Every Boy Needs a Hobby

After several weeks of extended hours at work and domestic stuff that needed attention, I had a few hours of slack time this weekend so I used it catching up on my imaginary friends in Second Life.

I’ve written about Second Life before: It’s a virtual world, that is to say you control an avatar that represents you walking through an imaginary landscape. For some that means 3-D roleplaying games — you can edit your appearance to look like a knight fighting dragons (or other knights), a 19th-century cowboy, a space explorer, or whatever. For others, it’s an extended social network where you can actually see the people you are chatting with, or at least see what they want you to think they look like. For people with gender dysphoria of any type, it’s a dream come true: You can make yourself over into the woman (or man) you always wanted to be without the real-life hassles of social stigma, expense, and regrets. Just click a button and you become your own sex kitten (and speaking of sex, there are more things you can do besides fight battles with other players, if you know what I mean and I think you do).

Anyhow, for me it’s a combination of the social interaction and a way I can show myself to the world as I really am without the unpleasant side effects like getting beaten to a pulp or run out of church because of the way I dress. Certainly showing up at a party as a muscular, hairy man in a pink dress is a guaranteed conversation starter, even if the conversations tend towards advice on how I can change my appearance to that of a woman. They just can’t grasp the idea that I don’t *want* to look like a woman, I just like to wear the dresses.

Unlike a lot of similar virtual worlds, Second Life has absolutely no limits on how you can modify your appearance or dress your avatar. It’s also free for the most part. You can spend big bucks if you want private land or you want to wear realistic clothes that someone else put a lot of time and effort into, but you can also find enough free stuff to keep you entertained for years without ever spending a dime.

I mention this by way of saying that over five years I have accumulated a LOT of inventory, some of it free and some of it paid for (the real secret to how Linden Labs can afford to give the game away for free… eventually you like the appearance of some trinket enough to be willing to spend real-world money on it, and those micro-transactions of a few pennies to a few dollars add up across hundreds of thousands of players a day).

Mostly, I collect outfits that I wish I could wear in Real Life but could never afford or find that fit me (that’s the other advantage… with a few clicks you can either resize your body to fit the clothes, or resize your clothes to fit the body. Would that it were that easy in RL!). Since I prefer to use an avatar that resembles the real me but buy clothes designed for barbie doll models, this means that I have to put in a bit of work resizing the clothes to fit me.

Today I found an outfit I liked a lot, so I put more time than usual into getting it to fit just right — stretch the skirt to fit around my beer-belly waist, stretch the puffy sleeves to fit around my bulky biceps, stretch the collar to fit around my huge shoulders.

As I finished, it occurred to me… this is another trait that makes it difficult for me to identify with or fit in with my male friends. Most of them are avid hunters, ranchers, and mechanics; they probably spend just enough time indoors to sleep and eat whereas I go outside a couple of hours a day for exercise and the rest of the day and night I’m either asleep or at my computer for work and play. I can’t imagine any of them wanting to spend one second playing dressup with imaginary characters, even without the crossdressing aspect of it. “Wait a minute, you’re saying I should buy pretend boots and a pretend cowboy hat to put on my pretend avatar? Why the hell would I want to do that?” I’ve always tended towards more creative, imaginative pastimes than my male friends as far back as I can remember. It’s one of the things that made me wonder in years past if I was truly transsexual.

Now, of course, I know that’s not the case. I *am* a man, “fearfully and wonderfully made” just as God intended. I just happen to enjoy some activities that are extremely uncommon among men. As I told my children when they were growing up, being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You just have to decide if the way you are different is worth the problems it may cause if you flaunt those differences in a society that, for the most part, abhors that which is different. Being a little eccentric, I can handle; most of my friends think it’s endearing and the ones who despise my eccentric behavior aren’t friends at all. But this side of me… the side that likes to wear dresses and play dressup and socialize in an imaginary world… it’s just not worth it to me to try and convince people that it’s a harmless diversion that doesn’t make me any less of a man than they are.

Their loss!

About Ralph

Male. Straight. Married.
This entry was posted in Second Life. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Every Boy Needs a Hobby

  1. Michael26 says:

    Hello Ralph: ) I felt like sharing some stuff about myself. I don’t know if it’d really be much help to you, but here it goes:
    As you’ve probably noticed, I tend to have beliefs that are a little more “in-tune”, shall we say, with Thorin’s. But I’m not really here to mention that. I guess I had two things I thought I could share with you.
    1) I honestly didn’t know about “Second Life” till you mentioned it one time on Thorin’s web page. Though, less than ten years ago, I was introduced to a game that everyone knows now. . . yes, you guessed it, World of Warcraft, hehe. A friend got me into it, but it didn’t really made a lot of “sense” to me why someone would ever want to play such a game. But I guess that was because before I started playing it physically myself – I use to see my friend play it while I was at his house a lot before I started getting into it. If you know the game, he had a Tauren Hunter – a male one – and it didn’t make any sense why someone would want to play in a fantasy world as a cow that could walk on it’s hind legs!!! I mean, seriously, hehe! But it wasn’t too long after that, that I realized that you could choose from races that were a bit more life-like and “Angelic” shall we say.

    I was pretty much instantly “in love” with a Blood Elf, female, priest! It was an ultimate “feminine delight” to me! At first I was only “dabbling” in it. But then I became hooked! I never leveled this Blood Elf out all of the way. I came to a dead halt at level 54, which when I first started playing 70 was the top, and later it was 80. So I switched to trying to make several different characters; “Trying to find my ultimate love” : ) Eventually I settled on a Draenei “Shammy” – and yes, female of course. Which is sort of funny, because a Draenei is sort of like a Tauren – they both have hooves like a cow, and they both look like a cow. But a draenei for me was a little different. They were more “adorable” to me. And I wound up leveling this character to level 80 ; )

    Well, to move on, I do really miss the game some times – and I even met someone that I still keep in touch with now-a-days. Some that has actually been supportive toward giving up my crossdressing. Though, when I knew her in the game, I think she was more accepting of my desires to crossdress – back in the day when I still played it, I divulged to her my desires at the time to crossdress. And at that time I was crossdressing regularly. And back then I wouldn’t have referred to myself as a crossdresser, I would have identified myself as a pre-transitioning “Transgender-Woman”. This is also something that I told my friend while I was playing, that I was a “Transgendered” person.

    Anywho, one day, out of the middle of no where – and I don’t remember any of the particulars – I stopped playing the game for good. Which for me, was probably a REALLY GOOD thing! I probably didn’t even realize until about 2 months ago, that it was more than merely a REALLY, REALLY addicting game that I couldn’t put down. But I was addicted to it because I could become someone that I could look at and not become ashamed of or repulsed by. I could look at my character and say, “You’re SO beautiful and Adorable! . . . Why couldn’t you, Michael, be more like her?” I never asked myself that consciously, though, I know now that I did many times. I was trying to escape how “ugly”, “unwanted”, “repulsive”, “unimaginative”, “lacking substance and depth” I was! I know about ten years ago, I started really questioning, “why can’t you have the same beautiful qualities that your female coworkers have?” ( At this time I was distant from church and completely isolated from others that were real friends. ) And I guess somewhere along the lines that my admiration for women started becoming so high, that whenever a guy would come around, they’d probably try to change the subject from something more typically “feminine” to something that they could feel more comfortable hearing and talking about – which as guys, I think we both know what I mean. : ) But again, any time a guy would come around, it would somehow “spoil” the moment. I think it became “ugly” for me because I was reminded whenever a guy approached in a female group and started talking, I started transferring those personality traits over to myself – including the negative impact that men were starting to have upon me. By doing this, I started becoming more repulsed and wanting to separate myself from the “Male image”, and I was running with all of my might toward the feminine.

    It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it! I started running to everything feminine – literally! I could only see myself as the world’s view of what masculinity is and not what God’s view of masculinity is! Also, I couldn’t see myself as my own unique individual as a guy too. . . because the more I ran away from masculinity and the more to femininity, the more I could only view the genders as: Male and female. One’s ugly, and the other one’s SO pretty and beautiful physically and personality wise… and that women were also SO MUCH MORE expressive in there emotions and their creativity in their femininity through make-up, clothing, being more “in-tune” with their sense of style. And also, their personality and emotions in our society is usually much more acceptable in it’s range of different traits. For instance, a woman acting all girly-like.

    All of this twisted me up so much inside that whenever someone that was trying to help me to “See the light” when I couldn’t, I was SO MUCH in my head, that I couldn’t rationalize ANYTHING they tried to tell me! And I remember really wanting somehow, to listen and hear because deepdown I knew they were right some how, but I couldn’t “get out of my own head” long enough to interpret what they were really trying to get through to me.

    I guess the biggest thing I’m really trying to say – and I know, it’s taken way more words than it should have taken – is that we as men are our own person. And we can – I believe – in a healthy, productive way, integrate certain, typically-feminine traits into our own. Now I must stress this isn’t something I’d encourage unless it’s with careful consideration and a lot of moderation too. Like for instance, I use certain words in my speech to others in real-life that’s usually more feminine than masculine, but I also keep it to a limit and I try to make sure I’m using it only around those I know that it would cause confusion or someone to stumble.

    Well, I didn’t get to my (second) thing that I was going to share, but I’ll have to another time. I need to get to bed : ) Good night : )

  2. Ralph says:

    Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by. No worries about the verbiage, I’ve always said I can take 10 pages telling you what any normal person would need one sentence to say. I analyze and re-analyze and restate in a different way in case the first way didn’t make sense and… well, here I go doing it again.

    What you describe is, to me, the real danger of crossdressing — the way it consumes your life and distorts your thinking. God has never really convicted me on what I choose to wear, but when I found myself spending money on clothes for myself when my wife was having trouble keeping up with the bills; when I sent my children off to play by themselves because I didn’t want to take off my dress and put on more socially acceptable clothes to go outside with them; when I caught myself getting distracted from work by reading crossdressing blogs and discussion forums… that’s when my heart started hurting and I knew I was going down the wrong road. Then there are the traps that so many others fall into that I only avoided through the grace of God — lying to their wives, substituting the dressing for a healthy sexual relationship, denying my own gender as though God had made a mistake.

    But it took years of work to get here. For a while I thought I might be transsexual, and toyed with the idea of having the plumbing redone. I also assumed I was gay, and it took a scary encounter with a man who wouldn’t say no before I knew for sure THAT was not a direction I wanted to head. I fantasized about going the whole way, with makeup and wigs and breast forms and nails and shaved legs and all that goes with it.

    But that was before I started spending more time with God and scripture. After some 40 years of preferring soft fabrics and skirts to cotton and trousers, I still wear the dresses — they’re just more comfortable and relaxing. But now it’s just about wearing the clothes I like, and not getting sidetracked by pretending to be something I’m not. No bras (or anything to put in them), no shaving, no wigs, no girly name, no different personality traits based on how I’m dressed… I’m always just plain ol’ Ralph, picking my nose and scratching myself in inappropriate places and spilling pizza sauce on my satin prom gown and wadding my silk blouse up in a ball on the floor to be thrown in the washing machine (what is this “dry clean only” you speak of?) with my t-shirts…

    I totally agree about not causing others to stumble. *I* don’t believe that choosing to wear a skirt instead of pants offends God; as I say that’s one area that I have never been convicted about. But I also understand why my friends and relatives would have trouble seeing it from that point of view. Heck, it took me nearly 20 years to understand it myself and stop thinking of myself as a freak, so it’s not like I can expect anyone else to deal with it any more easily. So I’m not willing to cause the grief and division and disruption within my church family that would come about if I decided to take a stand. Given the rough estimates of what percentage of the male population secretly crossdresses, I amuse myself imagining that 5 or so out of 250 fellow church members share my hobby. Particularly amusing considering that most of them are ranchers in this rural, conservative neighborhood.

    Anyhow, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  3. crosswiser says:

    Ralph and Michael,

    I’ve also dealt with the thinking that you both describe and I thought that this May 21 meditation I read from “Answers in the Heart”, a book of daily meditations for those recovering from sex addiction, seemed fitting: “We are who we are. There is only one of each of us….If I am comparing myself to others, I will remind myself that I am unique…” There is more but I think the idea is clear.

    It’s that comparison thinking that often got me to thinking that I’m not like other men. I must be more like a woman then. I feel many things in common with women and don’t always like the way men think and behave. Maybe I should be a woman.

    I think knowing that our Lord accepts us as men (and women) who are unique as all of us are, can keep us from getting to wrapped up in trying to fit in with one group (or gender stereotype) or another. Even those who more readily fit into the stereotype have unique differences in personality and temperament, if one looks deeply enough or one could see all aspects of a person.


  4. Viviennene says:

    Just to come back to the original subject of the post. I have deliberately avoided games with an online social element, MMORPGs or games like Second Life, just because I know how addictive they can be. Having dabbled in early versions, at University, when all the interaction was via text, one of my peers still spent so much time online that he flunked all his exams and was expelled from the course.

    Ralph, I admire that your avatar is a reflection of your true appearance and preferences. For just about everyone else (and here, I admit, it would be me), it would be different, I would draw up an avatar who was the way I would want to appear in my fantasty life. And yes, she would be female, and yes, she would be delicious. I have said elsewhere that I have enjoyed deliberately playing as a female character in games where a choice was offered.

    So… yeah. Best avoided.


  5. Ralph says:

    Actually, Vivienne, I *am* creating the perfect fantasy in my avatar — except in my fantasy, I’m not transformed into a beautiful woman. Instead, the world around me is transformed into a place where I can dress however I like and not suffer any of the dangerous repercussions. Plus, I can just click on a button and magically resize dresses to fit me 🙂

    I know exactly what you mean about the addictive nature of those games. I lost one friend, a former colleague, to Everquest (“Evercrack”) when she played to the point of neglecting her job and her small children and care of herself.

    I’m also a little worried about my wife, who seems to be online every time I am in our bedroom, but for her this is an escape from her physical handicap so I haven’t said anything. The irony is that I got her involved specifically BECAUSE it would be a way for her to have a social life without the need for wheelchair accessibility. And I do enjoy the times we can “dance” together or chat with friends from around the world. I guess as long as she still gets up and does her physical therapy every day and never skips out on real-world activities and responsibilities I won’t intervene, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

  6. Grok says:

    Got a glimpse of Second Life when I came across a DVD in the public library, “Life 2.0”. I’m waiting for virtual reality games. Came across description of (experimental) gaming-in the context of the simulation it is possible to alter the laws of physics. For example, an object dropped will fall up instead of down. I have a yearning, sometimes, to move outside the physical laws that I was born into.

  7. Ralph says:

    Set up an account, install a viewer, and look me up. I’ll be glad to show you around the hot spots!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s