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American Girl doll collectors are fighting homophobia within their online community

Pride Month prompted a series of posts that have divided the doll enthusiasts on Instagram.
American Girl dolls at the New York Toy Fair in February 2017.
American Girl dolls at the New York Toy Fair in February 2017.Diane Bondareff / AP Images for Mattel file

The typically welcoming American Girl doll collecting community was fractured by a wave of Instagram posts denouncing Pride, prompting a discussion over homophobia within the hobby.

American Girl collectors on Instagram, a community known as AGIG, typically use the platform to anonymously flex their extensive collections, meet other doll collectors and share photos of custom-made clothing and accessories.

American Girl rereleased the historic Molly doll on Wednesday, and some doll enthusiasts suggested that the timing implied that Molly is canonically gay. American Girl has denied fan speculation over Molly's sexuality.

As celebrations for Pride kicked off, some AGIG creators posted in support of LGBTQ representation and inclusivity. Meanwhile, a group of other AGIG creators created an online campaign to “take back the rainbow.” The posts have divided the doll enthusiasts on Instagram.

‘The Bible warns us about pride,' creator post says

Over the weekend, a group of creators, many who say on their profiles that they are minors, posted images of their dolls, each wearing a different color of the rainbow. They captioned their posts with Bible quotes condemning Pride.

“As many of you are aware this month is known by many as pride month,” the account agdollfan4ever wrote Sunday.

“I feel like specifically this time of year a few things are pushed out of view. First is God’s view of pride. ... The Bible warns us about pride and heeds us to be cautious and walk in humility.”

The creator posted a photo of a doll in a green dress, saying the color is reminiscent of "God's stunning creation and the beautiful outdoors."

Another creator, ag.frogsoup, posted a photo of a doll wearing a yellow dress to represent "joy that we have knowing Jesus is our Savior and Lord." The caption said, "This month is know to some as Pride month. I am a christian, and as a christian, i do not support this. I believe that God made two genders and that's male and female."

Creator little.bird_studio quoted Revelations.

Other creators who were part of the anti-Pride group appeared to delete their posts or make their accounts private after other AGIG accounts spoke out against the campaign.

The meme account klit.klittredge — a play on the doll Kit Kittredge — shared screenshots of two anti-Pride posts, sparking further debate within the AGIG community over inclusivity.

The account livs_ag posted in support of "christians defending their beliefs" on their Instagram story.

"Just because they do not agree with you politically, doesn't make them bigots or racist or any other colorful names you've come up with," livs_ag wrote. "Everyone has the right to their own opinion. I believe in the Bible and if that offends you so be it."

AGIG community usually a welcoming space, creators say

Reese, who wanted to use only their first name out of concern for their privacy, is among the creators pushing back against the anti-Pride posts.

On Instagram, Reese, 18, known as honeyag_, posted a picture of two feminine dolls embracing. They said the anti-Pride posts "felt odd."

"We are strange people collecting dolls, so we should honestly be the LAST to judge a group of people."

Reese, an AGIG creator known as honeyag_

"We are strange people collecting dolls, so we should honestly be the last to judge a group of people," Reese said. "Especially something we can't control, then using religion as an excuse, which is something they can choose."

The AGIG community is usually a welcoming space, Reese said, so they were shocked by how many AGIG creators supported the homophobic posts.

"It made me realize they aren't as supportive as I originally imagined," Reese said. "That it can be just as hateful as any other community."

Anti-Pride posts go 'against the message of American Girl'

The American Girl doll community is no stranger to homophobia.

Last year, American Girl launched Kira Bailey, a doll who loves animals and spends her summer at her family's wildlife sanctuary with her great-aunts Mamie and Lynette.

Kira was the first American Girl doll with LGBTQ characters in her storyline, which sparked outrage from conservative groups. A petition to discontinue Kira's storyline from the group One Million Moms gained over 34,800 signatures.

A spokesperson for American Girl did not immediately respond to request for comment about the homophobic posts and about the backlash toward the Kira doll specifically.

Kyra, an openly lesbian AGIG creator who goes by, described the Kira doll as a "step in the right direction" and added that the AGIG community provided fans with "a way for some people to get this representation they never get to see."

Kyra, who did not want to use her full name out of concern for her privacy, said she felt "really disgusted" by the recent homophobic posts.

"I was really angry from these statements that the accounts left," Kyra, 19, said. "Because I use this page as a safe space for others and even myself. ... I generally like to keep my Instagram stories lighthearted, but I felt such rage from these Instagram accounts."

Others in the community echoed the thought, calling the anti-Pride posts "disappointing."

Kelsey, an AGIG creator known as prettylittleelizabeth, has been an avid American Girl fan since she was 8. Now 32, she said she has found "friends for life" through the AGIG community.

Kelsey, who did not want to use her full name out of concern for her privacy, emphasized the importance of representation for younger fans.

"Hate is a learned behavior, and seeing it modeled here, for younger fans to absorb, is so disappointing."

kelsey, agig creator konwn as prettylittleelizabeth

"Hate is a learned behavior, and seeing it modeled here, for younger fans to absorb, is so disappointing," she said. "It goes entirely against the message of American Girl and everything the characters stand for."

The American Girl characters are "girls who defied social norms and stood up for their friends," Kelsey said.

"I can't understand calling yourself a fan if you aren't willing to do the same."

While American Girl only recently released a doll with an LGBTQ storyline, AGIG creators like Kyra have been using their platforms to write their own representation for years.

Kyra said she and other creators “explore storytelling with their dolls” and spin elaborate backstories for each character much like the original American Girl dolls.

She tries to combat the homophobia within the AGIG community by writing queer storylines for all of her dolls, which she posts on Instagram. Kyra was especially encouraged by the influx of AGIG posts supporting the LGBTQ community, despite the homophobic posts.

“If posts of queer AG dolls on Instagram help at least one person feel supported, I think that’s amazing,” she said.