Douglas Armstrong, better known on YouTube as DougA, came out recently. However you might not know it from his most recent video. Coyly titled “I’ve Been Thinking,” the video doesn’t advertise itself as the kind of high drama identity disclosure that we’ve become accustomed to. Doug folds his coming out process into a larger discussion about the way we react emotionally online and the stress this can create in our personal lives. While he admits that he struggled for years to come out to his parents, he believes that coming out on YouTube shouldn’t have to be a fraught or dramatic experience.
Armstrong’s choice to downplay his coming out announcement flies in the face of current YouTube wisdom. In recent months prominent creators like Connor Franta and Troye Sivan have released coming out announcements that have made waves, and generated headlines. It’s also a highly rewarding experience for professional creators as recent coming out videos have generated a tidal wave of views. Both Franta and Sivan’s announcements currently stand as the most watched videos on their already highly trafficked channels, garnering millions of views and comments. Creators who come out with a splash also benefit from media attention that can expose them to a brand new audience desperately seeking role models.
The perception that a personal disclosure might have cynical motives has further complicated the process for some. Coming out to a parent online recently landed YouTube duo The Rhodes Bros a visit to The Ellen Show and a check for $10,000. It also prompted complaints that the Rhodes siblings had exploited a deeply private moment for personal gain. YouTuber Joe Sugg also became the subject of criticism after releasing the video “My Big Annoucement,” with the video thumbnail images of Sugg kissing fellow YouTuber Caspar Lee leading many fans to cry gay baiting.
The coming out process has been much dramatized in film and television and most recently on YouTube. For fans who are used to a high personal window into the lives of their favorite creator coming out can be a sort of last frontier, the final curtain pulled aside as the world, and the YouTube community, becomes more comfortable with LGBT creators.
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