YouTube, Raymond Braun Celebrate Pride Month With LGBT-Focused #ProudtoLove Campaign [INTERVIEW]


Everybody has their own opportunity to affect the world. Most people ultimately choose not to — for better or worse, they elect to live lives of conditioned acceptance. Others create shifts that are tiny in scope, imperceptible really, but when combined with other microscopic nudges, can amount to great change. This is reality of the LGBT push for equality: a series of small gestures that have built up with resounding force to alter the very machinations of the world. They — we — have achieved a paradigm shift, a radical new reality that will change the way all humanity operates. And while the movement is far from complete, there is a great thrust of momentum behind it now, pushing it on like a tidal surge.

Accompanying monumental judgments by the Supreme Court of the United States that struck down large parts of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop. 8, the struggle for equality has achieved a beautiful, almost incomprehensible legitimacy for members of the LGBT community, their families, friends and supporters. Yes, there is much work still for us to do, but there is also much celebrating to be done as well — for we, the world, have truly earned it today — and every day hereafter.

And it is with that engaging spirit that YouTube has enacted the #ProudtoLove campaign. Ushered into existence by Raymond Braun, a moderator of entertainment and the LGBT experience for Google, #ProudtoLove is a simple social media message of tolerance to be shared around the world — a sort of everyday love letter to humans everywhere, be they straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or otherwise. Whether you fought for or against DOMA and Prop. 8 does not matter — that was the old way of thinking — today is a fresh start.

As Raymond explains on the YouTube blog page, YouTube and Google have been longstanding advocates of equality in all its forms, and so, in conjunction with parties celebrating that mentality going off around the world, YouTube will be spotlighting some of its best and brightest LGBT creators — folks who’ve had the audacity to be exactly who they are. And along with them, NMR will be celebrating every step of the way. We will be bringing you conversations with the creators and figureheads of the social media scene who have contributed their own efforts to the push for tolerance. And who better than to kick off that celebration than with the person who made this YouTube campaign a reality?

Do you self-identify as “gay”?

Raymond Braun: I do. And you can also identify me as a “Gaygler” if you want because that’s what we call ourselves internally — which I think is pretty funny.

And that’s a gaygler?

G-a-y-g-l-e-r; it’s self-identified LGBT Google employees and their allies and friends.

I like that — that’s very cute. How did you come up with the #ProudtoLove campaign in the first place?

I’ve always been really inspired by all the ways the LGBT community expresses itself on YouTube, and I saw that we have such a diverse range of LGBT creators that are making really interesting content on the platform. I think that one of the things that is so amazing about YouTube is that we don’t have any gatekeepers. You can broadcast your story, you can share your voice, you can share your perspective exactly how you want to convey it, and so I think that that really resonates with the LGBT community because it’s just a great forum for people to share their stories for fun content that resonates with them and that they can connect with and build a community. From a personal level, I just knew how meaningful it would have been for me. Unfortunately when I was a preteen, YouTube didn’t exist, but I lived in Ohio in a community that was pretty conservative and where I couldn’t really feel much connection to the LGBT community at all, and I didn’t know where to go to find information or go see what my life could be like. And so I just thought about how powerful it could have been if I had a place like YouTube where I could log on and see all these stories, see all these people, all these creators, interact with them, just get this really rich mosaic of LGBT experiences globally that could help me imagine how my life could get better and what amazing vibrant community I was going to be kind of entering when I got a little older.

So this is something then that has been in the works for a while, this just didn’t spring up today?

No, so this is something that I just [felt] as a passion area ever since I started at YouTube; this is something that I’ve wanted to do, and so we started thinking about what are ways that we can really champion and celebrate the amazing creativity that is going on within the LGBT community on YouTube. So that’s something we’ve been thinking about for a while. Since June is “Pride Month” it seemed natural to tie it in with Pride and the celebrations that are going on — particularly this weekend where we have major pride celebrations across the globe everywhere from New York to Paris to San Francisco to Dublin, so this has definitely been a project that has been in the works, and it’s great that there has been such positive and monumental decisions made today and that we can kind of tie into the public sentiment and support what is going on for the community right now.

Now when does the celebration officially begin and when does it conclude?

Well I’d say it’s already begun as soon as the Supreme Court announced this morning. We changed our social media mastheads on Google Plus and Facebook to — I don’t know if you’ve seen them yet, if not, I’d check it out — and basically we released this beautiful image of our rainbow that is composed of thumbnails from some of our top LGBT and allied YouTube creators with the hashtag #ProudtoLove. We’ve also asked the YouTube community to upload videos to YouTube talking about who, what or why they’re proud to love, and we’ve already seen an overwhelming response. People have already uploaded videos — they’re trending; people are re-tweeting and sharing, and some of our top creators are asking their followers to do it and so that’s all happening today and then starting tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. Pacific we’re going to be releasing a video [above] which I am incredibly excited about and very proud of which is a two-minute video that … really, it has two goals. The first is to showcase some of the amazing ways that the LGBT community expresses itself on YouTube, and the second is to deliver our kind of campaign’s message and YouTube’s message on this, which is proud to love — an idea that everyone is proud to love something — what is it that you’re proud to love?

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