From discovering her bisexuality through YouTube videos to making her own so as she can educate others, Emily Eaton has come full circle in her YouTube journey.
“YouTube went from being something I watched occasionally to becoming a big part of my life,” begins Emily Eaton as she recounts her YouTube journey. Her discovery of the platform began in 2013 when she was a closeted bisexual teenager, looking to YouTube for LGBTQ+ education. She recalls that “YouTubers like Ash Hardell and Stevie Boebi really helped me learn about my sexuality and accept it.”
Ash Hardell, a prominent US-based LGBTQ+ YouTuber, was hugely influential to Emily during this time, not only in discovering her bisexuality but also in her search for community. “Ash Hardell was, and still is a big promoter of small YouTubers,” she says. “Through that promotion, I found the beautiful community that was small YouTube.”
Emily admired the new community she found herself in as they “created content regardless of what camera they had and how many views they received, and I saw how this enabled them to make friends with incredible like-minded people.”
She believes that she plays three different roles in the YouTube community: a friend, a viewer and a creator, explaining that “it’s the people I’ve befriended and connected with through YouTube that make me love it so much and that ties into me being a champion within the community.”
Every community is reliant on communication and a shared identity, whether that is living in close proximity or a common passion and the YouTube community is no different. Emily mentions that “I support my friends’ content, as well as many other YouTubers’ videos because I value what they bring to the platform and care about what they create. Watching videos remains as much a part of my life as creating them.”
She continues: “And of course, being a creator is equally important to me as well. Being a creator has encouraged me to fully engage with this wonderful community and I’m always grateful that YouTube exists as a platform where I can express myself through the form of video, something I greatly enjoy doing. My channel has brought me so much joy and I love contributing to this community, however tiny that contribution may seem!”
A turning point for Emily’s channel, as well as her identity, was the release of her coming out video, ‘How did you know you were bisexual?’ (coming out to myself). In the video, she discusses her inner conflict regarding society’s expectations of her and her unexplainable attraction towards other girls. This journey towards the discovery of her bisexuality resonated with people far beyond her natural reach of a few hundred subscribers at the time. The video received over 4000 views, a huge response that Emily never expected.
Reading the overwhelming response and support she received from the video, Emily recounts that “my reaction was just to cry happy tears really, it was a very beautiful moment.” She admits that “it just never occurred to me that being so little on YouTube, I could impact someone like that. There are many people on YouTube that talk about their experiences regarding sexuality and I know exactly what it’s like to have someone inspire you to come out.”
Her role as friend and creator within the YouTube community has blossomed since the making that video. She reveals, “I actually receive quite a lot of messages from people who are struggling with their sexuality and I’m glad that I’m in a position where I can reply to all these people. Being able to connect with them is really lovely even though I get upset that I can’t help as much as I wish I could.”
Despite the massively positive response from the video, Emily mentions that uploading the video was a nerve-wracking experience, “it was the most vulnerable I’d ever been online. I also hadn’t come out to every single person in my life individually, so this was how some people found out that I was bisexual.”
Undeterred, she remembers how cathartic it was when filming it, as she could “[say] things out loud that I never had done before. Uploading it to YouTube was exciting because I was making the kind of content that had made me become so attached to YouTube in the first place.”
Emily’s journey in the community has been remarkable. “To go from being closeted and looking to YouTube for education, to actually making a video that would educate others about bisexuality, made me feel like I’d come full circle and it was a lovely feeling for me.”
Ultimately, Emily is proud that her channel is a place of “honestly and authenticity.” She enjoys the rawness of YouTube and sometimes that means acknowledging things that are difficult, such as in her video Bullying and Harassment Online.
When asked about the future direction of her channel, she says: “I would love to intertwine YouTube with other passion projects and I’m also hoping to collaborate with other YouTubers more this year.” She concludes that “overall, I plan to continue to make videos that I care about [and] that I enjoy making. Hopefully, my channel will remain a place where I feel free to express myself and can connect with others.”
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