Gay life goes on outside spotlight

September 3, 2007 at 9:37 pm | Posted in PixelPulse Archive, Second Life | Comments Off on Gay life goes on outside spotlight

By VERONIQUE LALONDE

Lesbians seem to be everywhere in Second Life. The L Word is a region of multiple sims into which pour dozens, maybe hundreds, of new Second Lifers every day. There are other high-profile lesbian hangouts, as well, such as the Isle of Lesbos. More importantly, lesbian and bisexual women are sprinkled throughout SL, not just in women-only areas. They are designers, club owners, builders, terraformers, and more.

Do a search for “gay male” on the Groups tab in Second Life and you’ll get a lot of hits. There are many more gay male groups than there are groups tagged “lesbian” or “bisexual.” Yet for the most part, these groups appear to be out of the public spotlight.

Laying low, or unabashedly out?
Sometimes it seems that gay men in SL are mostly staying out of sight, but perhaps it’s only a matter of perception and point of view. Brooks Rocco (shown at right) is the leader of the largest gay male group in SL, Gay Life. “It’s interesting you should say that,” he said in response to the idea that gays keep a somewhat low profile in SL. “When you are gay, it seems that straight people are the low profile.”

Still, the perception remains. Perhaps it’s at least partially a reflection of the real world, where lesbians don’t seem to rouse the kinds of anti-homosexual passions that gay men do. Although some lesbians are separatist, most are fairly well integrated into larger society. It also seems that straight women tend not to care about the sexual orientation of other women, and in SL there is a great deal of open lesbianism. Many straight men, on the other hand, tend to care a great deal about the sexual orientation of other men.

It’s important to note as well that the lesbian impact in-world is influenced somewhat by an indeterminate number of SL lesbians who are genetic males in real life. No doubt, there are genetic females among the gay male population in SL, but it seems hard to imagine that the percentage is anywhere near as large as that of males among the lesbian population.

The spice of life
Given a Second Life world that tends to be more tolerant, but is still not the ideal of acceptance, many gay men hang out with each other in places such as Bad Boy’s, SLeek Beach Club, DEVILinside, and Gay World. Such venues provide safety, comfort and a congenial atmosphere.

Brooks recently was at the S.L. Eagle Club (pictured above) on Impulse Island, at his (real life) birthday celebration. He’s into leather, and this was a party of leather boys. The music was pounding and the men were flirting, dancing and generally having fun. Still, just as in the real world, leather is only one of the many gay subcultures in SL. There are even gay Furries and other Anthros (the broader term for any anthropomorphized nonhuman avatar). As well, there are gay groups in the various countries in which SL participants live: the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, and more.

Brooks said the party happened completely by word of mouth. This is where the groups come in. Gay Life, not just the largest, but also one of the oldest gay groups in SL, is only one of several of which Brooks is leader. The original owner of Gay Life left SL, so Brooks was democratically elected owner and leader by the group in July of 2005. Since then, Gay Life has grown from 160 members to more than 2,000. Word goes out that there will be a gathering somewhere, and the gathering happens. So the group provides a major means of communicating behind the scenes.

Pride festival makes some noise
According to Brooks, Gay Pride 2005 was when things really took off for gay males in Second Life. Prior to that, he had wandered around SL, just exploring and only occasionally finding other gay men. With Pride 2005, he said gay men found out just how many of them there were, and the scene began to flourish.

Kamael Xevious (shown at left), chairman of the upcoming Second Pride Festival 2007, concurred that Pride 2005 was an important step in the development of the SL gay community. The 2006 Pride festival was not as successful for various reasons. Unconfirmed user registration had quickly changed the demographic mix on Second Life, and the behavior of some new residents was less than exemplary. As well, there was a dispute over land rights on the sims that were used for the festival.

The Second Pride 2007 Committee has learned from experience and is organizing a major festival for the week of June 24. Kamael said that much is still in the planning stages so he could not guarantee that certain things would happen, but he anticipates an art exhibit, a history museum, an amusement park area, memorial structures, and several events. As well, the committee is working with Global Giving, an organization that serves as a clearinghouse for small charities worldwide. Global Giving was chosen “because it deals with issues that are relevant to the GLBT community, and the SL community at large,” Kamael said. “Any money raised over what we spend to put on the festival will be donated through that charity.”

Pride 2007 involves not only the GLBT communities, but also the Anthro community. “(I)n a very real sense, we’ve decided to celebrate diversity,” Kamael said of this year’s festival. “While this festival is deeply rooted in the GLBT community, even this year’s festival, we do want the entire SL community to celebrate with us.”

Anyone interested in Second Pride 2007 — gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, anthros, and allies — can join the Pride Festival 2007 group. A Google groups mailing list for the event also is up and running.

Written by Veronique Lalonde and originally posted on May 6, 2007 at PixelPulse Magazine. © PixelPulse Magazine and Veronique Lalonde. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: