Stockholm Pride, the largest LGBT Pride festival in Scandinavia, is setting the tone for its celebration this week in a novel way: With a Grand Theft Auto 5 mod.
Los Santos Pride, downloadable for free here, stages a gay pride parade in downtown Los Santos, introduces new clothing items and other visual themes, and even carries a radio news announcement that will play when the festival is going. It's the work of modders JulioNiB, 8-Bit Bastard, TheFriedTurkey, Merfish and TheNathanNS.
The mod did not come into being without some serious discussion of its consequences, intentional or otherwise.
William Lothman, one of the advertising professionals who commissioned and is promoting the mod, said that at first the mod team scripted the Pride event in Los Santos to be like anything else in the game — meaning the parade could be disrupted or destroyed, or its participants killed. For more than a decade, Grand Theft Auto has been an open-world video game series notorious for random acts of violence.
Still, "This project has never been about moralizing about violence in video games," Lothman said to Polygon. "Doing something violent inside it doesn't mean that you stand behind violence or horrific acts."
Lothman and the team had considered that some users might use the mod to stage a massacre on the Pride parade in Los Santos and possibly upload videos of that to YouTube or Facebook. Still, they decided to let that kind of hate speech speak for itself — until the June 12 mass shooting on Orlando's Pulse nightclub, which killed 49 and wounded another 53. Pulse was a prominent club to central Florida's gay nightlife.
"That was just devastating, and then directly after we heard about the threats towards Los Angeles Pride," Lothman told Polygon, referring to the arrest of a heavily armed man who said he was going to that city's festival, occurring the day after the massacre.
After Orlando, the mod team questioned whether its work in this game was still appropriate, Lothman said. They decided to finish after reaching a group decision to make the parade and its participants indestructible. That means it marches on in the game no matter what any player may try to do to stop it. "We decided to make it indestructible — just to show that love always triumphs," Lothman told Polygon.
The mod, for Windows PC versions of Grand Theft Auto 5, is available for download here. It sets forth a procession of diverse marchers on downtown L.S., with buskers, DJs, marchers, revelers, police and onlookers taking it all in.
In real life, Stockholm Pride is a 10-day event beginning July 22, whose centerpiece is a July 30 parade in the Swedish capital city.