I read an article on the Gay Times website recently which was asking where the high profile, successful UK LGBT YouTubers are, claiming that “There is a dark shadow hanging over the British YouTube community”.
It went on to say that there are YouTubers on the top ten British list – although where to find this list is not referenced – who identify as LGBT but are not honest with their subscribership. The article, written by Craig Dillon, who is an opening gay YouTuber himself, ended with the question “By implying they’re straight and keeping up the illusion, are the YouTubers so many people look up to refusing to be role models for young British LGBT teens looking for guidance?”
I commented at the time saying I did not like the feel of the article as it felt like it was saying people who are LGBT and high profile YouTubers have an obligation to come out. I went on to state that I felt people should only come out when they are happy and they are ready to do so.
I also questioned the statement about the YouTubers implying they are straight, postulating that maybe they simply don’t reference sexuality at all as it has nothing to do with their ‘brand’ and is irrelevant to their content!
This made me think about my own content on YouTube as a guy who identifies as gay.
I have been making YouTube videos for almost 2 and a half years. On my original channel, I post random videos but have specialized more recently in unboxing videos where I open and react to monthly subscription boxes full of geeky and nerdy things. On this channel, the only real hint to my sexuality I suppose would be the videos where I read musical theatre songs as dramatic monologues because as we all know, all gay guys love musical theatre!
At the beginning of this year, after being inspired by a range of YouTubers, both LGBT and non-LGBT who I subscribe, I decided to launch a second channel focussing on vlog type videos where I react to events in the news or just random ideas I have. Out of the 50 videos I have put out so far this year only 15 are directly LGBT related or refer to LGBT issues.
So does that mean I am shirking some sort of responsibility as a gay YouTuber?
This led me onto another train of thought which was what my own YouTube subscription list is like. I found that my subscription list is very LGBT orientated. I suppose because I identify as gay, it makes sense that I want to watch and listen to people I identify with and relate to, but it got me thinking more.
I know people will watch and subscribe to those YouTubers / channels to which they can relate. But there are many YouTubers whose focus is nothing to do with their sexuality or gender. Of course, it may be hinted at, referred to, or in some cases simply be apparent. For example, if someone is classed as a ‘foodtuber’ whose primary brand on YouTube is cooking, but who also happens to be LGBT if you are interested in watching cooking videos, then why not subscribe? But does this mean they have some sort of obligation to bring the subject of their sexuality into their videos?
Just like I would suggest that heterosexual people are restricting the enjoyment they are getting from YouTube by ignoring, or not being aware of, all of the LGBT creators I may be restricting my enjoyment by watching primarily LGBT creators.
Going back to my personal viewing habits, I watch primarily LGBT vloggers. I suppose it is because it gives me reinforcement that being LGBT is absolutely fine and to coin a phrase, ‘things get better.
Creators such as TrentAndLuke, V-Squared, Calum McSwiggan, RolyUnGashaa, TheLowDown are the UK YouTubers who dominate my viewing history. They are joined by international creators such as Shep689, TheNotAdam, TheDiaryofJake, AConMann and Michael Rizzi. All of whom sit somewhere under the LGBT umbrella.
Overall I currently subscribe to 90 channels, of which 58 could be classed as LGBT channels as they either are about LGBT issues or are fronted by LGBT people.
I wonder if, and I am sure there are, non-LGBT vloggers who I could watch and would enjoy watching but I don’t seek them out. I think I need to do this to see if I am restricting my own potential YouTube enjoyment!
However, now I think about it, I was subscribed to Connor Franta a long time before he came out, the same can be said for Joey Graceffa and Shane Dawson. Now I am sure there are people who would say that it was obvious they were gay or bisexual, which is why I probably subscribed in the first place, but I do not accept this point. I, like most people, assume someone is heterosexual unless I am given firm evidence to the contrary, not that this is necessarily the right thing, but it is the case.
But returning to my original point, do YouTubers who are LGBT have a responsibility to come out and make content that focuses on primarily LGBT topics?
In short, I think not.
We live in a world where increasingly, acceptance of LGBT people is prevalent, where the younger generation accepts LGBT people without a second thought and where it really doesn’t matter what a person’s sexuality is, if they make enjoyable and entertaining content on YouTube, they will get watched.
Is there a dark shadow hanging over the British YouTube community?
Not from where I am standing.
Are there YouTubers who are high profile and have not come out of the closet?
Statistically, there probably are.
Does it matter?
I think not!
Should we all, LGBT and non-LGBT people, be more open to viewing a wider range of YouTube channels?
I am a thinker, watcher, smiler, laugher, occasional YouTube content creator, writer & part-time teacher! My YouTube channel can be found at:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaPfRtDp5552wTwriVZ0_9g (Jay’s Jabberings).