Note: We’ve read the email sent out by Jack Conte. We still endorse this letter in full, our demands have not changed, and we will continue gathering support. You can read our additional response to Jack, and Patreon, below the signatures, here.
We’re writing you today both as adult creators and concerned individuals about free, legal, expression. We’re deeply disappointed in your handling of clarity with regards to adult content on your platform, and the mixed messages we have been receiving. Not only that, the most vulnerable among us – disproportionately queer, trans, disabled, people of color and those whose first language is not English – are literally scared for our lives. After hard-won fandoms finally supporting us on Patreon, just one missed payment can mean homelessness.
Over the last couple years we have been courted by you, worked closely with you on promotion, creation, and even website features, and have been assured by you that Patreon was a home for all types of creators – including those that make adult content. And it’s been well reported that you were ending “payments discrimination against adult content” – something you proudly confirmed to us in email and behind the scenes in one on one messages with your employees.
However, there has always been an issue with your stance on “porn” versus “adult content.” This stance has never been clear and is reminiscent of the phrase “I know it when I see it”, most infamously used in 1964 by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart to describe his threshold test for obscenity. This is an outdated, legally unclear, and importantly, extremely problematic view of adult media.
This problem has only been brought further to the forefront in recent days, where you have long had a checkbox on your site that says “Content contains sexual imagery or nudity.”
Which now exists alongside new language in your October 17th update, to the Adult Content section, which says this:
“Lastly, you cannot sell pornographic material or arrange sexual service(s) as a reward for your patrons. You can’t use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session.”
Which is exactly, as you well know, how many of your most popular creators operate. We send our patrons signed prints. We let them pick what kind of movie to make. It’s even how you’ve recommended we operate – using Patreon to fund a movie, or creating a website to reliably deliver rewards to our patrons! We’ve got the support conversations to back it up.
After an Engaget article covered these new developments, this was added:
Update: A Patreon spokesperson has clarified that its stance hasn’t changed, just the way it articulates the policy around pornography and other adult content. Which is to say that producers of pornography and sex workers more generally have always been “operating outside of the Community Guidelines.” The decision will leave a number of sex workers looking for yet another way to secure payment for their labor.
As we see it, this is further confirmation of a betrayal of your loyal creators and their loyal patrons. You’ve made a statement to cover yourself, but completely ignored those who generate the money on your platform and use it to pay their rents. Your platform strikes a pose in favor of freedom of expression, but there is no way your current contradictory stances can result in any sort of comfort to the creators. We hear buzz that like tech companies past, it’s all about funding and we worry that we’ll always be disposable people. We see that you’ve stated that you will “work with” creators to make sure their pages aren’t taken down, but that is not enough.
What is lost in that discussion is that the most vulnerable people will be the hardest to “work with”. These will disproportionately be queer, trans, and people of color. These will be creators less steeped in the language of “erotica” – just knowing that they want to create and entertain and that their skills lie in a sexual area. We must listen not just to creators trained in classic mediums, art school graduates, those fluent in theory and all the other ways that adult content is made palatable to the cultured class, we also must listen to and represent those who simply make porn. Who want to be creative with their porn, yes, but most importantly want to be self directed.
Your platform has given these people a light. We know people who would be homeless if it wasn’t for making porn on Patreon – and it’s not a small number. We know people who now employ many queer performers, workers, subcontractors – all working to make beautiful content. And while we understand the desire to police illegal content off the platform (and support it!), all of this legal content is beautiful. Who is it, at Patreon or anywhere, who decides what is art? When is there too much porn, not enough aesthetics?
Your fuzzy position on “adult content” vs. “porn” gives you the freedom to discriminate at will. And it makes content creators live in fear of that discrimination, itself leading to self censorship of important viewpoints.
We ask you to end this discrimination. Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry mostly in the hands of well heeled men. You were helping us hold it in our own hands. We ask you to take a stand on behalf of the sex workers who use your platform, their fans, and everyone who supports freedom of expression. Take a stand behind your creators who make revolutionary independant content. Stand behind your women and LGBT creators.
Do not go quietly down the path of least resistance and join every other platform we are discriminated against on. As journalist Violet Blue noted, “We are barred from Facebook, Instagram, Paypal, MailChimp, WordPress.org, Squarespace, Square, Kickstarter, Chase, Snapchat, AdWords.. Add that Tumblr and other sites make us unfindable. Now imagine trying to start or run a business and being unable to use these tools.”
To reiterate, we specifically ask that you:
- Guarantee that adult content creators, of any legal content, will not have their sources of income revoked.
- Keep your promises to adult content creators and end the system of arbitrarily judging what is and isn’t acceptable expression.
You at Patreon have been our friends in the tech world, you have told us so. Imagine how hard it must be for us to survive without the tools you had to start your business. Remember that our fan bases have been a pillar of your community and supported that very business. Lukewarm assurances that you’ll “work with us” are not enough – proudly stand with creators and their porn, or admit that you won’t be there for us.
Please do not abandon us.
With much concern,
And those who have been unable to sign – for fear of their safety and financial well being.
To those who want to sign, the option is below. Solidarity is appreciated.
Liara Roux – is Creating Pretty Things
Violet Blue – is creating cybersecurity news, and a San Francisco memoir
ChibiNeko – is creating Cosplay
Zina H – is creating reviews, articles, and essays about pop culture and fandom.
MarshmallowMaximus – is creating Soft & Sweet Pin-Up Photography
Pandora Blake – is creating sexual freedom
Conner Habib – is creating a podcast & web seiries on sex, the occult, and radical philosophy
Luna & Marion – are creating Adult Content, Photos, Cosplay, Modelling, Videos, Art, V-Games
Alexis Flower – is creating I Roved Out
Megan Rose Gedris – is creating comics
NomnomNami – is creating games about girls who like girls
Caitlin Doughty – is creating Death Videos
Kassandra Leigh – is creating Fetish, Fantasy & Fashion Photos.
Annie Segarra – is creating Videos, Artwork, Writing
Felix Biederman / Chapo Trap House – is Creating Chapo Trap House Podcast
Belle – is creating Adult video games
Jetta Rae – is Creating Praxis, Pro Wrestling, and Pralines
Merritt K / Stay Mean – is creating Podcasts
Aftermath Team – is creating erotica games.
Chlove / Go Get a Roomie – is creating queer webcomics!
River Lovett – is Creating Art
Jujala – is creating Animated SFM Smut
Miles-DF – is creating digital art
Sabrina Nichole – is creating Photography
LOK Team – are creating LOK: Rebirth
Jamie Zawinksi / DNA Lounge – is creating a nightclub and live music venue in San Francisco
Valerie Halla – is creating Goodbye to Halos
Alice X – is creating Friction
Totem Pole – is creating The Cummoner
Belissalovely – is creating e-girl stuff
Tarusov – is creating Pin-Up & Sexy Comics
Bacchus – is creating erotica research and curation
Ashe Grey – is creating adventures & good vibes
Take Back Your Sex – is creating Sex Entertainment, Education, and Advocacy
Zack Morrison / Paranatural – is creating comics!!!
Toni Babelony – is creating KYTHERA and NSFW illustrations.
Kay Lynn Syrin – is creating Cosplay, Photosets, and Videos
Mitch Alexander – is creating some really gay games, to be honest
Ginger (ero-hime) – is Creating Photos, Videos, Cosplay
Bailey Poland – is creating texts on feminist rhetoric in a digital age
Street Fight Radio – is creating Radio Shows
Demesejha – is creating Music
MikeMasters – is creating adult games
Saber Tompson – is creating Plus Sized Nude and Fine Art Photography
Laura Kerrigan / Season of the Bitch – is Creating the Season of the Bitch Podcast
Ashley Tea – is creating a whole buncha magic
Kumars Salehi / Delete your Account – is creating the Delete Your Account Podcast
Trungles – is Creating Comics and Images
Studio Snickerdoodle – is creating lewd girls in spaaaaace!
Dramamine – is Creating Smut
Ariel Ries – is creating Witchy
Gargron – is creating Mastodon
Glitched Puppet – is creating Adult Comics
Rrostek – is creating 3D Adult Animations
Riley J. Dennis – is creating YouTube videos
AnimoPron – is creating adult 3d animations with gaming-girls
Rii – is creating cosplay and fashion photos
Kyell Gold – is creating Stories
Forevernyte / Deadly Hunger Studios – is creating Comics and Animations
Mews – is creating cuties and lewds!
GoAskAlex – is creating watercolour, music, nudity, and mischief
Circlet Press – is creating Erotic Science Fiction/Fantasy Books
Rafu – is creating role-playing games
Anna Cherry – is creating NSFW Cosplay, Gaming and STEM content
SlimeMaid – is creating Spirit Zones
Tenleid Cosplay – is creating Cosplay tutorials, exclusive prints and more!
Evan Dahm – is creating Comics
Trevor Strunk – is creating Critical analysis of videogames
Pyro Steed – is creating Stories
Sarah Calanthe – is creating sensual photos and videos
Girl on the Net – is creating audio erotica
ThaumX – is creating an adult life simulation game
Rae D Magdon – is creating Super Sexy Stories
stringmouse – is creating pin-up photos, art
ColonolYobo – is creating Adult Animations & Posters
Ayumi Nini – is creating Cosplay & NSFW
The Scryfall Team – is creating a Magic: The Gathering search engine and other game tools
Alice Mae – is Creating Cosplay, Photosets & Pervy Visuals
Elaine Tipping – is creating Comics and Art
Gween Black – is creating Custom Art, Videos, Doodles and Photoshoots
Alice Voidstar – is creating Octodon
Andreas M. Antonopoulos – is creating Videos, Live Q&A, and Books about Bitcoin & Open Blockchains
mZmm – is creating The Hotel
Steven Brust – is creating books, blog posts, songs, political essays
wxcafe – is Creating social.wxcafe.net
Allison Moon – is creating sex-positive art & education
Freja Joir – is Creating Pretty Pictures
Travis Legge – is creating Roleplaying Game Supplements, Podcasts, and vlogs!
Sarah Jamie Lewis – is creating Anonymity & Privacy Research
Sporkbot – is creating NSFW art
Caelyn Sandel – is creating Games and Stories
Meryl S. Kavanagh – is creating fiction, music and art
The Brainstorm Crew – is creating The Brainstorm Podcast
Rhys P. – is creating Art, FICTION, COMICS(?)
Eliott Tender – is creating Content for Low Lifes!
Laurelai Bailey – is creating social and political commentary
thumbcramps – is creating cute girls!
Cybrespace – is creating an online space for cybrepunks of all varieties
Twisted Moon Magazine – is creating poetry
Lauren Seale – is creating Gay Erotic Fiction
Richard Silva – Is creating digital paintings, videogames, music, etc.
Snao – is creating Visual Art
Lexi Faye – is creating various videos, photography, streams, music, and general transy
Satsukii – is creating Digital Artwork
LitenDaisy – is creating Lingerie, Cosplay & Pinup inspired Photos.
catling – is creating sugar-sweet character art
blacksquares – is creating Music, Videos, Comix, Art!
Madison Roberts – is creating Music: Folk, filth and filk
Struggle Session – is creating sexy, cutting edge, Leftist nerd audio content.
Ben Zaehringer / Berkeley Mews – is creating comics
Topless New York – is creating Art and Advocacy
Harper Madi – is creating videos, photosets, and more
Skunkfrakker & Veelicious – are creating Besti: a VR simulation for adults
G.C. Houle – is creating Comics and Illustrations
Greg Slepak – is creating solutions for digital and economic security
Erika Lynai – is creating Sex Education & Sex Toy Reviews
Mutant Standard – is creating emoji
Mc Morgan – is creating Illustration and Art
Eva / What’s My Body Doing? – is creating evidence based, feminist sex-ed videos
Autistic Made Art – is creating Greeting cards, art, and stories.
Distressed Egg – is creating Adult Art and Comics
Lynn Cyrin – is creating Websites, Culture, Community
Banana Punch – is creating NSFW Art and Comics
Fringecrow – is creating Fantasy/Scifi, Furry and Transformation Art
Blattarieva – is creating weird comics
Antonius M Hogebrandt – are creating lyrical tapestries with threads of contemporary issues and myths
Admiral Squish – is creating filthy, filthy smut
Niki Smith – is creating Comics
Del’s Doodles – is creating Colouring Pages
Mitchell Hall – is creating queer games
Michael Lutz – is creating criticism, traditional fiction, and interactive fiction
Nicnak – is creating art!
Funkit Toys – is creating Modular Fucksquiggles
Brian Wolf – is creating Cute ‘n’ Queer Games and Comics
Emily Ritchie – is creating sketchbooks
Joshua A.C. Newman – is creating xenoglyph
Tiffany White – is creating music, games, comics, and dorky streams
Ashley Schandelmeier – is creating TAMD content
Helena Havoc – is creating erotic artistry
Ryan Bloom – is creating Videos and games and videos about games
James Iles – is creating role-playing games.
Breeoche – is creating NSFW and SFW art (mostly butts)
Eros Photography – is creating Photography
Nero O’Reilly – is creating NSFW Comics and Art
Professor Otaku – is creating Retro Anime Reviews
RM Honeyboy – is creating weird and strange illustrations for the sick and sad
LiteraturaBDSM – is creating Yaoi-bondage-comics-
madam data – is creating music and music software
Muskwalker – is creating furry stories
Jacqui Grace – is creating Art and Stories
Naughty Nessa – is creating Nude Art & Fetish Photos
Madam Kistulot – is creating Erotic Mind Control Fiction
Rey Tucker – is creating a very smol fox-friendly Mastodon instance
xax – is creating HELL GAME
Sticky Scribbles – is creating Cute and Sexy Damsels in Distress. Exotic Art and Comics
Dani Lee Pearce – is creating music, albums, music videos, album art designs, and THINGS
Ryan Estrada – is creating @forexposure_txt Illustrated
Emily Riesbeck – is creating Comics
Mortal Podcast – is creating the MortalVerse
Mx. Pucks A’Plenty – is creating Sex Positive Burlesque, Workshops, Events, and Art
Hushicho – is creating Art, Comics, Narration, and serving up realness
Alpha Harlot – is creating smut in the form of visuals and the written word
Pedro de Farais – is creating Photography
DOS Nostalgia – is creating videos about MS-DOS games and software
Max Smeagol – is creating 3D Erotic Adult Comic
Onyxdime – is creating Erotic Novels and Short Stories
Sinogen – is creating NSFW art
Hex Witch Circe – is creating writing, videos, and code
Andrew Hunter – is creating Sexy Comics and Art
Ndidiamaka, T.R. – is creating Fiction, Coloring Books, and Comics.
Tailsteak – is creating Leftover Soup
VL Darling – is creating erotica, smut, dirty little stories of sex, love, and kink.
Kathy Gaele – is creating Digital Art
Geneveive Newman – is creating Open Ivory Tower
Free Press Publications – is creating pro-liberty media
Aliza Layne – is creating comics
James ‘Grim’ Desborough – is creating Games, stories, dreams and nightmares.
Errogonous – is creating Smut
M.K. Lords – is creating podcasts, writing
Amaranthe Rae Lovisi – is creating informational videos
Calico Coquette – is creating Erotic Art
Recurring V’s – is creating Videos, Podcasts, Writing, Art and Whatever Else
Lirael Lowenstein / Now Face North – is creating Blog posts
Studio Thumpy Puppy – is creating Video Game Music
Luella Arbre – is creating Photos, Videos, and other arty stuff
Margaret Trauth – is creating sci-fi and fantasy comics
SuikaShoujo – is creating Song Covers
Sean M Pickett – is creating Photography
Farore Nightclaw – is creating furry, scifi & fantasy artwork
Kristina Tracer – is creating Clusters of Words Moving in Beautiful Synchronicity
Ghrolath – is creating Peril Commission Series and 3d models/animation
Charlot-sweetie – is creating Comics
Darkolenomicon – 3
Human? – is creating games and words about games
Fawn Fancybits – is creating a sanctuary for used panty lovers
Elliot Cooper – is creating queer speculative fiction
Sylverstone Khandr + Sylver’s Edge – is creating digital art + video games + variety stuff + more!
D. Moonfire – is creating Words
emma lee – is creating ???
repzzmonster – is creating Erotic furry comics and illustrations
E. Harrison – is creating Covers
American Sex Podcast – is creating a Sex Positive, Kink Friendly, Hilarious, Educational Podcast
Honey Rogue – is creating songs about love and scourge
artic – is creating smutty fairytales!
John Ayliff – is creating Twine games and interactive stories
Turkey Mountain Sunset Band – is creating Music
Rycharde’s Realm – is creating the Pangaia series, hentai, story-rih, fantasy, RPG games
Sheena Dabholkar – is creating LOVER magazine
Vyctorian – is creating Shakura’s Sunset and Transformation art
Waiting 4 Wrath – is creating the beer-guzzeling skeptical podcast you’ve been waiting for!
Darksh1ne – is creating webcomics and digital art (18+)
Sifyro – is creating Drawings and random sketches
Ashe Armstrong – is creating Fiction
Drea Gentry – is creating MESSY ORGASMS AND CONFUSION (aka self-shot porn)
Discourse Collective – is creating leftist podcasts about theory, current events, and culture.
SuziBean – is creating Lewd Art & Comics
AuntieSocial – is creating food for thought (Stereo-Typed radio show/podcast)
Lycaon – is creating videogames, etc.
Justin – is creating an autobiographical comic, SFW/NSFW Illustrations
Christian Nowak – is creating Personal Photography and Erotic Art
SurgeryHead – is creating Scumfilth from gargagetown
the Wolf – is creating Short Vore Fiction
Heart of Stone Entertainment – is creating Photography, Video
Blackrain – is creating drawings of vore, bondage, sex
Kaurwn Bliss – is creating Gender, Sexuality, and Relationship Coaching and Counselling
Sucia – is creating Photos and Videos
Scoot Moondog – is creating Anthro art and watercolor paintings
Darius Kazemi – is creating a weird and wonderful internet
Sycamorph – is creating Stereogram edits
MisterZulu – is creating Cartoony Fetish and Exploitation Art and Animation
Queen of Cups – is creating Next Level Findom
Meet The Creators – is creating a NSFW show all about Patreon creators of Adult Content
Autumn Ash – is creating Erotica
Vanessa North – is creating queer fiction to make you sweat, swoon, and swear
A Grand Mark – is creating Comics, Art and Writing
Terithes – is creating fan-art, NSFW, & personal projects!
Nephanor – is creating a website for 3D artists & 3D Art
Nikki Bruises – is creating Cosplay and Artistic Photography
Sfan – is creating NSFW art and animation parody about famous cartoons and anime
Johnny Lemuria – is creating collage art
PY Studios – is creating Adult Games
Sadie Lune – is creating Sex-Positive Visual Art, Performance, Writing, Video
RJAIN // seinobyte – is creating kinky monster and predicament hentai!
7 Realms Productions – is creating sweet videos about games and movies!
The SMUT Project – is creating intelligent erotica
Brian Sovryn – is creating Podcasts
Prince Lowell – is creating illustrations and comics
Andras Nest – is creating Adult Video Games
CustomWaifus – is creating 18+ Soft Ecchi, Fan Art, Comic, Yuri Hentai & Nude Pinups
Steph Dumais – is creating Comics, illustrations
MadMansGun – is creating Game Mods/Animations and 3D Printable Objects
The Awoo.space Team – is creating a Mastodon instance
Minibego – is creating Writing
Delirium Sade – is creating Queer/Trans BDSM Smut, BDSM Gear, Podcasts + Kinky Poems
James Opie (Nihilore) – is creating Royalty Free Music
Ishiga – is creating anthro-themed artwork and projects
MM – is creating queer love stories
Velntine Meikin – is creating Adventure Games
Fox Barrett – is creating Vagabond Starlight, A Webcomic
Peinto – is creating Art and Baes
Katharsisdrill – is creating the comic about Phill from GCHQ
E.R. Moreno – is creating writings
Dan The Giant Rat – is creating comics and zines
fangurley – is creating Illustrations and comics
Cassandra Panek – is creating Photography, Art, and Writing
MaillerPhong – is creating Fine Art Fetish & Erotica Photography
Magias Cosplay – is creating Cosplay, Photoshoot, Makeup
As of the latest update (10/30) over 2,000 creators, patrons, and supporters have signed. Detailed statistics available below.
Based on public data, the creators in the featured link section are supported by 49,397 patrons and bring in (again, based on those who list this publicly) over $167,911 either per month or per reward.
This section to be updated as people choose to be added as featured cosigners. The complete list is below. Please do not be offended if we are unable to add your signature above in a timely manner and get in touch if there are any typos/mistakes. If you would like to support us, please fill out our google form. You can sign anonymously, as a creator, a patron, an organization or any concerned individual.
Again, live updated signatures will be displayed below the form.
Questions/press – email@example.com
Articles featuring this letter and additional context – with latest roughly on top:
Here’s How Patreon Politely Makes It Impossible for Adult Content Creators – Motherboard/Vice – Latest
Crowdfunding Amateur Porn is Becoming Impossible – Playboy
Creators: ‘Adult Content Ban May Cost Patreon Big Bucks’ – YNOT
The real consequences of Patreon’s adult content crackdown – Engadget
Adult Content Creators: Patreon is Doing ‘the Exact Opposite of What We Asked For” – Motherboard/Vice
Patreon Censors Content; Creators Fight Back – YNOT
Porn-makers challenge Patreon’s crowdfunding ban – BBC Technology
Adult Content Creators Are Fighting Patreon’s New Anti-Porn Rules – Motherboard/Vice
Adult content on Patreon – Pandora Blake
Patreon’s Discriminatory Porn Policy Hurts Creators Who Need the Most Protection – The Mary Sue
Patreon Updates Its Rules On Adult Content, And NSFW Content Creators Are Worried – Buzzfeed News
Patreon : les créateurs de contenus pour adultes montrent les crocs – Fredzone
Patreon Starts Enforcing Stricter Rules On Sex Games – Kotaku
Devs push back on Patreon’s ‘clearer stance’ regarding adult content – Gamasutra
Developers question Patreon’s adult games restrictions – gamesindustry.biz
Cryptocurrency Increasingly Popular, Safer Payment Option For Sex Workers – IB Times
“We’ve read the email from Jack Conte. It continues to exemplify the exact problems we are writing about in our open letter and, in fact, makes them worse. He both moves to come out strongly against specific forms of expression, such as “real people engaging in sexual acts”, while going on at length about how good a home Patreon is to creators. And if we don’t agree it’s a good home, it’s ok because it only affects “very few creators”.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with any creator on the platform creating legal content and continue to demand that Patreon revise its stance to allow any legal adult content within a safe space on their site. We are sorry to hear that the way his company has handled our community “bugs” him, but it’s hard for us to have empathy for those in power while we are fighting simply to be heard, create, and survive.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Patreon’s move today is the exact opposite of what we asked for. Patreon is saying that they believe sex workers unable to change or censor their work to fit new requirements should lose their income and that legal expressions of sexual creativity do not have a home on their platform.
This email exemplifies the mentality of Patreon and other tech companies that their image, perhaps to investors or banking partners, is more important than the wellbeing of the legal content creators who rely on Patreon as a source of income and one of the only “safe” spaces for us.
We will continue collecting support and will think about our next steps as unified creators. If you would like to stand in solidarity, you can do so here – www.openlettertopatreon.com”
Note: We are aware that since penning (with a working group on signal and in twitter messages) this open letter, Liara Roux’s twitter account was suspended overnight. We don’t know anything more about why it happened and twitter has been unresponsive. We’re currently working to find out what we can with Liara’s legal representation at Austin Law Group, in the meantime you can contact her directly for comment if needed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Violet Blue has also indicated she is happy to talk to press.
Update: Liara’s twitter is back! Her and her legal team issued a statement.
As of about 12:00 pm PST 10/27, some statistics for you. Over 1,800 people have signed. 839 Patrons have signed, and 325 Patreon creators. Also of interest, 150 people said they would join Patreon as creators if it more fairly supported freedom of expression. 531 signers indicated they were concerned parties.
Based on public data, the creators in the featured link section are supported by 49,397 patrons and bring in (again, based on those who list this publicly) over $167,911 either per month or per reward.
We’ll update this again.