For over 7+ years I have wandered through Second Life from Real Life locations in Baghdad, Singapore, and Washington DC...with trips to Egypt, Indonesia, Paris, Qatar, Lebanon, Thailand, London, and my family's home of Omaha, Nebraska
I have gone from an active duty Marine in the Middle East, to being " lent" to several Government agencies, to now being self-employed in my own successful business. I have served many masters along the way.
I have seen "my" Marine Corps move from a place that excluded gays to an organization that now welcomes us. We have all witnessed governments all around us opening up the institution of marriage to gay people and have seen attitudes change with breathless speed.
I have evolved from a closeted Marine to an openly gay married man, with many turns and obstacles along the way.
The one constant in my life has been the friends and family I have found here in our LGBT community in Second Life.
No matter where I have been, who I was working for, what I was going through in Real Life....My Second Life here, has always been an anchor. It's been the constant in my life for over seven years. The friends I have found here....the people that I have shared with, have been here for me at some of the most important crossroads in my life.
I have brought John, my husband home to spend the holidays with my family. This morning we spent hours delivering food to needy families and had a glimpse of the "other side" It was a chance to reflect on how lucky we are and be thankful. Tomorrow we will go shopping for the meal we will all share on Christmas Eve. I'm looking forward to John being at my family table sharing, and counting our many many blessings.
When I first came into Second Life and our LGBT community, I was stationed in Iraq...living in a "fortress" called the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad. Not much to do or much to see. The work was constant and every week I saw the ugly side of humanity and lost many friends during that tour and the two I spent in Iraq before then.
Second Life was my refuge. A place of calm and escape. It was also a place where I developed as a gay man, living in a gay community, living a gay lifestyle. As the Real world changed around me, it allowed me to transform my real life from what I had become in my Second Life. I'll always be grateful to those of you that helped me along the way.
I want you all to know that the community the you are a part of, the community that you have helped build here, has made the world a better place. Yes we have raised money for charities and causes and that has helped many people around the world....but it's often the little things that have helped cement our community together and make us a strong and lasting part of each of our lives. A hug to a forlorn friend, an offer to help build or an intimate moment in the virtual world that transcends into ones real life. Don't ever be embarrassed about the family you have here or diminish the power of just being here.
It's a cool night in Omaha.
The sky is clear, the air is crisp, and I'm sitting by a warm fire pondering my life and my blessings over the past several years.
I know I have rambled on a bit....but I want you to know of the power of community and how our community has helped me grow and transcend my fears into real life success. I want to thank you and encourage all of you to support our Second Life LGBT community in all it's facets, and depend on the friends you have here and the institutions we have created. Be willing to make new friends from another part of the world and "walk" in another's shoes. Offer your help and always be there to give someone a "virtual" hug. The bodies my not be flesh and blood, but a hug transcends our digital world and it's warmth can be felt on the "other side".
This is a time of year for reflection and a time for all of us to examine what we can do to bring a little kindness and love into the world.
From myself and my new husband I offer all of you my best Christmas wishes and hope for a Happier New Year.
Be kind to each other and recognize the exceptional in everyone you meet.....whether they are in digital or real form.
Love all of you