Yes, seeing others shake off the naysayers as they blaze a path of genuine individualism and (positive) weirdness is encouraging, but surely this isn't a binary situation where we can only have one or the other.
If someone threatens that safe zone at our club, I remove them. We simply do not tolerate people who are disrespectful to others. That doesn't mean we agree on everything (in fact we argue all the time!) but as long as things remain respectful, and apologies are publicly made when the line is crossed, our club remains healthy.
Smaller communities are, IMHO, the best way to foster growth in those of us with fears about being different.
While it's important for communities to be accepting, I also think it's up to individuals to grow a tougher skin. Chuck Swindoll does the best job I've heard to describe this http://www.insightforliving.ca/broadcast/lifetrac/thick-skin
What makes this line of thinking so utterly useless is that you can't force someone to "toughen up" versus bullies/assholes if they lack the capacity at a particular point in time. The attitude only empowers the bullies and assholes.
Eventually, I find this site to be too much to waste time on, and simply left. (I doubt this account will last more than a day anyway.)
This site has a narrow minded and intolerant culture. (And those who are within the range of whats "Acceptable" think that its quite the opposite so they never see it.) This culture knows that it can call people names, attack them personally, dig up private information and harass them and get away with it because there will be no punishment-- since they all vote each other up in their game of "smear the queer".
This is, of course, why they do it. Hounding those who are different into leaving until you have an ideologically pure little "community".
Meanwhile the moderators of this site hellban people for the "crime" of linking to a scientific paper that disagrees with global warming (since this is a leftist site, obviously, if you disagree with global warming you're not part of the realm of people where "tolerance" applies.)
And so the people who are different leave, the "community" sits around and congratulates itself on how tolerant it is, never recognizing how completely homogenous it is.
Hellbans are not always moderator implemented. Usually hellbans are the result of people downvoting. Since climate change denialism is usually bullshit I can understand why that kind of link gets many down votes.
The other stuff sounds horrible, and surprising, and I'm sad if your account of it is accurate. For what it's worth I've seen personal attacks heavily downvoted, and I've seen homosexual-positive comments upvoted.
This site has a narrow minded and intolerant culture.
HN is probably too large of a community to improve the vitriol that sometimes flows here. I like what http://lobste.rs is trying to do, where you need a recommend to submit and post.
Don't let the haters win! Let's keep trying.
Everyone else is just as afraid as you are. They're just better practiced at not making decisions based on fear.
Decision making & your emotions are always at odds. Learn to make decisions based on reality instead of the way you feel, and you'll start to see the world in a very different light.