Originally published here.
So there's this guy who's a guy in real life but a girl in Second Life,
even though in real life he's into girls, and then there's this other
guy who's also a guy into girls in real life, and he was playing a guy
in Second Life for awhile, but then decided to be a girl instead, and
then like two months ago, guess what: the first guy met the second guy,
and they fell in love, so now they're a couple-- even though they're
really two guys into girls.
In other words, you know, just another romance in Second Life.
"We haven't really been too sexual," Jade Lily clarifies for me.
"We're like two people who are becoming very close. It's like I have no
concept of gender in Second Life... so the only way i can think to
qualify my heterosexuality is my attraction to a female figure."
So I stopped awhile to chat with Jade Lily and Torley Torgeson, the
female figure in Jade's life. As it happens, I knew Torley when he was
a slim young dude in flowing neon clothes who hauled his keyboard
around everywhere, and though a relative newcomer, quickly charmed
Second Life's citizenry with his quirky, mad creative charm. (His
ongoing journal is one of the strongest Second Life blogs out there--
especially if you're a fan of giant watermelons and sleeping in dumpsters.) Shortly after taking the in-world by storm, however, Torley abandoned his keyboard attachment for the most part, and his gender. And in deference to his wishes-- and what else can you defer to, when identity is so malleable?-- I'm going to abandon the male pronoun when I mention Torley from now on, too.
"Jade's the type of person who I felt I 'knew' early on," she tells
me, "even if I didn't talk that much to her to begin with. It's kinda
like... you have your Pokemon cards or pieces of the puzzle and
whatever, and you suspect someone else has a bunch of the missing
pieces. Well, as time went on, I found this to be true."
"It's just begun," Jade tells me as we sit down in the courtyard of
Jade's Second Life library, last November. "But so far, I get along
great with Torley." To make things more complex (and what's a Second
Life romance without complications?) we're joined at the table by
someone who has a real life history with Jade.
"A girl I dated in high school came into Second Life as a guy," Jade
explains. "We attempted a relationship, but it didn't really work out.
We're just not compatible. That's completely unrelated."
"You see this lil' lady to my right I once dated," says Sage
Maracas, a muscular man wearing dark sunglasses, "I created a male
avatar better than her's. She gave me a [male avatar] skin and it's
been that way ever since. Now every time I go female she gets all
pissy... something about spending money on the skin, blah blah blah."
"I thought it would be interesting to have a relationship with a guy
in Second Life who was actually a girl in real life," Jade explains,
laughing, "and we thought we wanted a relationship at the time."
"You mean in real life?" I ask.
"Something like that," Maracas grunts.
"... [A]nd I think we wanted to salvage that," Ms. Lily continues. "It didn't really work out for either of us, I suppose."
Which brings us back to the relationship which does seem to be working out, at least for the moment, involving the two women nearby who are currently locked in a warm embrace.
"Mmm," murmurs Torley, "it's hard to let go."
I ask them what it feels like, when they see their avatars hug each other.