The digital world has always provided a safe space for people of common interests, beliefs, lifestyles, and even struggles, creating communities as we go. The introduction of the Metaverse has further improved such engagements, and the onset of June only makes for more celebration for Pride Month within Metaverse environments.
The Metaverse provides a unique and safe space that allows people from all corners of the world to join in celebrating events that may be prohibited where they live. Akbar Hamid, the co-founder of People of Crypto Lab or POC, acknowledged how influential the Metaverse could benefit restricted people.
“We want Pride Month 2022 to be an event anyone can join, even in countries where people are not allowed to participate,” said Hamid.
While Pride Month has been accepted and celebrated throughout the world, some countries continue to criminalize being LGBTQIA+. To include the members of those countries, POC collaborated with The Sandbox to launch a virtual diversity, equity, and inclusive space called Valley of Belonging for Pride Month.
“Marginalized communities tend to be left behind, so POC’s goal with Valley of Belonging is to ensure that each community has access to events they can openly participate in,” Hamid explained. “And given the current climate of rising discrimination against LGBTQIA+ and other minorities, there has never been a more important time to build a safe space that welcomes all.”
POC co-founder Simone Berry said Valley of Belonging will consist of 8,430 NFT avatars representing various ethnic, gender, and sexual identities to achieve the goal of “belonging.” The avatar traits will also allow users to select from 36 skin shades. They also have features that celebrate differences, including prosthetic limbs and cultural identifiers like a hijab.
“All of our avatars are non-binary, meaning they don’t identify with any gender or sexual orientation,” explained Berry. “This is also the first NFT project in The Sandbox that allows users to customize avatars using pronouns.”
NYX Professional Makeup, L’Oreal’s subsidiary, will also integrate into The Sandbox to feature voxelized makeup looks that will further help drive adoption.
“In order to demonstrate that makeup is genderless, all of the avatars in our mint, which will take place June 17, will feature makeup from NYX,” Berry added.
Yasmin Dastmalchi, the general manager of NYX Professional Makeup, said that the partnership with POC and The Sandbox is vital for providing communities with a space that allows them to express themselves, adding that the Metaverse “has become a form of digital identity.”