The Coming Out on YouTube panel took place on Sunday at Summer in the City 2015. It featured creators including Jimmy Hill, Mark Ludford and Savannah Brown. It was chaired by Alex Brinnand.
The Coming Out on YouTube panel took place in the screening room. It saw clips of the panellists’ coming out videos played to the audience, and a discussion around the issues raised in them. It featured Mark Ludford, Savannah Brown, Lewis Parker and Jimmy Hill with Alex Brinnand as chair.
The first video shown was Lewis’s, who explained it was a step in his journey of coming out to various people that came after having the conversation with his family. “As soon as I told my family I went, right, now I’m gonna be out fully [to the world],” he said.
After Mark’s video was shown, he was asked whether coming out videos are still important to make in 2015. Mark thought yes, explaining how seeing other people going through the same thing as you are can really help you with your own situation. They explained how watching coming out videos of YouTubers they admired growing up helped affirmed their feelings. “The first person you have to come out to is yourself,” he said. “It can take a long time, and it was those kind of videos that helped me with that.”
Jimmy’s video came next, and he explained how he never thought he would make a coming out video on YouTube because he felt he had nothing new to bring to the conversation. It was Shane Dawson‘s video that inspired him and he’s now very glad he did. “Since I’ve done it I’ve realised there was something missing, I am happier now,” he said.
Finally came Savannah’s video. She said she filmed her video to inspire others and help normalise her sexuality. It was discussed whether creators should feel obligated to come out if they are LGB, something she disagreed with in general. “Your safety comes first and your feelings come first,” she said. “But if you are in a place where you can say ‘I’m comfortable enough and ready to share this with people’, then I think for the sake of inspiring others and saying ‘Yeah it’s okay’ [you should].”
The discussion briefly turned to whether some YouTubers are using their sexuality and coming out videos for attention rather than for positive reasons. “It’s a tricky one,” said Jimmy. “You can’t judge, you don’t know people’s motives. I think the more coming out videos there are the better, I don’t think it can ever be negative because it normalises it.”
“The pros outweigh the cons,” added Savannah, before the conversation turned to ‘queer-baiting’ by non-LGB creators in videos. She disagreed with the view that ‘it’s also helping normalise it’ made it acceptable. “It’s so exploitative,” she said. “People are really hurt by things like that.”
Alex then asked what does it mean to be a good straight ally, and what can they do to support LGB people. Mark explained the important of allies not making the conversation about themselves. “You should never use your voice over those who have experienced these things themselves,” said Mark. “You have to stop and listen to what they’re saying, and know your shit basically.” “It’s important to educate yourself,” added Savannah.
Lewis was asked whether he thought coming out videos would always be necessary in the future. He hoped not, again mentioning the importance of normalising LGB identities, but thought they would be around for the foreseeable future. He talked about how growing up in a small town with little diversity, coming out videos were one of the main ways to come across people like himself.
The panel ended with questions from the audience, including one on what is the ideal way for a person to react if a friend comes out to them. Jimmy didn’t know if there was necessarily an ideal way, as coming out is something LGB people shouldn’t really have to do, but just to try and make it as comfortable as possible.
Savannah explained how that phrases like “Oh we already knew” are well-intentioned, but they can end up having a negative impact. She stressed the importance of centering your response around offering your love and support.
Mark agreed. “When you’re coming out to someone you’re really vulnerable to their reaction,” they said, before saying friends should make sure the dynamic between them doesn’t change as well as offering support.
Photos: Michael Dean
Want more from Summer in the City 2015?
Check out our Summer in the City tag, where you’ll find all of our coverage. Also, why not take a look back at our Photo Recaps from Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
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