the more generic the better. Same with yellow / flesh print on torsos. Where it is a bare chest, a bikini top or a summer dress, then skin will show. But where there is a tiny amount of flesh showing, just leave it off. That way, licensed torsos can be used with non-licensed and vice versa.

Yeah… in all honesty, printed curves, cleavage, and lipstick all ultimately have their roots in the classic 1989 Pirates sets, which were pretty much the origin of character-specific/gender-specific minifig faces and outfits in general. Previously, hair was the sole feature expressly identifying minifigures' gender, which was itself a far from ideal scenario given how the idea of hairstyles being gendered is even more archaic than the idea of particular outfits or body shapes being gendered.

But I likewise don't mind printed curves on outfits they make sense for. Those early Pirates minifigures used them for corsets, for instance. I tend to feel like these traits make sense for many sorts of women's outfits that are fitted to show off the shape of the body. And yes, this includes fitted or scoop-neck T-shirts, so I can't say I agree with the idea that clothes like T-shirts should ALL be as purposely generic as possible. That said, it goes without saying that these traits would look out-of-place on outfits that are not revealing or form-fitting (like fire suits or hazmat suits).

I could go on about how some of the feminine-coded traits on minifigures could be interpreted in part as compensation for how the minifigure's original design appears to blatantly disregard how well it would resonate with girls, but I've already discussed that at length here, and this is all really tangential to the topic at hand anyway. Getting back to the topic of LGBTQ+ support/inclusivity:
 

On 7/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, MAB said:

In house type sets, I agree with you there is under representation of gay couples in official sets. But then, I would imagine that if they made three house sets, all equivalent, but one with two dads, one with two mums, and one with a mum and a dad, that the latter would outsell the first two by a long way. And unfortunate as it is, it is probably still easier for a gay parent to substitute in other minifigures into a straight couple set than it is for a straight parent to buy a gay set and do the reverse for no other reason than gay people know they are and are used to being under-represented in media, books and toys. This is not limited to just sexuality though. The same is true for divorced people or widows/widowers. The house type sets tend to have two parents and do not come with just a dad or just a mum, even though this is relatively common across many of the core sales countries - the number of one parent families is probably higher or similar to the number of gay households. Of course, the same argument about switching out could apply, just remove the unwanted parent from the house. But if the intent is educational and inclusiveness, then for every house type set, that is already man+woman, man+man, woman+woman, man only, woman only. That is without considering other scenarios such as kids that live with grandparents, so older looking minifigures are also necessary and so on.

I'm not sure what you're trying to convince me of here. I'm not in some way convinced that the lack of LGBTQ+ representation in sets is for no reason at all, or because of some prejudice on LEGO's part. I'm well aware that it stems from a desire to avoid alienating a customer base whose tastes are informed by the heteronormative society we live in.

That said, it's ridiculous to act as though this somehow precludes having even a single set featuring a family that's different than a typical LEGO buyer's. Consider this year's "Mia's House" set from LEGO Friends, for instance. Mia's entire family is made up of redheads, even though redheads make up only one to two percent of the global population. Obviously, this wasn't reason enough not to make a set like this. Kids who aren't redheads can still enjoy a set that doesn't revolve around their firsthand experience.

Why should same-sex couples be so different? They are not an alien concept to kids. It's no mystery why it hasn't happened in sets so far, but that's no reason to act as though LGBTQ+ representation in LEGO sets and themes is destined to remain a remote, fanciful possibility, even as LGBTQ+ representation in other areas of culture like books, comics, TV, movies, etc. has been visibly increasing.
 

On 7/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, MAB said:

It would be interesting if LEGO did an obviously gay stereotype minifigure, or even just a two dads set. Although they would have to release a two mums set at the same time, so as not to appear pro-gay but anti-lesbian. There would be a lot of social media debate about it, both for and against. You only need to look at the social media debate about LGBT sandwiches in the UK: https://inews.co.uk/news/consumer/lgbt-sandwich-m-and-s-pride-2019-reaction

To be honest, sensationalized tabloid stories based on a handful of tweets from random people are not a great indication of real, substantive controversy. Considering how many TV shows have gotten widespread praise for including any sort of LGBTQ+ rep, regardless of whether they break down every possible barrier at once, it's silly to think that the outcome for LEGO would be any different.

The notion that groups seeking wider representation are fundamentally at odds with one another, and will perceive any victory for another group as a slap in the face to their own cause, is itself a lazy stereotype of "progressives" as people who find any excuse to get offended, and often touted as a feeble excuse for ignoring marginalized voices entirely. In reality, a lot of people seeking more diverse representation in toys and media quite reasonably see any advances on that front as progress, even if it's representation for groups they don't personally belong to. It's not as though only wheelchair users were happy to see LEGO introduce a wheelchair piece.

Of course, that doesn't mean that there AREN'T frequent complaints about representation from both people who think it's unnecessary and people who think it's superficial or poorly handled. That's because human beings are not a hive mind and will invariably respond to things in different ways no matter what demographics they belong to or where they stand politically. It's not somehow an indication that decisions that might upset some people can never possibly be worthwhile.
 

On 7/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, MAB said:

Remember in LEGO's world just about all women (adults rather than young girls) wear lipstick, wear curved eyelashes and many have highly curved figures. LEGO is a very stereotypical world. I would be interested in how you would depict a transgender person in minifigure form.

If I'm being honest, it's fairly tiresome how you keep suggesting that gay or transgender stereotypes are one of the most logical ways for LEGO to depict LGBTQ+ representation. In particular, these examples of gender stereotypes you see in LEGO are hardly as offensive as the "man in a dress" or "bearded lady" stereotypes that a transgender character made simply by mixing and matching male and female minifigure parts might reinforce.

In fact, I've seen quite a few cringeworthy instances of AFOLs making jokes about either official or unofficial minifigures being "gay" or "transgender" because they feature a mix of traditionally male or female molds or printing — even if it's a male minifigure with a hair piece originally designed for female characters, or a female minifigure using a torso print with no printed curves. All the worse if it's a figure obtained second-hand or from Build-A-Mini with a "female" torso and beard or "male" torso and lipstick.

Comments equating LGBTQ+ identity with failure to uphold stereotypical male or female beauty standards are not only transphobic and homophobic, but also sexist, since men and women shouldn't need to have comic book superhero physiques or hairstyles stereotypical of their gender just to avoid having their gender identity or sexuality called into question.
 

Certainly, some harmless gay stereotypes (particularly those widely embraced by the community itself) could certainly find a place in LEGO minifigures. Arguably, many already have, whether it's intended to reflect the characters' actual identity or not. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if some of LEGO's designers have introduced character designs that resemble LGBTQ+ stereotypes and subcultures (or are otherwise gender nonconforming) as a wink and nod to a community they support, but that the company might be reluctant to represent more conspicuously out of fear of a PR backlash.

Professor JB from Hidden Side notably has short lavender hair and wears a carabiner, two traits that are not really stereotypical of scientists, ghost hunters, or paranormal investigators — but ARE fairly well established as fashion statements that many lesbians have used to signal their identities to one another.


That said, it should be obvious that stereotypes only scrape the surface of what actual representation entails. And while LEGO tends to employ archetypes and stereotypes in various facets of their product designs, it's not the be-all and end-all of how LEGO assigns identities to their characters.

Designers find numerous ways to show in Friends sets that Emma loves the fine arts, Andrea loves the performing arts, Stephanie loves sports, Mia loves animals and the outdoors, and Olivia loves science and technology. Why would it be so hard to show in ways that aren't offensive or stereotypical that a girl character loves other girls or a boy character loves other boys?

Even something as simple as a sticker or print like the "E+P" (Emma + Prankzy) heart graffiti in sets like 41365 or 41379 or the "E+L 4EVER" cross stitch in 70831 can show attraction between two characters even without extensive supporting media to contextualize it. And graphics like the stickers of Emily's grandmother and Skyra in 41078, of Cronan and his mother in 41188, or of younger versions of Lumia and the elemental creatures in 41196 can illustrate details of a character's backstory — potentially including things like a "coming out" party or a time before they presented as their authentic gender.

It boggles the mind how many excuses people come up with to make it sound absurdly difficult to depict characters' LGBTQ+ identities without either resorting to stereotypes or kid-unfriendly subject matter…
 

On 7/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, MAB said:

I think LEGO's educational values are unimportant for them compared to their financial ones. They will make what sells first and foremost. If LEGO really wanted to be accurate concerning history, geography, gender, sexuality and so on then they should also consider race - get rid of the bright yellow skin, and have 75-80% of minifigures with caucasian skin, which would cater for most of the Western markets. Would they? I doubt it somehow, as they open up a whole racist / racism debate, even if they accurately reflect society around them.

Now you're just being naive. We have seen plenty of racial diversity in LEGO Friends for over seven years, and in LEGO Duplo for three whole decades. I certainly don't ever see people complaining these themes are racist — even though parents and toy industry commentators have generally expected LEGO Duplo and LEGO Friends to meet far higher standards in terms of what skills, interests, and values they promote than themes with generic yellow minifigs like City, Ninjago, Nexo Knights, Castle, or Pirates. If anything, the racial diversity in LEGO Friends and LEGO Duplo tends to be something I tend to see praise for in comparison to the classic minifigure, even amidst criticism of their other shortcomings.

And anyhow, with LEGO increasingly working to expand their presence in Asia and the Middle East, acting as the only reasonable way for them portray race would be in exact proportion to typical demographics in broadly defined "Western markets" is laughable. As I mentioned earlier, even the relative proportion of different hair colors in LEGO sets is far from accurate to real-world population breakdowns. It's not as though we ever see anybody complaining that LEGO has "too many" redheaded characters. Most folks seem happy as long as hairstyle options in any one color (or color options for any one hairstyle) remain reasonably varied.

So clearly, there's no reason depicting any form of human diversity must entail some dogmatic adherence to population statistics. The important thing about diverse representation is ensuring that as many kids as possible are — in SOME capacity — able to find connections between the various parts of their identity and the toys and media they enjoy.
 

It's telling that people touting the idea that many LEGO characters are "whatever you want them to be" generally stop short of suggesting that existing characters without any established sexuality could "come out" more visibly in future sets or media. Certainly that's the obvious way to create more LGBTQ+ representation in LEGO themes without introducing stereotypes.

What if Lloyd or Cole from LEGO Ninjago were to get a boyfriend, or Olivia from LEGO Friends were to get a girlfriend? What if Cole's dad Lou married another man, or Dottie and Hazel from LEGO Friends married each other? What if Jay from Ninjago decided to come out as a trans girl, or Jack from LEGO Hidden Side turned out to be a trans boy who wears a chest binder? What if two nameless City characters of the same sex are shown on a romantic dinner date in a future restaurant set?

I can't help but feel like the failure of these comments to even acknowledge this possibility carries the unfortunate insinuation that existing LEGO characters can be IMAGINED to be gay or straight, cis or trans — but that unlike cisgender or heterosexual identities which are often either established or implied in existing sets and media, LGBTQ+ identities are "problematic" if they show up on any level outside of buyers' imaginations.
 

And there's something insidious about how discussions like this often lead to overdramatic rebuttals that frame either the desire for or existence of more diverse representation in LEGO as some huge can of worms that would have been better off avoided by reverting to character designs with NO identitifying features other than unisex work uniforms.

It's reminiscent of how after racially segregated schools were outlawed in the 1950s and 1960s some racists suggested abolishing public schools entirely, or how some government workers have attempted to fight against the legalization of gay marriage by not issuing marriage licenses to anyone; or how some schools have decided to cancel school dances or proms altogether instead of allowing gay or lesbian couples to participate.

Hardly any of these people had made any complaints about the value of public education or state-sanctioned marriage or school dances before they were called out for their discrimination — but decided that it was better for NOBODY to benefit from them than for people different from themselves to share in the benefits.
 

Similarly, nothing about a topic that acknowledges LEGO for actions supporting diversity/inclusivity and hoping to see more in the future should kick off a debate about whether or not LEGO characters should have any defined identities in the first place. But somehow, it ALWAYS does.

When LEGO Friends came out, even many people who'd never seemed bothered by the many hyper-masculine sets and themes that preceded it began arguing insistently that LEGO sets and themes should never be anything other than "gender-neutral".

When LEGO Friends updated its main character designs last year to make them more visibly racially diverse (instead of just nebulously light or dark skinned), people seized the opportunity to rant about how race is a "political" issue that has no business being in toys in any form.

And of course, any discussion touching on the LEGO Group's attitudes towards same-sex relationships or transgender identities eventually results in people lamenting LEGO characters even HAVING any sort of sex/gender signifiers. I dunno what if anything can be done about this irritating tendency… I'm just tired of it at this point. :sadnew:

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