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Sunday
Nov122006

Second Life Gays

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Turkish Bath
Had to happen, I suppose. There are now gay spaces in the virtual world of Second Life. Check this out - "Haz Pazaar. This is currently the most popular gay-coded space in Second Life (according to traffic numbers in the Places directory in-world). This simulates a fantastic "Turkish Bath" at which men can enjoy the company of other men and engage in virtual sex. "Pose balls" within the space allow users to animate their avatars to simulate various sexual positions. Two users will use paired pose balls to couple their avatars together as they engage in textual cybersex and stimulate each other's (purchased) virtual genitalia, which perform various scripted functions. In the center of the picture one can make out several male avatars wading in the pool. The space takes cues from both a fantasy of a Turkish Hammam (a space segregated by gender in which men notoriously engage in pleasure with each other) as well as providing a virtual version of a modern gay bathouse (there is a shower and sauna upstairs that are more modern then they are exotic).

Is this more a homosocial and homosexual fantasy space than a "gay community" space, even if one acknowledges that it is certainly a space where men engage intimately with men? What is the relation of sexual activity to the formation of community (many would argue that in the case of gay men, a great deal)? I also wonder how many men (or even women!) who live "straight" lives use this space as a means of exploring male-male sexual fantasy."
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Steam
"Steam is one of the older gay builds in Second Life. It attempts to be a more literal replica of a gay bathhouse. It is, again, a homosocial and homosexual space. It includes pose balls and equipment where users can simulate various sex acts and fetishes. Pictures of scantily clad or naked men on the walls code this space as sexual. On another wall, pornographic video plays. Steam is one of the more popular places in terms of number of visitors, though I have rarely seen anyone in the space when I have visited it.

It cannot be denied that sexual activity is found all over Second Life, as it is all over the Internet. Spaces such as these allow men, both gay and straight, to explore fantasies in a safe space. This type of fantasy exploration took (and takes) place in earlier IRC channels and text-based MUDs (see Campbell 2004). To some these type of spaces are liberatory, to others they perpuate the view that gay space is inherently sexual. Why is there a tension between the views?"

Um...dunno mate...why is there tension between them?

More here at "Gay Neighborhoods" on the Cyberspatial Frontier

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