In June, virtual platform The Sandbox will be the location of the first metaverse-native LGBTQ pride parade. The event is the brainchild of People of Crypto (POC) Lab, a new innovation hub focused on building diversity in Web3 spaces.
Users of all shapes, sizes and identities already spend their lives inside metaverse platforms — but the companies building these platforms and the virtual experiences inside them are not nearly as diverse, according to People of Crypto co-founder Simone Berry.
Berry and her co-founder Akbar Hamid — a Black woman and a gay Muslim man, respectively — first met about five years ago. Their bond was further solidified in 2021 at an NFT event in New York City, where they were among the few non-white attendees. “I was walking around, going, ‘I see no one,’” Berry said. “He was there with a client, and I was like, ‘I need to talk to you; I just need to see anyone.’ We met at a Starbucks, and over a cheese plate, we bonded and decided that we were going to make change.”
The event, which kicks off in mid-June, is intended both to draw crypto-curious members of the LGBTQIA+ community into the metaverse and establish The Sandbox as a welcoming location for users of all identities. The centerpiece of the Pride space is a massive, rainbow-striped statue in the shape of a raised fist, which Hamid said will eventually be turned into a cross-platform NFT. POC Lab is also selling NFT avatars showcasing diverse perspectives, including avatars in hijabs and wheelchairs. The company also hopes to partner with LGBTQ advocacy organizations such as GLAAD and equity groups focused on the Black community such as 15 Percent Pledge for the event. “Of course, there’s the give-back component,” Hamid said. “We’re going to be writing charities into all of our smart contracts as well.”
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