On Being Myself

I remember the first time I talked on-air in Second Life; I was petrified about how people would react. I was still self-conscious about being a biological male with a virtual female body. And my voice is the most significant giveaway that I’m not a girl—definitely a G.I.R.L (Guy In Real Life), but not a girl. I have been broadcasting for a month or so at that point, and being able to play music I liked and share that with other helped my nerves. And my friends at the time weren’t fazed. But it was awkward nevertheless.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my voice over the years. When I was young, I was in the school choir for a time and enjoyed singing. Then in my teens, my voice broke. Or rather, it plummeted. Down to baritone level. And trying to raise it up to bass or any higher hurt if I did it for long. So I eventually stopped singing altogether.

Being extremely introverted, and with high-functioning autism, I tended not to speak much in public. Having such a low voice in my adolescence marked me out as even more of a ‘freak’ in the eyes of some of the other kids at my school. I would get sniggers when I did talk, and some openly mocked how I spoke.

I remained quiet and kept to myself during my university years. It wasn’t until I got the first full-time job that I began to talk more. In truth, I had to. But I would still get jibes from some work colleagues about my speech pattern.

One incident that sticks out in my mind was at my paternal grandmother’s cremation service. What was already an awkward situation—surrounded by extended family, many of whom I barely knew—was made worse when we were invited to sing some hymns. I cringed when I heard myself practically croak my way through the verses!

Even after I got over my reluctance to talk on-air, I still wasn’t happy. People told me that I was too quiet, that I was barely audible over the music. The only reason that I kept going was that I loved playing music, and damn it, I was going to tell people so!

It was Kittlen who pushed me to speak up more. She started giving me advice on my performance. Enunciate more! Speak up! Remember to lower the music when you talk! Others commented on what a lovely voice I had. I was nonplussed by that at first because I couldn’t imagine what there was to love about the sounds coming out of my mouth. But then I started recording the shows I was doing and was able to hear how well I was coming over. Yes, I would occasionally stumble, have an on-air brain fart or a pregnant pause, but I could listen to myself enjoying what I was doing.

So I worked on improving my voice-over setup, picked voice-bed tracks to use when I wanted to say stuff and felt my confidence grow. Off-air, I was still quiet most of the time, but I knew that when I did speak, I wasn’t going to come over as the ‘freak’ that I’d felt I was for so long.

Kittlen had expressed a need to hear my voice early on in our D/s relationship. I wasn’t precisely sure why she needed this, but I was more than happy to oblige. But it wasn’t just my voiceovers that she wanted to hear. We soon started having occasional voice calls via Discord, which expanded to include group chats, and eventually video calls as well. We would try to make one another laugh and often didn’t end up talking about anything significant, just being silly and having fun. 🙂

When Kittlen asked me to read to her, I grabbed some of my Spider Robinson books, opened them and read to her either via Discord or the music stream that I use for broadcasting my DJ sets. I also recorded myself reading stuff, literally speaking into Audacity via my mic, cleaned up the audio a bit and shared the files with her, so she could have me in her ear for dentist appointments and other times she needed comforting.

When I joined Gorean Whip Radio, I found that I started talking a lot more. As a DJ in Second Life, I had mostly let the music speak for me. But now I was on an actual radio station, which required me to play adverts, give shoutouts to the DJ who would be coming up after me, etc. Since I was known for being a blue, rainbow-speckled alien, I started using parts of the music score of the film ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ for my intro and end segments of my radio show. Hearing the theremin (an early electronic music instrument) kick in gave me a nice boost. 🙂

I also got a chance to make some adverts for the station, to plug some of their sponsors. Penalt, Kittlen’s real-life husband, did the voiceover for the Old Guard’s advert, while I did the voiceover for the advert for You Must Obey. It gives me a buzz every time I hear them played on-air. 🙂

I’ve started to evolve my show format so that I spend some time communicating with the audience about why I’m playing particular songs. I’m hoping that by sharing my enthusiasm and excitement with them, I’ll leave a more lasting impression. I’m taking inspiration from the radio DJs and presenters whose voices I heard back in the day, in particular, the late John Peel.

One area where I still get occasional butterflies is doing voice discussions in Second Life. At Kittlen’s encouragement, I’ve attended quite a few over the last few months at several D/s groups. I know that some people may be weirded out a bit by hearing a male voice coming from a female avatar, but if anyone has been, they’ve not mentioned to me. It is getting more comfortable now, however. I’m at a point where I not nearly so self-conscious. Heck, I’m a blue alien, so I already stick out! The voice is a minor detail by comparison.

And now Kittlen has explained to me that she doesn’t just like my voice, she loves it! That means a great deal to me, having such a vocal (pun intended) supporter pushing me onwards. 🙂

So I’ll keep on talking, and see what other uses I can find for my voice…

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