The Bethesda rainbow pins were the classiest thing I’ve ever seen at E3

Late last night/early this morning, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place. Hundreds of people were gunned down at a gay nightclub in Orlando. 50 died. At least 53 more were reportedly hospitalized.

This doesn’t have anything to do with videogames, but it has everything to do with living in America in 2016. It’s a tragedy, a direct attack on LGBT individuals at a time when our rights are very much in question, and a heinous act of violence, no matter how you stack it.

So, it meant a great deal that Bethesda took the time to make a a very small, but very classy gesture during its E3 press event. In its pre-show, both hosts — Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb — wore rainbow pins (the rainbow is used across the country and world as a symbol for LGBT rights), and Bethesda made its Twitch avatar a rainbow flag. Throughout the show, each speaker wore the pin as well.

That’s all. There were no speeches, or ham-fisted attempts at mixing marketing (the purpose of E3) with messages about pride or LGBT rights. That could’ve been awkward at best and damaging or exploitative at worst. No, this was a simple gesture meant to show solidarity and signal respect for those affected by the attacks — the LGBT population.

I’m sure there will be backlash to this gesture. There probably already is. I don’t care. And no, Bethesda showing off rainbow pins is not going to somehow magically solve the problem. But it does mean something.

At a time when many of us are feeling raw and upset about what happened to our queer brothers and sisters in Orlando — and about the subsequent Islamophobia that accompanied the attack — this matters.

It shows awareness and a willingness to engage in a respectful way. It’s the opposite of the usual head-in-the-sand approach that we tend to see in the industry when tragedy strikes.

Big publishers, take note: THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. Show you care — show that you are listening, show respect. It means more than you know to your LGBT audience, and it shows everyone else how to do that gracefully.