The LGBTQ+ VR Museum won the inaugural Tribeca Immersive New Voices Award as it curated a number of really touching virtual objects, art, and stories from LGBTQ+ people. Antonia Forester started the project after discovering that there was not a physical LGBTQ+ museum that she could visit in the UK, and so she turned to her skills within VR development, production, and direction to create a virtual LGBTQ+ VR Museum in collaboration with VR developer Thomas Terkildsen.
I spoke with Forester at Tribeca to get more context about her journey into VR, the process of creating and curating the museum, and some of the emotional reactions she was receiving at Tribeca. It takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes to see everything in the museum, and I found that were some objects and stories that really hit me emotionally.
Overall, I left the experience with a much better understanding about various themes of identity, shame, acceptance, rebellion, and hope, but also normal human experiences that went beyond the LGBTQ+ specific themes. Forester’s allowed each LGBTQ+ subject to select any object or theme they’d like without any restrictions, and so the end result reflected the full breadth of human experience, and allowed visitors to hopefully find some stories they could identify with and related to regardless of their own identity. I found the LGBTQ+ VR Museum to be a very emotionally-evocative experience that shows the power and potential of designing virtual spaces filled with individual stories that can tell a larger collective story that goes beyond any one singular narrative.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast, a podcast that looks at the future of immersive storytelling and spatial computing. And if you'd like to support the podcast, you can do so at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So continuing on my series of looking at some of the different projects featured at the Tribeca Immersive, one of the pieces that actually won the Best New Voices prize at Tribeca this year, which is a new category featuring new emerging voices within the context of immersive storytelling, Antonia Forster's LGBTQ Plus Museum was a really powerful and emotionally evocative piece that Antonia was looking for a museum that she could go to in the UK where she could have something that reflected her identity, but also Her own experiences, but there wasn't any physical museum there in the UK at least at the time when she was looking for one So she decided to create one for herself within virtual reality since she's senior XR technical specialist at unity and had the capability to build the worlds that she wanted to see exist and so she'd recruited and curated all these different objects that mostly were connected to the LGBTQ plus but not exclusive to that it's also people who happen to be LGBTQ2+, and some of the other varieties of the spectrum of the human experience on top of that. And so it's a really, really powerful and emotionally evocative piece as you go through and look at these different optics and get more of an archetypal complex of the overall themes that are similar, but also the diversity and the full spectrum of what it means to be human. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of Oasis VR podcast. So this interview with Antonia happened on Saturday, June 11th, 2022 at Tribeca Immersive in New York city, New York. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:52.108] Antonia Forester: So my name is Antonia Forster. In my day job, I'm the senior XR technical specialist at Unity. So I create VR and AR demos and applications to get people started with Unity. But in the context of Tribeca, I'm exhibiting a piece of work that I made independently. It's the world's first LGBTQ plus virtual reality museum.
[00:02:10.293] Kent Bye: Maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into VR.
[00:02:14.343] Antonia Forester: Yeah, absolutely. So it's quite unusual. I actually come from a zoology and animal behavior background. I used to work in zoos and science centers as an educator and a speaker. In 2017, I gave a TED Talk around LGBTQ in the animal kingdom and how people say it's not natural. But as a queer person and a biologist, I felt uniquely situated to say, no, actually, it's very natural. Not that that's even really relevant. So I gave that talk and as part of that talk I wanted to be clear about my own queer identity. So I had to come out to my family and it didn't go very well at all. Some members of my family responded really negatively with insults and threats and blackmail and I had to cut contact with a large majority of my family and we're still separated to this day. As a result of that I had some financial difficulties and so I decided to move into technology to sort of liberate myself and allow myself to live independently and openly and honestly as a queer person. So I taught myself to code. I used mainly YouTube and I think a course on Udemy. So I'm completely self-taught. I don't have a computer science degree at all. I've never had any formal training. And then after about a year of that, I ended up in my first software developer job working for a company called Ultraleap, who specialize in hand tracking, making Unity demos. And after a year there, I got a call from Unity actually about a software support role as a kind of customer service representative. And I said, well, you know, I see this other role you have as an evangelist. I think I'd be really good at that. So I went through for that. I ended up as a technical specialist, and now I'm a senior XR tech specialist at Unity.
[00:03:39.177] Kent Bye: OK. Wow. Yeah, that is quite the journey there. And I saw you give a speech somewhere. I forget where. Where was that? Lethbridge. Lethbridge. Yeah, that's right. That's right. OK, yeah. We were part of the Lethbridge. And what were you? You gave a really good talk. What was it?
[00:03:52.995] Antonia Forester: How to build a metaverse. Yeah. Okay.
[00:03:54.797] Kent Bye: Yeah. Is that part of the type of content that you're producing and delivering for unity or was that something that was your own?
[00:04:00.022] Antonia Forester: So that was with Mike independently. He approached me as a, so I speak on diversity, equity, inclusion independently outside of my role. So I do consultancy work and I talk about the gender gap in tech and that's obviously something that's quite near and dear to my heart as a woman in tech, especially being self-taught. especially being a queer woman. And so I do do talks outside of that. And so the metaverse is obviously a lot of talk around it. And I was approached by Mike just as a thought leader independently to talk about what I thought about it. And what I find with the metaverse is there's a lot of talks that are very serious in terms of their style and very businesslike. But actually, they don't have much substance. They don't have a lot of clear, factual information. It's kind of more projection and guesswork, which is fine, because it is kind of guesswork at this stage. But I wanted to create something that looked really silly and looked really lighthearted, but actually had some really serious and useful technical information about how would we identify a metaverse? What does that mean? And so I created these traits of the metaverse, things that people would more strongly associate. So for example, if something has multiplayer, that would kind of usually be seen as more metaverse-like than something that's single player. if it has elements of presence and immersion that's seen as more metaverse-like than something that's purely 2D. So I created these traits and I presented this talk comparing different experiences and presenting the metaverse more as a spectrum of experience rather than this binary, which you can see why my kind of involvement with the LGBTQ community informs my paradigms and thinking of things as a spectrum more than as a binary is kind of my mode of thinking.
[00:05:23.700] Kent Bye: Yeah, definitely see that. And maybe you could take me back to the moment when you realized that you wanted to create the LGBTQ plus museum in virtual reality. Like, what was the catalyst for you?
[00:05:34.548] Antonia Forester: Yeah, that's a great question. So about two years ago, I was reflecting on my journey as a queer person and my family's reaction. And one of the reasons I love VR in particular is I have this control where I can make these virtual worlds where I can present however I want and I can be whoever I want, I can be wherever I want. And I don't fear for unexpected negative consequences. I'm kind of in complete control of the world around me, which is not something that I experience as a marginalized person. in the real world. And I really felt that if my family and other people who have had experiences like mine, if their families had been into a museum and a beautiful space that celebrated and normalized and centered queer stories, that maybe they would have a different view on things and they would understand that actually these people are normal and deserve respect and dignity the same as anyone else. So I looked to see if online there were any queer museums. I also wanted to go for my own sake because I felt if I was surrounded by these stories, even though I wasn't connected to the queer community for a long time because out of necessity and safety I was living in the closet for most of my life, I felt that that was a space I could go without outing myself where I could be surrounded by that community and hear those stories and and feel normalized and feel dignity and feel not alone. So I wanted to visit a physical one. I assumed there was one. I looked it up and there isn't a single LGBTQ plus dedicated museum in the UK. And I was really shocked to find that out. So I thought, well, someone should probably do something about that. And I don't have the resources or the money or the contacts to curate a physical museum, but I do have the technical skills to build a virtual one. So I figured, well, I guess that someone's going to be me. So I started to build this by myself, just, you know, in my evenings, part time. And I put out a call to action on Twitter and I told people what I was doing. And it just generated this huge wave of support. I ended up with about 20 people volunteering significant contributions. So people volunteering there, helping to scan objects and clean them up. Two musicians created an original score for the piece, just completely voluntarily. And I had 15 different queer people who volunteered their stories, and 25 different queer artists who volunteered their artwork for the space. So it's really become this huge community effort. I worked very closely with a co-developer in Denmark called Thomas Tekildsen. He's a psychology PhD student, and he works very closely with adaptive VR content. So he's been my co-creator since I've discovered him through starting this project, and we've built this together.
[00:07:47.290] Kent Bye: Yeah, so I'd love to hear a little bit more about your curation process. Did you go beyond the initial Twitter call? Did you reach out to individuals? So maybe you could talk about finding the right stories and objects for this museum.
[00:07:58.745] Antonia Forester: Yeah, I wanted to make sure that, you know, I'm a white person. I wanted to make sure that I didn't end up centering just white stories because statistically people tend to have social circles that are the same gender as them, the same age range as them, the same ethnicity as them, for example. So I do work with a group in my city, Bristol, which is called Kiki Bristol. It's a group for queer people of colour. And so I reached out to them asking, would there be any queer people of colour interested in being involved? I reached out to people I knew personally. I also posted on sites online, so on different Facebook groups, saying, you know, are there any queer people who are interested in contributing their stories? So one person I reached who has one of my favorite stories, I don't know her personally. I met her just once for this project. She's in her mid-60s and her object that she chose was a pair of wedding shoes and she bought them when gay marriage wasn't legal and it was almost a joke. They used to buy things that they couldn't afford for an event that would never happen. And she had them for so long, so many decades. And then eventually, queer marriage was legalized and she did actually wear these shoes. And she actually gave me her wedding shoes to take photos and scan, even though I'm a complete stranger. And I just thought that was so beautiful. And she spoke to me about how, as a woman in her mid-60s, she'd lost a lot of queer friends during the AIDS epidemic. And so for her, part of the significance of the space was having these queer stories preserved in a place that can't be attacked, it can't be burned down, which is really a thing that places that celebrate queer stories are under physical threat all the time. There are clubs and statues and museums where they get destroyed through acts of hate. And so having a digital virtual museum means that that can never happen. This can never really be destroyed. It will always live as this time capsule.
[00:09:26.582] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I thought it was really powerful to see both the object and then the story and then there is the written text but there's also like audio recordings. I'd love to hear about your process of laying out the museum and if you went to museums and really studied or like trying to boil down the essence of what the museum experience was to be able to recreate that virtually.
[00:09:46.364] Antonia Forester: That's a really great question. So I used to work in, as I said, zoos and science centers, but also science museums and discovery centers. And so the way those are laid out is thinking about that user journey. But actually for this museum, I really wanted it to be almost self-curated. So when we chose the stories, we didn't want to lead people too much. And we really just approached queer people and said, if you were represented in a museum, if there was one object from your life that represented you, what would it be and why? And just explain that to me. And please give us an audio clip that is no longer than about three minutes. And that was really it. And people chose things that I didn't expect. So as someone who has a lot of trauma associated with being LGBT, and that being such a formative part of my life, I kind of expected that that was representative. And I initially thought we'd get a lot of stories around trauma and around challenges and difficulty from family and maybe friends or people in their lives who didn't understand. And actually, I addressed my own assumptions because people submitted stories about joy, celebration, about marriage, about their friendship and their allies. And one story in particular, my friend Sharifa, She says, I'm a black, queer, polyamorous activist. I'm a footballer. I'm a gender non-conforming woman. But most of all, I'm a plant mom. And I really enjoyed that because, you know, people put us in these boxes and they assume that because we're part of this marginalized group, that's going to be the most formative part of our identity. That's going to be what we want to bring front and center. And that's not always the case. Another story, actually, the co-creator of the museum, he spoke about OCD and his struggle with being neurodivergent. And so being queer is one facet of our identity, but I wanted to create a space that celebrated stories of queer people that were self-selected, not necessarily always about their experience of being queer, because for some people that's not the most formative thing that they've experienced. There's also stories in there about being mixed-race and being queer, or the intersectionality of being black and queer, and so everyone has a very different experience. So I really wanted people to choose what represented them for themselves.
[00:11:34.374] Kent Bye: I found that some of the objects are very connected to gender, like fingernail polish as an example, where, you know, it's something that is typically seen in female-identified people. So there seem to be objects that are on one side or the other of what people perceive as a gender binary. And yeah, I'd love to hear any reflections of the types of objects that you felt like if there were either themes or things that were kind of striking to you that as I go through the experience, I see like there's these little bits like that, like these little objects that give one fragment of a story. But then the overall experience of going to the museum was telling us much larger stories. So it was taking all these different fragments and shards and coming up with a larger archetypal complex of what the experience was. That may be the universal experience, but also something that may be very specific to other individuals.
[00:12:20.319] Antonia Forester: Yeah, absolutely. For me, I think the common theme that I saw was that when people were represented, they wanted to choose an object of affirmation. That was the most common theme. So for one person, it was a torch because they saw someone in an interview who the lights turned out on them to make them stop talking. And that person turned on a torch and said, I make my own light. You can't stop me. And for them, that was a moment to help them come to terms with their trans identity, to say, actually, I don't need your affirmation. I can make my own life. It was a metaphorical significance. For someone else, it was a knife. It was an object associated with what's a prop knife, because she does a live action role play in theater. And for her, exploring her sexuality in theater allowed her to come to terms with her bisexuality. even though she's married to a man and, you know, has been for 20 years. And so with bisexual people, like myself, often erasure is one of the big problems we face and the idea that, you know, if because we're straight passing that people will assume we are straight and our identity will be erased. So what I saw really commonly was, you know, with nail polish, there were pronoun badges. People chose objects that really affirmed their identity and that was what they wanted to show as one single artifact. That's the most common theme that we saw.
[00:13:22.492] Kent Bye: Yeah, one of the other striking objects was a James Baldwin book and the story behind the person who had that book was trying to come out to their parents and hoping that their parents would just stumble upon this as a book. And that never happened, but just the fact that there's like these experiences of being a key part of your identity that's hidden or occluded and that you are trying to reveal that, but in a way that is subtle. Yeah, just, I don't know, there was something about that particular story that captured that. almost the exile within the LGBTQ plus experience of feeling like it's a piece of information that if is revealed may cause being ostracized or being exiled and so just something about that book and the subtlety on that was something that was really striking to me as a tactic of trying to leave a little breadcrumb that would be discovered and then connect the dots without having to explicitly put yourself in the front lines of that.
[00:14:17.946] Antonia Forester: Yeah, definitely. So the really interesting thing is, while exhibiting here at Tribeca, we've had such strong reactions from people, but to different objects. There's not one singular object that people seem to always favorite. People really respond differently to all of them. And what I've seen is it's whatever connects with them. So we've just had someone come through, actually, who said that the book resonated with them because they did the same thing. They had a book that they left lying around the house in the hopes that their family would start a conversation about them being gay. And so when they saw that, they were nearly crying, saying like, it's so striking that someone has had such a similar experience. And yeah, I think it's really interesting to see that we all have, you know, the queer community is really diverse. We all have very different experiences, but at the same time, some of them are really common. And as you said, trying to come out in a way that doesn't jeopardize you and put you in danger, particularly when you don't you really don't know how people will react, that it can be really physically dangerous. You could be putting your life at risk, your safety at risk, your financial security, your loved ones and your connections to your family. You risk so much that trying to find tactics to navigate that is, I think, something that we do all have in common. But seeing someone really one-to-one have that exact same experience is really striking to me as well.
[00:15:24.818] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I found myself, as I was going through the experience, actually picking up the objects and kind of looking at it, and then reading the text, but as I'm reading it, kind of looking at it, and so I felt like there's something about the virtual nature of the museum that invited me to actually participate in a way that I wouldn't normally do in a physical museum because you're trying to preserve the integrity of the physical object, but in the virtual context, it allowed me to engage and interact. It wasn't anything beyond picking up the objects and looking at them, but I just appreciated being able to at least have that virtual experience of reaching out and touching things and being able to really analyze things at the same time with taking in the story, but seeing the object and trying to connect the story with the object in that way.
[00:16:04.039] Antonia Forester: Yeah, I think that was really important. We, for Tribeca especially, we wanted to look at the people's emotional reaction to the story and so I think you're much more likely to have, I mean I don't have the statistics on this, but I feel you're much more likely to have an emotional reaction if you can really engage with the object and pick it up, even virtually, look at it from all angles and obviously there's no damage risk to the item, which with a physical museum it's very hands-off, it's very much look and don't touch and there's a sense of separation and I wanted people to really feel involved and feel connected because all of these people are contemporary they've given their stories last year to this museum so they're all very much around and like these are very modern stories so I wanted to make sure people felt involved and felt connected personally and For each object, of course, you hear the owner's own voice, and that was extremely important to me, that you would hear that person choosing what they wanted to say in their own voice and how they wanted to say it, and just self-selecting how they wanted their experience to be preserved, because that's a privilege that often marginalized people don't have.
[00:17:02.703] Kent Bye: And I was following the discussions on Twitter and saw that you had gotten accepted to Tribeca, but then once you get accepted here, then there was a whole other aspect of needing to have an installation, and this moment of all these other obligations you have in your life, and all of a sudden you have to produce this installation to participate in this festival. So maybe you could talk a bit about that aspect of this journey.
[00:17:22.382] Antonia Forester: Yeah, it's been challenging, I'll say that. So, the museum is just built by me and, as I said, my co-developer, Thomas. And then for Tribeca, we've been working with Albert Millis of Virtual Umbrella, who's really been a huge help in helping us produce the physical installation. We wanted something new to premiere at Tribeca. It's important that you do have that as part of the eligibility criteria. So we've added this biometrics element. So our installation at Tribeca has, well, we've essentially built a physical museum, which is kind of ironic because the reason we built the virtual one is we didn't have the resources to build a physical one and we've had to find those resources quite quickly, which has been part of the challenge is finding those resources. It's not straightforward at all. So we've got three walls and we've built sort of a replica of the museum. We've got plinths with some of the real objects which we've carefully shipped over and we have prints of some of the real art on the walls all by queer creators. But we also have two huge 75-inch monitors which you will have seen and we're capturing the user with a depth camera so they can see themselves on the monitor as a sort of sparkling avatar. But we're also driving it with biometrics. So the user wears a consensus shimmer GSR device that measures their heart rate and their skin conductivity, which we can use as a kind of crude proxy for emotional engagement. So we can see whether the person is very engaged with the content and the colors of the avatar will change accordingly. We're showing that on the monitor so they and passers-by can see but obviously once you're in VR you wouldn't be able to see it. So what we've done is we're streaming that portrait into the virtual museum as well and you're also surrounded by these sparkling particles throughout the museum so you can see them change color and change depending on your emotional involvement as you reflect on these stories. So we added all of that for Tribeca. Of course we also produced this physical installation, we've got in touch with manufacturers and there was a lot of logistics and coordination. We've also had the artist Patricia Cronin come and visit and help represent for us. So Patricia is the artist behind Memorial to a Marriage, which is the centerpiece of the museum. It's a three-ton Carrara marble statue, and it depicts her and her now-wife, Deborah Cass, lying horizontally on a mattress. And it is the world's first and still only LGBTQ plus marriage equality monument. It's the 20th anniversary this year of that monument. So it was created in 2002 when gay marriage wasn't legal. And the reason she created it is because of the non-legality of gay marriage. The only federal documents that recognize queer relationships are death documents like wills or a power of attorney. So your relationship is only really acknowledged in the event that one of you is incapacitated or dies. So Patricia's stance was, well, I'm going to make sure that what I don't have in life will certainly be acknowledged after my death. And in order to also be a woman acknowledged in public sculpture, which there is a dearth of in the United States, you have to buy your own plot of land. So she bought a cemetery plot in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, and she created the work as a future mortuary sculpture. So it's actually installed on her and her now wife's future resting place. And the marble is on tour. It goes to different galleries, but there's now a bronze installed there. And it's on permanent exhibition, so anyone can visit it. I think it's really beautiful. I actually discovered her work a long time ago when I was a teenager and I was living in a household where I was in the closet and furtively searching online for information about being queer and are there queer adults? Is this a phase like everyone's telling me? And I discovered the statue on Tumblr of all places and it really felt like someone had reached out to me across space and time who didn't know me and had taken my hand and told me that actually I wasn't alone, that my feelings are valid and that I could be a queer adult and be happy and be alive and that this was something that was possible for me. And so when I started building this museum a year and a half ago, I knew that I really wanted this statue to be the centerpiece. So I reached out on Twitter and said, does anyone have contacts with Patricia? And like much to my shock, she got back to me directly and said, I recognize in you what I saw in me. You're building something that you need that doesn't exist. And that's why I made my sculpture. So I'd love to participate. And we've been talking over Zoom for about a year. I sent a friend of mine to scan the marble statue with photogrammetry. and we replicated it, and it's the centerpiece of the museum. And as of about three days ago, we met for the first time in person, and it's one of my favorite outcomes of the project. It's such an honor to be connected with her and to have her support with this project.
[00:21:21.331] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's a really powerful story. Thanks for sharing that additional context about that, because, yeah, I think that I saw that piece, and again, an affordance of VR to be able to replicate some of these things without any of those constraints. Yeah, I think for me, I had this experience of having individual experiences really hit me emotionally. For whatever reason, it just really hits me. But when I went through the experience, while I had all the biometric sensors, It was like five or ten minutes, or it wasn't a long time to be able to see. It's like a half hour worth of stuff, and I ended up going in later with no constraints of just to kind of look around. And I felt like, in some ways, the biometric sensors were almost like objective empirical evidence of whether or not I'm having the proper or the right emotional reaction. And I felt like, oh my gosh, am I going to be judged by having, like, an experience, but I'm not, like, having an emo- because it sort of says high and low emotional engagement. It felt like, oh no, I'm low. But there's also this thing of like, OK, what degree is the real emotional impact that I had? Even if I were to have that with all the sensors, would it be able to pick up what I'm feeling? And so I feel like there's a risk there that actually can break presence, for me at least, of like make me feel almost disconnected and afraid rather than sort of just be not worry about if there's any external devices judging or measuring my emotional reaction. So I had kind of a conflicted experience with that aspect of that.
[00:22:50.345] Antonia Forester: Yeah, that's really interesting. Thank you for that. No, I hadn't. So something we did consider, as I said, my co-developer is a psychology PhD student, and we thought very carefully about when you're measuring people's emotions, there are lots of, you know, different ethical considerations. So one of the considerations we have is what if we accidentally out people? You know, what if people are responding really strongly to queer content in a way that they don't want people to see that, right, to make that public? So one of the things we decided not to do is to actually discern which emotion it was. As I said, we just look at heart rate, skin conductivity, so it could be fear, anger, disgust, hostility, empathy, we don't discern. And, you know, that's kind of, we could with things like face tracking, but that's out of respect for the user. And also, although we have this display, which is visible to passers-by of just the colors changing, we never show what the user is actually looking at. because we really wanted to make sure that they had the anonymity. They might just be walking around. There's also noise interacts with it, of course. If you start waving your hand, your heart rate will go up quite a lot. And that's nothing to do with your emotions. That's just to do with the biometric measures that we're taking. So it's a relatively crude system. So yeah, we didn't discern what the user's looking at. We don't discern what your emotion is. We also don't store it at all. We just kind of visualize it in real time and then immediately discard it. And of course, the user themselves is anonymized. But yeah, no, I totally understand your concern there. And I think that's really valid. Personally, I like the kind of more natural version of the museum. So we have a version that we would more typically exhibit, which also doesn't have a time limit. So you can explore it by yourself infinitely. And I've had people stay in there for an hour. And just because of the logistics of doing a film festival, we had to put a time limit on it, which is a shame because I really love seeing people spend, really honestly, I've seen people spend an hour and a half in there. It's crazy. And yeah, so we've made various versions to meet the different logistical criteria. But I totally understand where you're coming from.
[00:24:29.752] Kent Bye: Yeah, luckily here at the festival they have machines that have access to the Museum of Other Realities version that doesn't have those constraints, and that's where I was able to look around. I guess one other aspect in terms of the experience of this is, have you thought about adding the social dimension for people to go together to this museum?
[00:24:47.026] Antonia Forester: Yeah, that's something we've considered. So we could, for example, build a space in VRChat so we could make it openly accessible as a kind of meeting space, which would be incredible. I spend a lot of time in VRChat with other queer people in particular, so I think that would be beautiful. We can add multiplayer. I have noticed that people have a really strong emotional reaction, I think partly because they're there alone. I think it really gives you this ability to connect one-to-one with these stories and not feel judged by anyone else. And because you have this headset on, you know, we've had about five people today cry coming out of the experience. And some of them very open, some very subtly. And I think when you have a headset on and people can't see that that's happening, you know, I always make sure people have some aftercare and some debrief them and say, is this OK? Because I can obviously some of the stories we don't have anything about physical assault or anything that would be really traumatic. We didn't want people to relive anything like that. But some of the stories just like my own, for example, it can be quite triggering if people have been through something similar or even the more lighthearted ones that can obviously speak to something very personal. So we've had quite a few people come out very moved, usually in a good way, and we'll talk to them afterwards. We've got staff on hand to kind of check in with them and see how they're doing. And I'm, yeah, I'm really touched by how moved people are, and I think part of that is because it's a one-player experience, because you have this privacy that you can connect. But we absolutely could add in multiplayer. The only limitation and reason we haven't done that yet is honestly the size of our team. It's me and one other developer doing it part-time, you know, while we're both working full-time jobs. And, you know, we have a lot of our own struggles as marginalized people that we're going through. So we're also both neurodivergent. I have ADHD and my co-developer has OCD. So that's been an additional layer of complexity on top of that. I think that's part of why we were able to do this project because I decided to be crazy enough to start it and he was sort of perfectionist enough to finish it. So we worked really well together, but at the same time it was really ambitious for two people. And then thank goodness we had, you know, a producer to help us with the physical installation. But yeah, moving forward, it's on our roadmap. We'd like to add a few more things. So currently we're wheelchair and seated accessible because we have a snap turning feature. And if you drop an object, it moves back up to where it was. So you don't ever have to bend down to pick anything up. And also the plinths are at height where wheelchair users are able to reach them. So we do have seated accessibility. It's also deaf and hard of hearing accessible because we have subtitles throughout the experience. We'd love to add multiple languages because currently it's English only. We'd love to add more accessibility features and also expand the number of stories. So because it's a virtual museum we can have an infinitely large archive. So we're hopefully going to be working with the Danish consulate to be making a New York specific version which is going to exhibit on the High Line in mid-September. So we can ask New York's queer community what objects would you choose and then curate specifically a New York version. And moving forward, what I would love is to have a big enough gallery to allow users to choose what they would like to see. So you could say, are you most interested in queer women's stories, or BIPOC stories, or stories from specifically one country, maybe Ghana, or the USA, or maybe around one topic, like mental health, or adoption, or family. And allowing users to have that experience would be very beautiful, and something that a physical museum couldn't do. So yeah, we have a lot of things on our roadmap. It's just we have a very small team. So it's all about kind of securing more resources and allowing us to expand on that.
[00:27:51.445] Kent Bye: Yeah, yeah, the thing about VRChat is that you can actually create private instances, so you could have that control, but this is a big enough project in the sense of, you know, whether or not you want to maintain that independence and autonomy. So there's various trade-offs there, obviously, but one thing that I would have liked to see for some of this stuff is dates for when stuff were created, because they were talking about stuff, and I was having trouble sometimes orienting when this piece of art was made and relative to the larger more of a historical timeline of like key moments of when things happen just to help orient because it's a very contemporary museum with stuff that's created now a lot of but there's some of the stuff that was back in the past that I wasn't sure exactly when so that's just like a piece of feedback for when I go to museums there's often like a date of creation date not only the creation date but also the date of whenever this was written so that it can help correlate between a larger story, because I feel like this is something that could obviously keep on expanding and then continue to have different themes and sections. But for me, I want to sort of come out of it and understand how this is a story, how there were these different turning point moments, and how the individual story was related to the larger collective story. And I think the dates at least help mediate some of those conversations between the individual and the collective.
[00:29:07.728] Antonia Forester: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, if I'm totally honest, when I started building this, I didn't expect it to take off the way it did. I thought it would be a sort of one-off project that I would just finish in a few months and, you know, I would release it publicly. And that was my original intention. And just nothing would ever come of it. And it just turned out that the need for it was so much greater than I expected. I knew I needed it, but I didn't realize how many other people needed it. And that's what I've especially discovered here, seeing people come through and and like thanking my team for having built it and saying that they felt for the first time represented in a space like this. So I think with that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to add dates that really the only reason we hadn't is we just didn't foresee this becoming something as big as it really has and expanding and growing for as long as it has, which is amazing. And I'm so grateful for it. Also, it's really interesting because we have stories in there from everyone from kind of early 20s to late 60s, and their stories are very different. You know, when people talk about Proposition 8 and the experience they had with government-sanctioned hostility almost and erasure versus someone who's 20 now, who unfortunately there is really now a resurgence in what we call kind of vintage homophobia. this idea of like, protect the children, and something we saw in the 60s that now is actually becoming in both the UK and America, there's this resurgence of it now, which is really terrifying to me as a queer woman. But I think having some context, as you said, for dates in terms of when people went through these things, that that could highlight that sort of thing, that there's been a gradual progress over time, and then unfortunately, like, hills and troughs of acceptance over time.
[00:30:32.123] Kent Bye: You know, one of the potentials of the virtual medium is that you are able to create something and create a vision and then actually manifest it and create it. And in some sense, you've already been doing that to have the vision of the museum and then have this installation to start to actually physically make it. But I'm just curious to hear some of your thoughts and reflections on the potentials of creating this in the imaginal space of virtual reality and to be able to tell these stories and then garner enough support to potentially, you know, who knows where this might go in the future, but to actually have some of these built around different locations to have an actual physical manifestation of it?
[00:31:04.778] Antonia Forester: I would love that, to be honest. So I think as of next month, I think, don't quote me on the dates, there is a project in the UK called Queer Britain, and it will be the UK's first physical LGBT museum. So I'm so happy to say that that problem that I was facing, where there will be no physical venue, it will exist, which is great. And we're speaking with them about exhibiting our museum. But one thing I'd really like to do is take advantage of the fact that a headset is much, much more portable than a physical museum. So a lot of people in more rural areas or in other countries, you know, one of the stories we have is from Ghana, for example, where homosexuality is punishable up to death. And there's actually 27 countries in which that's the case worldwide. And there are places which are more rural that have no museums whatsoever, let alone LGBT museums. And there are countries where you would never be able to enter a space like that or build a space like that. You wouldn't be safe building, you wouldn't be safe entering it. But a headset is so portable, we can give that access to people. So I'd really love to ship it out to schools, to libraries, to community centers, and allow people to access that space safely without outing themselves, just saying, this is a virtual space I'm interested in, and really democratizing that access. That's something I'd love to do as well as exhibiting in art galleries and in museums. Ideally, if we exhibit in a few sort of big prestigious galleries, that is very important itself. Something someone said to me earlier was that they were expecting it to look more, I don't know the right word, but kind of less sophisticated. And they said that often when you see things that are dedicated to the queer community or any marginalized community, it's an afterthought. It's not given proper budget. It's not given proper respect. It's not celebrated and venerated in the same way as the sort of cis, mono, heteronormative narratives are. So they were expecting something smaller or something that was more quickly put together with less resources. And for us, it was really important that it looked beautiful and it looked prestigious like a classical museum does because queer people deserve equal dignity and equal respect and to be treated the same way. So to exhibit in a physical gallery or museum, especially a huge one, would be amazing and impactful in its own right. But also to send the virtual one out to spaces that would never have a physical one is also powerful. So I hope we can use one to fund the other. That's the ideal.
[00:33:10.324] Kent Bye: Remind me again, when did you start working on this as a project?
[00:33:13.293] Antonia Forester: April last year, so about a year and a half ago.
[00:33:15.858] Kent Bye: Okay, yeah, because I'm just thinking about within the last year and a half, there's been what seems to be an increasing amount of homophobic legislation in the United States, particularly in terms of don't say gay bill in Florida, you have in Texas, potentially prosecuting adults for child abuse for any hormones that may be administered to their transgender children. So I'd love to hear any reflections on the changing cultural context of this as a topic. and what you see as how the museum can help to either provide a sanctuary or help to contextualize this as an experience in contrast to this larger political discussion that's been happening.
[00:33:55.075] Antonia Forester: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I really wish that being LGBTQ wasn't seen as anything controversial. I don't think it is controversial. It's part of your identity. It doesn't harm anybody. It's very clear to me that I'm a queer person. But unfortunately, it is a political issue because there is so much homophobia, essentially. So in my ideal world, what I'm doing would not be seen as bold at all. It would be very unnecessary. That would be ideal. I would love it if I didn't have to do this. Someone told me, you're very passionate about activism. And I said, well, I'm passionate about it in the same way as I would be passionate about putting out my house if it was on fire. I don't love that. I mean, I'm so glad I have the opportunity to do this, but it's also a crisis and I'm trying to address that crisis. And I think everyone should be doing it. You know, it's a really urgent international human rights issue against many people, particularly those who have intersectional identities, so people who are queer people of color, who are often persecuted worse, or queer women, or people who are from deprived, socioeconomically deprived communities are often the worst off. So the trans community in particular, there's such a huge resurgence of transphobic legislature and transphobic commentary. The amount of violent attacks on trans people and on queer people in general has been increasing in the last year and a half. It's really terrifying to me. So if the museum can help to combat that in a small way, that is absolutely what I want for it. A lot of studies have shown that one of the best treatments for homophobia or queerphobia in general is exposure to people and to stories. As soon as you meet one or two or a few queer people, you realize that, oh, we have a lot in common. You know, they like the same football team as me. They're just a normal person. They're not like this deviant, strange stereotype that I was taught about. They're just a kid or just an adult or, you know, they're just like me. So this project, really, if it can help to expose people who wouldn't otherwise have that exposure to queer stories, maybe because of where they are, maybe because they wouldn't otherwise be interested. I've seen a lot of people come through and I've shown the museum to a lot of people who themselves are not queer. They're not explicitly homophobic, but they just haven't had access to queer stories because they happen to not be in that community. And so seeing people who are listening to a story in the museum of a black lesbian person, And they would never have that connection just because of their social group doesn't involve that person, which is fine. It's really powerful to connect them to that story. And if that even slightly reduces the preconceptions that people would have, that's one of the goals. And then the second goal is to make people feel as if they're not alone, because even if you can't change the minds of the people around them, the queer people that see this, particularly kids who, you know, having been there myself, you don't know if what you're feeling is valid. Adults tell you certain things and you trust them. And when authority figures and politicians and world leaders and maybe your own family and people you trust tell you that this thing about you is wrong and deviant and you should be ashamed of yourself, you tend to internalize that and believe it. And I think seeing an adult who is self-assured and seeing especially a diversity of voices celebrated and centered in that way and normalizing it, is so powerful and so validating, particularly to those who are alone, who don't have one-to-one contact with the queer community. So if we can reach those people and help them to feel validated, I would be extremely happy with the outcome.
[00:37:11.330] Kent Bye: Was there a moment when you were building the museum that you were able to get it to a gestalt or a moment of completion that you were really able to kind of settle in and receive all the different stories that you've been able to aggregate in there?
[00:37:23.991] Antonia Forester: I sort of received them in drips and drabs. And I was so focused on getting to the finish line. It's been such a big undertaking that I think the first time I sort of sat back and really experienced it as a whole was the first time I exhibited, actually, which was Open City Documentary Festival in September last year in London, Chinatown. And that was incredible because it was the first time apart from our user testing, which I did with friends and family because I don't have any kind of financial resources. It was the first time that we'd gotten a lot of really diverse feedback from the public, truly from the public. And that was amazing because before I was really seeking constructive criticism about the mechanics, about the feedback. And at that point, I could sit back and ask people about the impact and how they felt. And I wasn't really expecting it to be as impactful as it was. I knew for me it was important, but I didn't know that it would be so important for so many people. And I think after that first exhibition is when I kind of realized that this is much bigger than I first intended. I knew there was a need for it, but I didn't understand how broad that might be. And particularly with this resurgence over the last year and a half of homophobic violence and legislature, I think, unfortunately, there's an increasing need, which I wish wasn't the case. I wish it became irrelevant gradually. But I think, yeah, the need is only higher now than when the project started.
[00:38:41.386] Kent Bye: Yeah, and imagine that you, after having that initial public feedback, you were continuing to go with your daily life and maybe work on the project, but getting into Tribeca, I imagine, was another marathon, getting to the finish line. And now that you're here, finished, and had a chance to show it for a number of days, what's it been like to be here and to show it to people again and get feedback from the public?
[00:39:01.797] Antonia Forester: Absolutely incredible. I have goosebumps as I'm talking about it because the first time I saw someone cry coming out of it, I didn't see that in our initial exhibition. I actually couldn't be there for the whole experience. I was only there for a few days because of just different obligations. But yeah, here I've dedicated the time to be here for the entire exhibition and people have really come up to me and spoken to me, really opened up about their own personal experiences because I think once you I have my own story in the museum as well. I talk about the challenges I faced and the abuse I went through. I think people then feel open enough and trusting enough, which is really beautiful of them, to share with me their own story. I've hugged a lot of our participants. We've ended up crying together. It's been a lot more emotional than I expected. Yeah, I've met so many new people through this and they've in turn loaned their own support and said, if I can do anything to help because they understand the need for themselves and for our community. And I really love that. That's something that being part of the queer community is this very beautiful thing, because there's so many people who I've never met who we have this shared experience. All people have a shared common humanity. We all share these ups and downs and emotions. But I think particularly if you're LGBTQ, you have this unique At some point in your life, you've come to terms with something about yourself that broadly in the world is seen as abnormal or seen as non-typical. And some people have struggled more than that than others. And I hope most people don't have to struggle. I hope most people are able to come out openly and safely. but unfortunately it's a very common queer experience that we're connected by trauma and we're sort of bonded through that. So yeah, speaking to people and talking to them about the kind of common experiences we've had and the fact that the museum can help them feel validated in that and understand that they're not alone. And as I said before, the real uncanny similarity between some of the stories of people who've come through the exhibit today versus the stories in the museum has been really surprising to me and very moving. So I'm very grateful to have the space to do this.
[00:40:57.935] Kent Bye: I'd love to hear any of your reflections on the parallels that you had mentioned earlier in terms of the spectrum or the binary oppositions that we have within the culture in terms of gender and many other aspects that are in the LGBTQ experience. I'm trying to transcend that binary and into more of a fluid spectrum and the parallels between that and the insights into mixed reality where you have the physical reality and then the virtual reality and then the blending and the blurring of a whole spectrum between dialing in different degrees of augmentation and using the virtual overlays on top of the existing context, but kind of modulating that context in different ways. So I'd love to hear what your insights are in terms of being queer identified and in the realm of being a professional of mixed reality, but also so deep into the theory and practice of the queer experience, and what insights do you think that that might be bringing into the larger XR community?
[00:41:50.183] Antonia Forester: Absolutely. I mean, I think one of the reasons that it's so important to have diverse teams is that people who have different cultural experiences have different modes of thinking about the world. So I will always approach things thinking, you know, is this a clear-cut binary? Or is this a spectrum? Or is this a series of spectrums? Or is this something that is just a semantics issue that I'm debating and it doesn't really matter after all? So, you know, I tend not to use the term metaverse that much, actually, because I think it's ambiguous, and I really favor very accessible language. So I get asked a lot about, you know, my title is Senior XR Technical Specialist, so mixed reality or other realities, whatever you want to call it. And I get asked a lot about the difference between VR, and so VR, very clear-cut, completely virtual, AR, augmented on top. But there is a space in between where the best example personally I've seen is the demo of Unity Slices where you can start in complete virtual reality and then with the slider you can move into more mixed reality and then into an augmented reality where you have only a slight digital content on top of. And if you wanted you could switch off the digital content altogether and just see reality. So it really is a spectrum in terms of being able to transition. I think the limitation at the moment is hardware, really, because with augmented reality devices at the moment we're relying mostly on either mobile devices like tablets and smartphones or on headsets which have transparent displays. And so you really can't go from a transparent display to a completely immersive visual virtual environment because you can always see the real world. You're sort of limited by the display. And then with VR, VR passthrough is still relatively limited in terms of the hardware. So a lot of these demos are on Oculus Quest passthrough, which at the moment is, you know, black and white, and there's certain hardware limitations there. So I think as the hardware opens up, it's really going to open up a lot of possibilities. The Vario headsets are a great example of this, where you get this hyper-realistic passthrough. I think the strongest hardware, I guess, promise lies in VR headsets with color passthrough, because that's really what allows you to transition seamlessly between it. AR, VR, and all the other realities. So I love the space. I think it's beautiful. I think people get maybe too hung up on the exact terminology and the exact definitions. And I think the important thing is seeing examples, which is why when I created that talk around the metaverse, I like to use either analogies or specific concrete examples of, you know, which traits are we talking about? Which features are we talking about? How do we make them? And I think when you have people from diverse backgrounds, you do approach things from different angles. You think of different solutions. I think in a space like immersive reality and immersive technology, it's extremely important to have diverse viewpoints because innovation is really the key to our success. True of any technology, but particularly emerging technologies where there aren't really any rules set in stone yet. We're still kind of discovering what's possible, both on the software and the hardware side. So I think it's even more urgent in this field to have diverse teams so that we can think broadly and we can be flexible rather than establishing norms that we maybe don't realize we're even establishing.
[00:44:38.387] Kent Bye: Yeah, totally. The best mixed reality headset I've seen is from the Lynx R1 that had like really close headset that, yeah. When you start to have that, it's really mind-bending to start to have those different layers blended in your mind, just kind of like, you know, seamlessly blending them together. But yeah, finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling might be, and what it might be able to enable?
[00:45:02.690] Antonia Forester: So, I mean, I'm really interested in virtual reality authoring because the thing that attracted me first to virtual reality is this idea that I can build my own world without any resources. I mean, it was actually pretty difficult for me to afford a headset when I first started. You know, I wasn't in tech and I wasn't very economically well situated at all, which is why I wanted to get into it. So it really took me a long time to save up to get my first headset, which was a Rift, just because it was sort of affordable enough and accessible enough that I could manage. But once I got it, it kind of dawned on me that I could create absolutely anything with nothing. I didn't need to physically build anything. I didn't need to be a sculptor with materials. I didn't even need space. I just needed one meter by one meter and I could build a whole world from my imagination. It is very much to me like magic and it still is. It's like being a conjurer. I can create from nothing. So for me, as VR authoring becomes hopefully more accessible and the headsets become lighter and cheaper and more accessible to people, I would love to see more diverse VR creators. Because I think when you approach people and ask them, what do you want to build, they address their own needs. That's where the museum came from, that's why I created a queer museum, because I really believe in nothing about us without us. I would never venture to go make an experience about a community that I'm not part of. I want to enable that community and I want to ask them to speak for themselves and give them the tools to do so, but I'm not there to speak on their behalf. So I built a queer museum and I really wanted to make sure we had diverse queer stories, not just from my demographic, but also black queer stories and queer elder stories. But I would love to introduce the VR technology and the kind of skills of authoring for it to communities that don't really have as much access to marginalized communities and different demographics and different ages and different backgrounds and different socioeconomic situations. And I think giving different communities that power will create beautiful content that is really necessary, that really solves a problem. I think you just need to give people the tools and ask them to build what it is they want to see. And that's what I'd love to see coming out of it.
[00:47:02.672] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?
[00:47:06.133] Antonia Forester: That's a great question. I'm really grateful to everyone that's been supportive of this project. I mean, it just started as an idea, and it's really only because of the amazing support of both the queer community and the XR community, through Twitter in particular. I'm connected to a really broad number of XR developers, and I say I'm self-taught, but I would actually say I'm community-taught. I would say that when I reach out to the community, the XR community in particular has been unbelievably inclusive and kind and supportive and wonderful. And even when I posted my first prototype of the museum, which looked terrible, that was really helpful because people said, oh, you know, I can help. Visually, this isn't quite there yet, but I'm really on board with the idea. And, you know, no one tore me down. No one said, this just looks terrible, which it did. It really did look terrible. But everyone said, this is really important. I understand what you're going for. If you want any advice, I'm here. And I just had this access to professionals with years of experience of volunteering their time and artists volunteering their expertise. And it was just beautiful. I just want to say thank you to everyone that's been involved with the project and anyone that will be involved in future. And if you haven't seen it yet, then go to our website. It's www.lgbtqvrmuseum.com. I know it's a lot of letters. And yeah, you can find me on social media. If you search for Antonia Forster, you'll find me on all my social media. So please do feel free to add me. I'm extremely keen to talk about this project and grow it moving forward.
[00:48:30.593] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Antonia, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. It's a really beautiful experience that's capturing a lot of really important stories and coming at the right moment in the right time to be able to both share and solve the need that you have, but also be in the larger context of having a place of refuge and to capture these stories and preserve the legacy of these stories in a way that is going to hopefully be a part of causing more change as we move forward. So thank you so much for being a part of the project and for sitting down with me today to be able to unpack it all. So thank you.
[00:49:00.247] Antonia Forester: Thank you. Thank you. It means so much.
[00:49:02.631] Kent Bye: So that was Antonia Forrester. She's a senior XR technical specialist for Unity and is the co-creator of the world's first virtual LGBTQ plus museum. I have a number of different takeaways about this interview. First of all, it's just an amazing story to hear Antonia's journey of having something that she really needs. She was looking for something for herself and then was driven by her own needs to have that representation of having something that reflected her identity but also helped connect her to other people who have shared experiences with that. So I had a really powerful experience of being able to go through and see some of these different objects, and some of them just really hit me. And you maybe have some ideas of the different stuff that would be in there, but there's also things that are surprising or things that you don't expect or things that aren't even connected to specifically the LGBTQ plus identity. There's other things that are just about mental health or just about art or about creation. And so it's trying to show the full spectrum of the human experience as well, but also to look at things that are very connected to the LGBTQ+, and very connected to gender expression or identity or oppression that have happened. You know, like I said, I'd love to hear the ways in which there's the collective story of things that have changed over time, and there's people who have been born at different times, and so understanding when people were born, and at what point, and how old they are when these are happening, when are they writing this, and so just to add that extra level of placing us in space and time, because all these stories are happening within the context of stuff that is changing. So it would have been helpful for me to know when some of those things like, you know, she's telling me about the statue that was built and then what was happening at the time, at the time that it was illegal, and then since it's become legal. And so just to show how a lot of time the artists are at the frontiers of expressing things that they're desiring or wanting, and then how eventually the culture catches up and trying to meet the needs of something that is being oppressed or hidden or put into this realm of cultural taboos rejected by society. Yeah, just really powerful to hear Antonia's own personal story of being rejected by her family and then trying to find ways of finding community through this process of connecting to other people within the LGBTQ plus community and to generate this museum and to use virtual reality, her skills as a senior XR technical specialist at Unity. And then, you know, she got into technology so that she could have a change in careers. Just the power to be able to generate and create these worlds that don't quite exist. This is a very interesting example, because there's aspects of this museum that could actually take this as an architectural blueprint, and to take these same stories and these same objects and to lay them out into a physical space, and to actually build this as a physical museum. And in a lot of ways how they didn't have the resources to do that. And then by getting into Tribeca, they needed to garner the resources in order to actually build out the physical installation there for Tribeca that they got Bertie Mills to be able to help. And so in some ways using the virtual representation of something to then gather the support to actually build some physical manifestation. And so, yeah, just to see this spectrum between the physical and the digital and fewer blockers who create a virtual version, and then garnered the support in the culture to be able to actually build some of this stuff out or If she was mentioning how there was going to actually be a museum that's in the UK that's focusing on the LGBTQ plus community and experience and then how there may be a virtual version that's like the virtual wing that is able to show other stories or other experiences that you don't have quite the room or access to be able to show within the physical context and so I Yeah, just the ways that those two will be continuing to be in dialogue and to use the virtual representations to prototype and to figure out what some of those themes may be based upon those different objects, because there's different rooms and they weren't structured in a way where they were thematic. But as you start to grow that out, then are there ways to break these up into different contextual dimensions of looking at the legal aspects or whatever ways that you start to figure out how to break down this as the different themes and then what would make sense to look at that as a shared experience and then how would you lay out and continue to expand it? Is it by geographic region? Is it by different dimensions of the human experience? Is it oppression or, you know, she mentioned explicitly there wasn't anything around violence that may trigger people. So really amazing project, very much earned the new voices award for that. So glad to see that that was awarded. And yeah, just a powerful example of how to use the VR technologies to start to, you know, this is not something that you would necessarily expect would be a dimension of storytelling, but it totally is in terms of creating the space with objects that tell the stories of these individuals. But through the collection of all those individuals, you're able to tell a much larger story. And I think it's that ability to use the spatial dynamics of the medium that allow you to roam around and look at those individual objects and stories, and then piece together the larger stories from that. Anyway, that's all that I have for today. I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast, and if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list of supporter podcasts, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you could become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.