Chat bashing: AOL’s Golden Gals chat room fights back

Chat bashing: AOL’s Golden Gals chat room fights back – On the Web

Jeremiah Hall

If there’s one thing that members of America Online’s Golden Gals have learned, it’s that you need to spread the word to be heard. According to the Golden Gals–a group of older lesbians who host a chat room on AOL–another AOL member had been crashing into their chat sessions for more than two years. The offender not only hurled antigay slum and threatened to physically attack them, but he or she also found personal information about several of the Golden Gals and used it to harass them, the women said.

AOL’s terms of service forbid such harassment and state that anyone in violation could have their AOL membership terminated. Nevertheless, the women said more than a dozen of their complaints were ignored by the company. That is, until the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation got involved.

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said he was unaware of the women’s complaints until Cathy Renna of GLAAD contacted him about the Golden Gals’ chat room harassment. While the company’s privacy policy doesn’t allow him to comment on specifics of the case, Graham said that “the offending member is no longer a member of AOL.” He also stressed that “AOL has a zerotolerance policy on such harassment.”

Renna called the Golden Gals’ experience a prime example of why it’s important to be persistent in reporting harassment. “If you don’t feel that the matter is being taken care of, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with an advocacy organization.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group