This month it is LGBT history month. I think it is vital for all parts of society to appreciate our past and the challenges that we have overcome. It is also important we consider ways that can further improve the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in the future. There has been massive progress such as Same Sex Marriage finally being legalised in the UK. However there is much more work to be done on a domestic and global scale.
Today I will be talking about role models for the young LGBTQ+ community. YouTube is growing at a phenomenal rate and right now it is difficult to predict where it is going to end up. Currently more and more people are watching YouTube videos like they are the new television. One of the main attractions to YouTubers is that they are ‘normal’ people talking to a camera. It is a platform that allows for everyone to actively interact with each other and post their own content, giving individuals a voice.
It is no secret that mainstream television programs and other media forms rarely feature the LGBTQ+ community. Although we have seen an increase in diverse characters and storylines such as Russell T Davies’ latest, ‘ Cucumber’, on Channel 4 and BBC One’s ‘Last Tango in Halifax’, it is sometimes difficult for young people to truly identify with people in the media.
LGBTQ+ YouTubers allow for young people to log in on their smart phone or laptop and watch the storytellers of their generation. For closeted individuals especially, it means that they can privately access useful information and support from the YouTube community. There are also many LGBTQ+ YouTubers who vlog their everyday lives, which in many ways can give other young people hope that “it gets better”. You see that it is possible to live happy, successful and fulfilled lives regardless of your sexual orientation or identity- an immensely powerful message.
Videos are as much for straight/cisgender allies of the LGBTQ+ community to learn more about various identities and sexualities. I have stressed before the importance of education to overcome discrimination and boundaries between groups in society. YouTube is an excellent tool for this. YouTube is a platform for individuals with real experiences to talk about the issues that affect them. This therefore allows viewers of all ages to access this information and educate themselves.
On the other hand, YouTube does not come without negativity. If you scroll down to the comments of any video (regardless of content) you will face ‘trolls’. You will read horrendously offensive remarks and irrational opinions from often anonymous accounts. A lot of YouTubers handle this well and even post videos about the hatred that can come with putting your own content out there.
YouTube is rapidly taking over and there is rising concern that the content is becoming oversaturated. But I would strongly argue that it is an extremely important platform that mainstream media should learn from. YouTube evidences that there is demand for more relatable role models for every kind of individual.