Unless you live in a dark cave (no offense to any 'drows') you've come in contact with some form of alternative lifestyle in Second Life. It isn't really anything new, most of us have just turned our head when we see a huge muscle bound man with no shirt tugging a woman around on a scripted leash - and most of us don't pay any mind to the weird typing when T/they talk about T/their P/partner. I'm sure I fubbed that up - but you know what I mean.
Most of the alternative lifestyles that exist in Second Life also exist in Real Life, though most are far from open about it in SL than in real life. Its Taboo in most cases. I've even come face to face with a few folks in fursuits at Comic Conventions and the like. Whatever floats your boat - I don't really care. My problem lies in those that are evangelical about their alternative lifestyle.
You know the type. They walk up to you and assume you're a complete open book and start preaching their 'gospel' about whatever life they lead. I'm really glad that those folks found a community in which they 'belong' but that by no means translates into "Recruit me!" Am I giving some kind of invisible signal or am I just being too damn nice for my own good towhere those Alternative Folks take my hospitality for interest?
I am the first to admit that I'm a geek. Don't get that confused with nerd, though. Nerds are typically very technologically minded whereas geeks usually aren't. There are exceptions to every rule though, so of course there are some that are borderline. I would consider myself to be a geeky dork since dorks are easily amused and can entertain themselves with what most would deem 'mundane' or 'retarded'. Maybe I should explain further ...
Quite a few of my SL friends are RL friends also - and others have just made their way into RL status. I'm sure most can identify with this. At any rate, like all friends we share many things in common. Of course many of my friends don't share a few of my interests, but no big! We share enough towhere we can carry on a conversation but have enough differences that things stay interesting. That's what friendship is all about anyway, isn't it?
A few of my friends and I are huge geeks. We like comic books and fantasy games/books. We're the type that can sit around and talk about the first Dragon Lance book we ever read like most people sit and reminice about their High School Prom. We don't question it - we're just geeks! Some may say that Geekdom is a form of alternative lifestyle and I can't say I could argue. We have our own lingo, our own means of identifying each other: both of those being two major keys to any lifestyle.
There's literally a lifestyle for anything you could imagine - both IRL and SL. I will agree that SL makes living or faux-living an alternative lifestyle much much easier not only with anomimity but with acceptance. You don't have to search high and low for what you're into - you just need to enter in a few key words into a search bar and viola! Its much better than a forum because unless you're more on the geek side of things - simple reading just isn't enough. In SL you can see your actions portrayed in real time and actually get a feel for what you're seeing. I totally understand!
My geek friends and I play Dungeons and Dragons in SL. It isn't a fact I try to hide, and in this adventure I'm a level 4 Wizard with a feline familiar. Rarely if EVER do I roam the grid in my wizard gear, but we all do dress up IC (In Character) while we're playing. I usually slap myself in Busy mode while we're playing so that I can give it my full attention. However: When I am looking for new leet wizard gear I will traipse around in full geek costume while I shop. One such shopping spree is what lead me to post this.
"I am not a slave. I am a wizard." I bet I said that line thirty or more times in the couple hours I was out shopping for a nice staff. It seemed without fail that every sim I went to that offered 'fantasy' items was full of Gorean men just looking to score some vulnerable wench. I'm not your girl, fellas. I don't have a single thing against Gorean people - as a matter of fact I can see some of its appeal on a geek level. Where else can you get continuous role play? Where else can you go in SL that you know everyone is going to be IC? Even the furry places are full of kawaii faces that seem to make it hard to take anything said on a RP basis seriously. Alright time for another confession: I spent 5 years in a text based RPG full of anthropomorphic felines, canines, lapines, and drakes. I'm a geek I know! But I've totally gone off the main topic and need to claw my way back ...
I used the search tools available to me which are also available to every other resident in SL in order to find myself a new badass staff. I had about 4 hours to find one before we sat down and I had to get my spells together. Four hours may sound like a long time, but it really isn't when you have to pick only ten spells to use for the entire adventure without picking anything stupid that you won't need but which seemed like a good idea to have 'just in case'.
Even folks that have never played D&D are familiar with it so I won't bore anyone to tears with any details. Due to the fact that we play it in SL - our DM builds the maps as we go. We click the dice for our rolls and its far more visual than normal D&D. Even though we're a group of geeks our game time is still filled with lots of LOLs and ROFLs. We are friends afterall - dungeon or not!
Periodically we feel the need to update our character's looks. We never stray far from our sheet, though. As a wizard though, I don't wear any armor. This means I wear the clothes on my back and I rely on my badass spells to save me. Due to the fantasy angle as well as the guidelines which are set out - I have to shop in Gorean themed sims to find clothing. I dont' care, really ... until someone comes up to me and starts preaching. Slender tanned girls with that gross ass weave asking me where my Master is. I don't have one! I'm not a slave! Then they can't understand how I'm not a slave if I'm wearing 'silks'. Oh you mean my wizard garb? Well evidently I'm dubbed Gorean, not wizard.
No one can say anything bad about you if you don't piss them off - that's almost a given. And that applies to alternative lifestyles too. No one can diss whatever life you want to lead unless you do something stupid. The heads on furry avs freak me out - but as a community - never have I been harassed. Yeah sometimes I get sick to death of seeing ^.^ >.> XD n.n I'm only a feminist when its convenient for me (hypocritical I know but its true for a lot of women) because I see feminism as sexist also. Anyway, I can't count the times I've been harassed by Goreans and 3/4 of the time I wasn't even in my wizard stuff which most Gors find to be within their jurisdiction of attempting to wrangle me like a stray cow.
I, personally, find it stupid to assume that everyone is into whatever it is you're doing. Some aren't! I'm totally not for some sweaty, pony-tail donning, shirtless twat waffle of a man dragging me around and me sitting in one damn spot waiting for him to log in ... only to share my attention with some other tramp who's idea of RP is some cheap one-liner. But if that kind of thing is what makes someone happy then go for it - just don't shove it down MY throat.
Sometimes lifestyles cross thread. Like fantasy RP and the Gor scene. There is a difference in a drow dressed in 'silks' and a slave girl in a similar outfit. To most it would all look the same - but its totally different. Its like comparing SL to Mario Kart. Not all RP is sex based and I hate the fact that it seems in SL that its turned that way. Not all RP is about a relationship. Not all relationships stop when you hit that red X in the upper right hand corner.
For those that lead an alternative lifestyle in SL: Keep your lifestyle contained. Not everyone understands it and most won't approve but that doesn't give you any right to smear it in their face. If you want to play slave that's fine: but don't do it in the middle of ETD while I'm shopping for hair. Its one thing to dress the part, its another to make everyone else play along. Even by them reading your text they are being more than tolerant and that should be respected just as much as your decision to lead your chosen lifestyle.
I can only imagine the number of IMs designers get from a girl's Master telling them that "My girl purchased This Outfit on This Date and it does not meet my standards. She would like a refund." And laugh as you may - and some may say "Oh that doesn't happen" it does. A few friends of mine get IMs like that all the time.
I think in general IMs should be considered OOC (Out Of Character). I'm not sure why there is no Guide for Basic RP in Second Life but I wish there was. I can never tell where RP ends and normal conversation begins a lot of times.
When you see someone dressed similarly to you - don't assume that whatever you're into that they are into it also. Most often than not they aren't. Especially when it comes to alternative lifestyles. Maybe they just like the fashion, but don't like all the binding that comes with it.