When Tyler Oakley spoke to NMR earlier this month, the “professional fangirl” said it was important for him to build the LGBT community on YouTube up because it has helped many like him share their experiences about coming up and being who they are.
Oakley, who enjoys talking about boy bands like One Direction and about pop culture, has not only been a prominent voice for the LGBT community on YouTube, but he’s also been working to raise awareness of issues with LGBT youth. He has actively supported the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention and helping bullied LGBT youth. Earlier this year, he raised $28,000 for the non-profit as part of an appeal to his fans on his 24th birthday.
The YouTuber, who recently reached the one million subscriber mark, talked to NMR about how YouTube has been a great outlet for the LGBT community and his feelings on the future of the LGBT YouTube scene.
How has YouTube been supportive in helping you and other LGBT YouTubers? How has YouTube been an ideal platform to express yourself?
YouTube has provided an outlet for us to connect with LGBT youth and the community in ways that we’ve never had before. For YouTubers to be able to make a video that can connect and give hope to youth in the middle of a homophobic or close-minded area can be the difference between life and death.
When did you come out to your family/friends? What has changed over the years in the attitudes towards LGBT people since you came out of the closet?
I came out of the closet when I was 14; 10 years ago. For me, I had a very supporting network of people who not only accepted who I was, but embraced it. I did have people who were intolerant of who I was, but the people who supported me far outnumbered who didn’t.
How do you handle/address the backlash from homophobes?
I find solace in the fact that I’m on the right side of history – and that although the journey may take long, it always goes toward justice. Plus, I’d rather have homophobes focus their energy on someone who is comfortable with who they are (me), than people who are still trying to come to terms with the things that make them different and special.