Back in the day I only used Youtube to watch anime and the occasional music video (and by music video I mean mostly t.A.T.u’s stuff but we can talk about them later), but at some point I got a tumblr and one gif changed my world. I remember which one it was too~
I just thought that it was like? Really cute? And then somewhere in the list of notes was a link to the video it came from [x]. This started a low-key obsession, and I say ‘low key’ only because it wasn’t, like, creepy. At this point in my life I wasn’t in the best place mentally/emotionally. To put it simply, I was struggling. With living, with where the future was going to take me, with my sexuality. There were very few things then that made me happy.
I was late enough to Mark’s channel that there was at least a years worth of videos, so I could watch them daily. He and his boyfriend, Ethan, start off each and every one with: “Good morning, good morning! Today’s gonna be a great day and do you know why?! Because everyday is a great day.” (They actually make merch of it now and honestly I need it so bad.) There was something about hearing that every day, about watching Mark’s unending enthusiasm, that really did a lot for my morale. Eventually even I began to think ‘everyday is a great day’.
Mark’s Coming Out Story was the first one I ever watched, and then I was all over Youtube, going through as many as I could. I think a lot of us tend to do that though, right? To figure out how other people did it, how their loved one’s reacted. Asking questions like ‘is it worth it?’ and ‘will I be okay?’. A lot of them actually blur together now, I can’t tell you many individual stories, except for maybe Troye Sivan’s (we’ll talk about him later too), and Ethan Hethcote’s. (Yes, he’s Mark’s boyfriend. Yes, these two mean a lot to me okay).
While Mark was the one I flocked to for a mood boost, it was Ethan that I immediately related to. In his video he talks about how he figured out he was gay young, but that it scared him, so he told himself he was straight. (“Hid myself deeper under the clothes in my closet.”) If I remember correctly, he grew up in a small town, around farms and conservative people where no one was Out. I instantly saw myself in his story. Ethan was lucky enough to have an accepting family, although his father wasn’t quite on board in the beginning. But, he came around, and that meant a lot to me. To know that it was possible for someone to change their minds.
I could talk about these guys forever, but I think I’ll stop here. I’ll leave you with some links~
And then, of course, there’s Tyler Oakley.
I feel like there’s probably a better gif to satisfy my needs but I made my decision so now I must stick with it. Also I miss his lilac hair? Honestly what a cool color?
Anyone who follows me on Social Media knows I loooove Tyler Oakley. I just think he’s honestly a good person, and I love that he uses his platform to talk about activism, especially with LGBT Youth and suicide rates and just the community in general. I love that he talks about things that are important to him and that he supports numerous charities. He’s just one of my favorite people.
Tyler has like 10 years worth of videos so lord knows I haven’t watched them all, but I am trying. Mostly I just dig into his life as a source of entertainment, I wish I remembered the first video of his that I watched, but unfortunately I don’t. I’m pretty sure it was a collab with someone else though, and I found him so funny that I fell into his channel. So what is it about Tyler that really resonates with me?
His mantra to be his most authentic self, and for us to do the same. (“The time to be your most authentic self is now.”)
Without getting too personal, I feel like authenticity is something that I’ve always struggled with. There were contributing factors to this issue while I was growing up. Things that made me feel like I had to keep even the tiniest detail about myself hidden and protected. (I had a really good childhood, it was just a complicated situation). And then of course there were years worth of sitting in a closet. While I wouldn’t say that I was a liar, I wasn’t a truther either. I molded myself and my personality to the situations around me. At some point I lost my self of sense. I couldn’t even tell you who I was, because I was whoever I needed to be at any given time. It was a mess, honestly.
So something about Tyler drew me in. Something about how he’s unapologetically himself, how he’s made a career out of what he loves to do, how he’s happy. At some point, he became my role model, and he’s helped me strive to always be true, not only to myself, but to other’s too. It’s a message I want to live through.
If you haven’t ever watched a Tyler Oakley video, I encourage you to. This year for Pride Month he did a series called ‘Chosen Family’ and I think it’s as good as any place to start.
The thing about Youtubers that I fell in love with is the same as Ellen – they’re real, and these guys even moreso, because all they’re doing is filming their everyday lives and sharing it with the rest of us. They’re non Hollywoodized accounts of what it’s like to be gay. Representation matters, and lgbt youtubers are providing that representation in real life in real time. They’re also part of the reason why I write uplifting stories. Besides the fact that I got tired of how lgbt people are generally portrayed – I get a lot of joy out of watching youtubers, they make my day better. They make me feel better about who I am, and show that any little thing can make a difference. I hope to be one of those good things for someone.
So while I watch many youtubers, these are the two that have inspired me the most.
All the best,