The LGBTQ+ panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2017, and featured creators like Kingsley, Rose Dix, and Rosie Spaughton. It took place on the main stage, and was chaired by Rowan Ellis.
Melanie Murphy, Miles McKenna, and Charlie Martin also joined the panel. After introducing themselves and giving their pronouns, the panellists were asked whether they identify as an LGBTQ+ YouTuber, or a YouTuber who happens to be LGBTQ+. Melanie and Rose agreed that they feel they are creators who happen to be LGBTQ+. Rosie added that she and Rose have recently been speaking out more about the LGBTQ+ community, as they have grown in confidence over the years.
Miles McKenna, however, sees himself as an LGBTQ+ YouTuber, referring to YouTube as a “safe space”, especially since he started making videos at just 11 years old and found it helpful to see other people’s journeys. Charlie Martin agreed with this viewpoint, adding that she began her YouTube channel when she began her transition.
When the panellists were asked about whether they feel a heightened obligation to speak out about LGBTQ+ issues, Kingsley spoke about the importance of creators using their voices so that “people can see someone like them somewhere”. Miles agreed, saying that nowadays platforms like YouTube and Twitter can be incredibly helpful for young LGBTQ+ people – for example, being able to include their pronouns in their Twitter bios. He also pointed out that YouTubers can provide a form of interactivity with viewers that actors, for instance, cannot. “That sense of connection with YouTubers is something unique,” Charlie added.
On the subject of coming out, Rose and Rosie agreed that they never had to come out on YouTube, as their relationship has been recorded on their channel from the beginning. Melanie said that she has never come out in real life, having always spoken romantically about men and woman in the same way. She also spoke of her dislike for people being assumed straight until proven otherwise, comparing it to assuming someone likes Italian food. “What if they’re allergic to it?!” she exclaimed, prompting laughs and cheers from the audience.
Kingsley said that he has also never had to come out and spoke of his understanding that coming out videos are important, but also his frustration that they are so necessary. He said that he wishes people could “freely live their truth”. Miles added that he feels that YouTube is important because it can show life after coming out. “YouTube has always been my chosen family,” he said.
The panellists were then asked whether the YouTube industry has been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Melanie recounted a time when she turned down a brand deal after the brand asked her not to speak romantically about women. Speaking about the recent controversy surrounding LGBTQ+ videos not being shown in Restricted Mode, she added, “Even if it was a mistake, how could you let that go on for so long?” Rosie expressed her hopes for incidents such as this being able to change things for the better, and Rose added that she will only work with brands who are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
Giving advice to younger LGBTQ+ creators, Miles said, “Do your thing as you as you can do”, criticising misconceptions that cameras, lighting, and complicated editing are needed for a good video. Charlie emphasised that they should not expect perfection from their first video, adding, “Everyone starts somewhere”. Rosie mentioned the importance of respecting your audience, while Rose said, “Don’t say what you think people want to hear”, emphasising the importance of authenticity.
Rowan asked what the panellists think should be spoken about more on LGBTQ+ panels, and generally within the LGBTQ+ community. Rose focused on Sex Education, particularly in schools. Rosie added that this Sex Education “could change someone’s whole life”. Melanie mentioned the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in the media, focusing on Game of Thrones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in particular. She added that she hopes that companies like Disney will have frequent LGBTQ+ representation.
The panellists were also asked which LGBTQ+ creators they would recommend, with Melanie mentioning Stevie Boebi, Ash Hardell, and Riyadh Khalaf. Rose added Shannnon Beveridge, and Rosie spoke about Cammie Scott. Kingsley mentioned Tyler Oakley and his series Chosen Family, while Charlie suggested My Genderation which was started by Fox Fisher, and Rowan finished by adding Riley J. Dennis and AmeliaAce.
The panel finished with the YouTubers’ hopes for the future, with the panellists agreeing that they would love coming out to become unnecessary. Rosie spoke of how some workplaces are now embracing gender-neutral terms, and her hopes for that becoming commonplace. Charlie said that “education is the key”, mentioning how she used to fear speaking out about LGBTQ+ issues in case she got things wrong. Kingsley finished by expressing his hopes for people eventually being able to be themselves and live freely, without fear of being judged.
Speaking to TenEighty after the panel, Kingsley said: “I think the panel went really well – it was great to hear different perspectives from creators that I’m not as familiar with. I think that the audience loved it and I feel like I learned a lot. I think we all just have similar goals.”
Rosie said, “I think it’s the best and most positive panel I’ve been on so far”, with Rose adding, “What I love about these panels is that they end on such a positive note. I think it’s great because we get really into deep discussions and we always end on something inspirational.” Speaking about the popularity of the panel, Rosie said that it being on the main stage encourages more people to come. Rose added: “It goes to show that everyone wants to get involved, everyone wants to have the discussion and it’s important.”
Photos by George Yonge.
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