Second Life Spotlight - Dash Huntsman
By Linden Lab,
Happy Pride Month! Today we are shining a spotlight on Dash Huntsman, an innovative new content creator that considers Second Life to be a safe haven for the LGBTQIA+ and credits the community for their support in his transition journey.
How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life in 2010. Wow, it’s been 13 years! I was playing a mass of other games with a friend. I was really into MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) back then, and they asked me if I wanted to join them on another game. I remember coming online and thinking it was basically a version of the Sims but with other people! She introduced me to a roleplaying sim where I could sword fight and shoot a bow and arrow. I wasn’t very good at it but I felt like I was Xena. I remember having a blast creating all sorts of storylines and getting into mischief. I became a transient on Second Life and have explored different types of communities, and the diversity and creativity in Second Life have always astounded me.
You are new to content creation in Second Life, tell us how you got started and what kind of tools you use to create.
Last summer, I took a leap of faith and saw Joey Macmoragh offering mesh classes tailored for Second Life on my Facebook. I enrolled and have had a blast making content ever since. I opened my store Aardvark right after the class ended on the first week of August. I’ve been hitting the ground running ever since. Honestly, I’m super excited about creating content and get antsy when I’m not making something. I use Blender to create my 3D items. I make everything from scratch, starting with a basic shape, usually a cube. After that, everything goes into substance painter, where I do the textures, and with some luck, patience, and little chaotic flailing, an Aardvark creation is rezzed into Second Life.
Where do you get the inspiration for your creations and what are some of your favorite pieces that you have created?
I get a lot of my inspiration from random memes or jokes. I founded Aardvark on the mindset of food, fun, and decor. I’ll brainstorm randomly about how to make people smile or laugh. My partner also helps me brainstorm different ideas on things she finds on social media. She has just as an imaginative and witty brain. Other people will sometimes drop me random suggestions, and I’m always appreciative and honored when I receive recommendations. I’ll get tagged in the odd meme or random product someone sees in real life, and it’s so cool to think that someone thinks of Aardvark. My top 3 that I hold dear are Sassy Vases, Gingerbread Fighters, and Potatoes.
This meme on my Facebook showed a vase that seemingly looks like it’s judging you. It inspired me to bring this to life. These vases are all personality and say quite a few things back at you when you click them.
I also like to make everything interactive. So much of my stuff makes a funny sound, talks back, or animates the avatar somehow. For example, I made a set of Gingerbread Fighters over the holidays last year, and they were so fun to make that I couldn't help but laugh as they came to life. My partner offered to make sound effects for them, so she practiced “karate” in the hallway, and well, you’ll just have to come by the shop and hear them for yourself to see how that turned out!
Lastly are my positive potatoes and tater family. For some reason putting a face on a potato makes them adorable, and I wanted to inject positivity into the world. So these little spuds were created; sometimes, a potato gift can bring smiles when we don’t have the right words to say.
You credit Second Life for assisting in your journey of self-discovery. Can you share in what ways SL has impacted your life?
I’ve met many amazing people on this platform and will always be in awe of the creativity and talent here. Second Life is a safe haven for a lot of the LGBTQIA+ community. It allows us to express ourselves with the grace of anonymity where we may not be able to express who we truly are in real life. Second Life was the first place people referred to me by he/him pronouns, which was comforting and validating.
2018 I found SL's Facebook community. I didn’t know it existed! It was another way to comfortably express my thoughts through words and photos. I started to blog and was able to express all these complex emotions about my gender identity through photography. I came out as a transgender man in 2019, and I started documenting my social transition on my SL Facebook. I wasn’t entirely confident with coming out in real life with people that knew me personally, but online I was open with all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t feel alone anymore, nor did I want others. I talked with other transgender individuals, parents of children with questions, people questioning, and allies about their stories and struggles. Everyone wants to be seen and heard, and I finally felt that in who I was.
Sharing my transition in such a raw way gave me the confidence to do it in real life. At the end of 2019, I started to seek options to transition medically, and in 2020 right at the start of the pandemic, I started hormone replacement therapy with testosterone. I continued to share the ups and downs of coming out to my family and workplace and how my body changed.
In 2021, through the generosity of friends, family, creators, performers, and entertainers, we created a fundraiser called “From her to Me” to help me get top surgery. It’s a gender-affirming procedure that is a double mastectomy. Honestly, my mind is still blown. On February 14th, 2022, I had my top surgery. I wouldn’t have been able to have this surgery without the help of so many people from Second Life.
I owe Second Life for so many things that have impacted my real life. I've built impactful relationships with many people who have touched my life, and I will forever be thankful. I hope my story can show others that you are not alone. There are a lot of transgender individuals on Second Life, and although the world can be scary, be proud of who you are. It took so long to accept myself finally, and I want you to know that you are just as valid in your journey of self-discovery.
June is Pride month and in Second Life many members of the LGBTQ+ community find this to be a safe space to express themselves and feel empowered. Are there any activities or events that you’ll be taking part in or are looking forward to during this coming month?
I’m proud to participate in a couple of events celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. First, I’ll be participating in several events hosted by Pride at Home. The owners, Tink and Coral, have graciously let me create a Transgender Resource Hub at the Pride at Home Sim. There I’ve left some resources and information to help transgender people and allies. Pride at Home opens June 1st.
In addition, I’ll be one of the judges at the Live Drag Race Competition hosted by SeraPride on June 18th at 5 pm SLT. During the event, Aardvark will match all donations up to L$20,000 to benefit Rainbow Railroad, a non-profit organization that assists LGBTQ+ individuals.
I also have some fun plans and gifts for Pride with Aardvark and will spread some fun shenanigans all over the grid. So stay tuned; I hope to see you all around the grid!
The Transgender Memorial is located at the Transgender Info Hub at the Pride at Home Sim. Each candle is named and represents a transgender or gender non-conforming person who was lost in the act of violence. There are 88 candles in total for the 45 lives lost 2021, 32 in 2022, and now 11 in 2023. We've also included a guestbook to leave messages and a small display of resources about Transgender people in history, basic terms and terminology, and words of kindness.
Tell us about some of the other Residents in SL that inspire you and whose work you admire.
So many people have inspired and helped me along this journey, and I could write a book about each of them. However, some of the residents and creators I admire the most are the ones you never know what they will create next, and I strive to be one of those content creators. Lundy Lovely from Hive has such a fantastic aesthetic, her eye for detail and how she lets customers customize her products are incredible. Kota Kirax at MoonRabbit is one of my favorite brands that create so many outside-the-box ideas and is so witty! I’ve been a long fan of Radio and Lattee Bixley, the creative geniuses behind Junk Food. They bring comforts and nostalgia from the real world into Second Life. Finally, Ikari Ichibara from Tardfish is a creator of the most kawaii things and, honestly, one of the best at cute Animesh! It’s always cool seeing what they all come up with!
Where can people see your work? Please share links to your sites and social media accounts.
Everyone is welcome to stop by the main store located at beautiful Peaceful Shore.
Our marketplace and Flickr have our full catalog
Also, you can view some fantastic work from others with Aardvark items in our Flickr Group
Or our Facebook
Thank you, Dash, for sharing your heartwarming journey with us!
Each of our Spotlight posts features a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup
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