Earlier this summer, I entered a competition in the Sims Official Magazine to win a trip to Sims Camp. A few weeks later, I got a mysterious email regarding the competition asking how old I was, where I lived, and if I had a valid US passport. What could this mean, I thought to myself. I couldn't sleep. I felt like someone after a first date. Did they like me? Will they write me back? I wonder if I should figure out where they live and wait outside their door? I digress. Anyway, they didn't write me back, they called me! I had won the competition and a trip to Sims Camp at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany!
The competition required that I write an essay about what the Sims has meant to me. It was a heartfelt essay, but I was taken aback because I wrote on such a divisive issue (at least here in the United States). Here is what I wrote:
"Growing up gay in the deep South, I never envisioned I could marry the man I truly loved. I joined the Navy around the same time that the Sims was released. I remember creating my own fantasy world where I could fall in love with another man and create a home together. I came to appreciate that my identity did not have to be confined to a game, and I began to acknowledge and strive for my true desires and dreams. Years later, after coming out of the closet, I was discharged from the Navy, but I was emboldened to create a new life where I could live openly and be honest about who I am. I am proud to say that I am now creating a home with my partner for life—still creating fantasy worlds in the Sims but also taking steps to make those fantasies a reality."
I was limited to 150 words, so I couldn't elaborate on the year-long legal battle I went through when I came out to the Navy and was ultimately discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy". If you're interested in knowing more, here is my coming out letter to the Navy.
I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. And the icing on the cake was that I was going to meet friends who had taught, inspired, and encouraged me so, so much over the past few years. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I still wasn't sure it was all real until this package arrived in the mail filled with goodies including a luggage tag, plumbob headband, maps of Cologne, and my itinerary.
I certainly didn't feel deserving of the trip. I've built a few things and shared them with the community here. I have a humble YouTube channel. And I work as director of interiors for a magazine called SF Magazine where I try to showcase many of the creations by other Simmers in the community, all of whom would have been more deserving of the trip than me.
But I was going. It was really happening. And I wanted to make the most of this opportunity of a lifetime. I want you to experience it, too, through my eyes. The excitement. The joy. The laughs. The lifelong friendships. From this point onward, I will tell my story largely through pictures--a photo diary, if you will. Feel free to ask me any questions, either here or on my Facebook page. I will definitely try to answer them as I can within the restrictions we have regarding information that is yet to be released.
Other Sims Camp participants:
|Blacky's Sims Zoo|
|The Curtis Paradis Show|
|Sims True Life|
|The Sims Times|
|The Real Sims Webseries|
|The Sims Resource|