An Excellent Video Essay on Identity, Gender, and VRChat (or, Why Everybody in VRChat Seems to Be an Anime Girl)

One of the best decisions I have ever made as a blogger has nothing to do with this blog: setting up the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, which currently has over 500 members who discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and the many companies building it—and who are often the source of great story leads for this blog!

And so it was that Madman, a member of my Discord community, tipped me off about this great, thoughtful one-hour YouTube video titled Identity, Gender, and VRChat (Why is everyone in VR an anime girl?), by a guy named Strasz. In a world of VRChat videos chockablock with livestreamed shenanigans, racist memes, and tomfoolery, Strasz presents a refreshing alternative: a one-hour, well-edited, thoughtful video essay on issues of identity and gender in VRChat, addressing a commonly-asked question: why is everybody you run into an anime girl?

It’s well worth setting aside an hour to watch this in full (I watched it last night before I went to bed):

The video is divided into five chapters; if you want to skip ahead, the part about anime girls is in the third chapter, but I would strongly recommend you watch the entire thing so you can see the excellent groundwork Strasz lays in creating an academic framework for his discussion, weaving in various research studies (which he footnotes both in the video itself and in the video description, something that gladdened this academic librarian’s heart!).

Now, coming from my 14 years of experiences in the virtual world of Second Life (where I could be, and often was, anybody and anything), I was already somewhat familiar with Strasz’ premise that social VR and virtual worlds give us an unparalleled opportunity to play with gender and identity, but I found I still learned quite a bit by watching this video, and I can recommend it highly! And I agree with his assertion that adding virtual reality to the mix greatly adds to the feeling of actually embodying your avatar representation in VRChat.

(If this topic intrigues you, you might also be interested in a 2017 blogpost I wrote about sex and gender issues in virtual worlds, and how some worlds impose artificial restraints upon non-binary users, forcing them into male or female roles.)

If you want more of this (and I certainly do!), then follow Strasz on Twitter or Twitch, check out the rest of his videos on YouTube, or join his Straszfilms Discord server. I look forward to future video essays!


Thanks to Madman for the heads up!

Social VR Research Alert: You Can Participate in a Clemson University Research Survey of LGBTQ+ Users of Social VR Platforms

Back in October of 2019, I wrote a blogpost about a research study being conducted by Clemson University on the use of social VR. Well, Clemson University’s Gaming and Mediated Experince (CU GAME) Lab, led by Dr. Guo Freeman in their School of Computing, is conducting a survey of LBGTQ+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer, etc.) users of social VR platforms—including conducting interviews in AltspaceVR, Rec Room and VRChat, if you wish!

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are interested in being interviewed for 60 to 90 minutes about your experiences in social VR, particularly with respect to self-presentation and social support, then you are invited to fill out this online form (more information about the research study can be found here). The form states:

We are a group of academic researchers at Clemson University who are conducting a research project about social VR. We are interested in interviewing individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, and understanding their experiences.

No personally identifiable data will be asked or collected, but we’ll ask general demographics questions (age, location, race, etc). You do not have to answer any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering.

If you have experienced any social VR platforms / applications / environments (AltspaceVR, Rec Room, VRChat, etc.) and are willing to be interviewed, please fill out the form … and we will contact you for more details about this research project.

Here is the link for a document with more information about the study.

Feel free to email us at dacena@clemson.edu if you have any questions.

Interviews are to be scheduled during the month February, and can be done via telephone call, Discord (text or voice chat), Zoom (voice or video chat), or even on the social VR platforms AltspaceVR, Rec Room, or VRChat!

If you are interested, here is a the website (including a list of current research publications) by the Clemson University GAME Lab.

Are you a member of the LGBTQ community and use one or more social VR platforms? Clemson University wants to interview you! (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: the Jackalope Pride Hunt (Plus Free Pridewear for Men and Women from 28LA, and Free Gifts from the SL Pride Festival!)

To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride, Jackalope is throwing a 50% off sale, and they are also holding a Pride Hunt. The hunt items are free and you do not need to join the Jackalope store group to get the individual hunt items, which all together make up a complete rainbow outfit!

Everything Vanity Fair is wearing in the pictures below—the fishnet crop top, skirt, badges, earrings, bracelet, the wonderful combat boots with rainbow socks, even the Bento pose and the backdrop!—is a hunt prize from the Jackalope Pride Hunt.

One of the free hunt prizes is this wonderful, colourful backdrop! The collection of balloons to the left and right are separate items and you could easily reuse them for other celebrations such as birthday parties:

Now, I should caution you that many of the hunt prizes are rather fiendishly hidden all around the store (including the ceiling!). If you get frustrated, here’s a pro hunt tip from Auntie Ryan 😉 …in the Firestorm viewer, if you press Ctrl-Shift-R, it will turn on wireframe mode (which is essentially X-ray vision). Press Ctrl-Shift-R again to toggle it back off. (If this feels like cheating to you, then don’t use this tip.)

Here’s your taxi to the Jackalope store. The Pride Hunt ends on July 5th, 2020. Happy hunting!

Vanity Fair is also wearing:


This next Pridewear freebie is from a store called 28LA, and it is a doozy! Teleport to the store, and click on the rack of clothing outside, and you will receive a Pride collection of apparel, with designs for for both male and female avatars! The male clothing comes in sizes to fit Belleza Jake and Signature Gianni mesh bodies, and the female clothing is designed to fit the Belleza Freya, Slink Hourglass, and Maitreya Lara mesh bodies.

The Free Pridewear Collection from 28LA

Finally, we have the Pride Festival in Second Life, which runs from June 24th to 28th. Most of the vendor booths at this event have free gifts (you will have to join the free Pride Festival group to get them). Here’s a look at three of the many gifts:

  • this colourful eye makeup from ALMA (system/Bakes on Mesh, plus Catwa, LeLutka and Omega appliers);
  • the Proud Lips by Dotty’s Secret (system/Bakes on Mesh, plus Catwa, Genus and Omega appliers);
  • and the rainbow Dora dress by Le Fil Cassé!

Happy Pride month!

Question for My Second Life Readers: Where Are All the LGBTQ Meeting Places in Second Life?

Second Life has seen a resurgence of returning users in recent months, as a result of the imposition of social distancing policies, lockdowns, and quarantines in the face of the ongoing public health crisis that is the coronavirus pandemic.

I recently received an inquiry from someone returning to Second Life after an absence, who asked me:

You seem nice and knowledgeable here: I have been on SL 15 years ago or so, and would now like to return and find gay places, ideally catering to bears and chubs. But that’s not a mandatory at all.

I just wondered whether you know a place that’s a little busy – all places I went to were deserted.

Thank you so very much in advance!

Now, this is a puzzler for me. When I first set foot into SL fourteen years ago, I used to frequent any number of gay bars, fun places that were packed full of avatars. Over time, many of those places had closed down.

When I replied that there used to be a couple of spots for bears (i.e. chubby or overweight gay men, usually but not always bearded and/or hairy, hence the name “bears”), but that they had long since shut down, he replied:

Thank you very very much, you’re my star – not easy finding one’s way here nowadays with so many places deserted!

Are there any other places where simply a lot of gay guys go, also non-bears?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

So, I thought I would broaden the question to include spaces welcoming to all LGBTQ folks in Second Life, and throw the question out to you, my faithful readers:

Where are the places in Second Life where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people can gather and meet each other? Please note that I am not talking about the places where you go to have hookups or sex (God knows, those are easy enough to find!).

I will compile all the responses received as updates to this blogpost, and I will keep this blogpost updated as new information comes in about community spots, since they tend to change over time.

Please feel free to submit a comment. Thanks in advance for your help!