There is no doubt that YouTube has had an incredible impact on social culture. YouTube has over a billion users with millions of hours of video being watched daily. The growth of YouTube has had a huge effect on the LGBT+ community. An effect I would say is positive. There have been thousands of people taking to YouTube to tell their ‘coming out’ stories, to show the different sides of LGBT+ life and even to help answer dilemmas from LGBT+ youth. The number of young people who have gravitated towards YouTube as a place where they can watch and interact with people just like them is astonishing. It cannot be denied that having members of the LGBT+ community so widely available has enabled many people to be themselves as they find comfort in knowing they are not alone. This is particularly important for BME members of the community.
For me, it was Ambers Closet. I came across her ‘Girlfriend Tag’ video and instantly subscribed. She was just like me; a lesbian woman of colour, similar build, not too feminine and not too masculine. I had never come across someone I identified with in that way and it was an important stepping-stone for me. Representation matters incredibly, especially in our community, and it warms my heart to see this representation so widely accessible. I see Amber, along with other YouTubers attend panels across America discussing LGBT+ rights and supporting our community.
There is just one (not so small) problem. If these BME LGBT+ YouTubers continue to be overlooked by brands in regards to endorsements, it will most definitely have a negative effect. Any YouTuber racking up over around 20,000 views per video can make a decent amount of money from endorsements. However, it angers me to hear of BME LGBT YouTubers being offered chump change for their endorsements meanwhile their white counterparts are being offered twice as much. This was voiced during a Live Stream in which Amber’s Closet invited Hart to join her. During their discussion they discussed how they were openly being paid less than their white counterparts. They expressed how being black and ‘less feminine’ meant they did not fit the ‘stereotypical view of beauty’ and this has resulted in them being offered less money for the same thing if not more. They discussed how they had even turned down deals as the money being offered was just down right disrespectful. Now being a minority, you know that you have to work twice as hard, but it gets tiring watching your peers constantly be denied sheer respect for their craft.
Ambers Closet has 521,024 subscribers while Hartbeat closely follows with 442,234 subscribers. With those numbers, there is absolutely no way they should not be treated accordingly business wise.
I feel as though this is something that has been getting swept under the rug for a long time now and it is time that we fight for not only respect but also value for the people who are actually doing so much for our community.
This poses the question, what are we doing to support? What can we do even more of? Are we watching the videos and subscribing? Are we entering their giveaways and engaging with their content? Are we attending their LGBT+ panels and helping to spread the word? It is easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do about a situation but in this is our community we can all help in small ways that have big impacts. The next time you see an LGBT+ YouTuber doing a giveaway for a brand, enter. Let these brands know that we are present and we are willing to support.