As many social and cultural gatherings are beginning to be held in the Metaverse, it should come as no surprise that Pride celebrations too will now be help in various environments on the Metaverse. Pride month is held every year in the month of June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.
The events are an effort to create a diverse and inclusive space in the metaverse that is accessible to anyone and everyone irrespective of geographical location or social situation should be able to have access to Pride celebrations.
Akbar Hamid, co-founder of People of Crypto (POC)- a hub for innovation that is dedicated to increasing representation and diversity in the Metaverse, said that this is an incredible way of allowing people from around the world to participate in those events. way they might not be otherwise allowed to participate. “We want Pride Month 2022 to be an event that anyone can attend, even in countries where people are not allowed to participate,” he said.
Although Pride is for everyone and celebrated quite openly in a lot of places, 71 countries around the world are yet to decriminalize being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. To work around this, POC has collaborated with ‘The Sandbox’, which is a blockchain based metaverse project- to launch a virtual diversity and inclusivity hub, known as the Valley of Belonging, during the pride month.
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The Valley of Belonging is a unique youth center, in the Metaverse, that will enable people around the world to celebrate Pride and diversity.
“Marginalized communities are left behind, so the goal of POC with Valley of Belonging is to ensure that every community has access to events they can openly participate in. and LGBTQIA+ and given the current climate of growing discrimination against other minorities, there has never been a more important time to create a safe space that welcomes all.” says Hamid.
Simon Berry, co-founder of POC Lab said that Valley of Belonging will include 8,430 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) avatars that represent different ethnic, gender and sexual identities.
“All of our avatars are non-binary, meaning they do not identify with any gender or sexual orientation. This is also the first NFT project in the sandbox that allows users to customize avatars using pronouns.” Berry explained.
She further added that the avatars would have multiple different skin colors and cultural identifier while also celebrating differences and disabilities.
Further, makeup brand NYX, a subsidiary of L’Oréal, will also integrate into The Sandbox to introduce bespoke makeup looks that will help users customise their avatars to their preference and identity. They also hope to demonstrate the idea that makeup is genderless and allows for communities to express themselves honestly and truthfully.
Decentraland, another virtual world, will enable users to celebrate Pride month this year with a month-long event featuring entertainment, experiences and other content across its metaverse. This time the virtual event location is called MetaPride, which has its headquarters in Decentraland.
“It will provide the global LGBTQIA+ community with a permanent safe place to connect and meet other members around the world. Users will be able to use the space throughout the year, not just during Pride Month, ensuring Decentraland and its partners’ commitment to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.” said Ira Dias, Metaverse Pride Head and Decentraland Senior Producer.
Dias said that Decentraland will host Metaverse Pride on June 11, a celebration honoring the LGBTQIA+ community.
Is the Meta-verse a Safe Space?
Although the efforts to host Pride celebrations at both The Sandbox and Decentraland are truly exciting and commendable, safety and security are still an ongoing challenge in the metaverse.
Communities online are well known for practicing hate speech and racial and bigotry and sexual harassment. Metaverse communities are not different.
Sebastian Bourget, co-founder and COO of The Sandbox, has mentioned that the virtual platforms were taking security very seriously as these kinds of events of sensitive nature were being organised. “Education on safety in the sandbox is key to getting the next billion users into the metaverse.”
It is to be noted that Metaverse Pride has set behavioral guidelines allowing users to block others if they experience harassment.