Reading the article, “Sex Lives in Second Life,” gives insight into the LGBT community in a digital space. I think that people in general whether LGBT or heterosexual are more comfortable talking to someone and meeting people in an online world. As we discuss each week, people have the ability to edit themselves in an online world which can then lead to face-to-face interaction and relationships. Places like Second Life also give people who are hiding their sexuality the ability to explore and “come out.” It is interesting to see another example of how this virtual world mirrors the “real” world. In the offline world, there are gay bars, clubs, and communities where people can meet. My brother is a graduate student at Rutgers Camden and does research at a clinic in Philadelphia where LGBT kids have a place to come and meet others kids. They feel comfortable being themselves at this program because it is a community that everyone is understanding of and accepting of one another’s sexuality. Kids that are bullied in high school or get kicked out of their homes can talk to people in this community which helps them have a more positive outlook on the LGBT lifestyle.
In the article by Brookey and Cannon, we learn that places in Second Life are an extension of the real world and provide places where LGBT people can congregate in virtual spaces. It also helps people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality to explore and other areas of this community. For example, playing as a transgender avatar in Second Life is a very common practice. I wonder if people who play as men avatars that are women, is this considered being transgender? Is the virtual and physical world that separate? Men want to play as women and women want to play as men. The author’s find that, “Not everyone, however, welcomes these transgender avatars in SL; for example, some men who patronize escorts in SL want to make certain the women they solicit have been created, and are played by women in RL” (pg.157). They do this by using a voice verification system to confirm a person’s gender. Therefore showing that even in an online space where people have the ability to be “anyone,” some feel it necessary to confirm a person’s specific gender. Thus, in a relationship and sex aspect, the digital world is not so different from the offline world. Both have spaces where people with different genders and sexualities can feel welcomed and part of a community.