Being part of a minority is hard. Being part of a minority where other people may still perceive it as weird, wrong and in some cases a choice, makes it even harder. But that is not to say that they do not go it alone.
Gay role models form an important part of a young gay person’s life because they act as someone they can relate to. They have been through all the difficulties that they might be going through such as coming out to family and friends or being bullied at school. Gay role models are therefore an incredibly powerful thing for young gay people who may feel isolated because of their sexuality. Not only can they help youths in how to come out, but they also show that it is okay to be gay and that you can be yourself.
One of the most important milestones in a gay person’s life is telling the people closest to them who they are and this can be a scary process. Will my friends continue to like me? How will my parents react? Will they send me to one of those ‘pray the gay away’ camps in Texas? I know for me, all these questions arose at least once. Strangely enough, YouTubers can be great role models in this difficult time.
Coming out stories on YouTube can obviously vary. For the most part they are stories of acceptance with YouTubers such as Troye Sivan or Tyler Oakley talking about how their parents said that they still loved them after they told them. However, there are not so positive stories. For example, Matthew Lush talks about how his mum punched him, threw a mirror at him and sent all his Christmas presents back to the shop just because he told her that he was gay. While most young gay people are not expecting their parents to act like that, anticipating reactions can still cause a great deal of stress. But these YouTubers help people realise that it will all work out. Even Matthew Lush concedes that his relationship with his mum is really strong nowadays and that a couple of weeks later, she gave him all his Christmas presents again symbolising that she had finally come to terms with it. So, even the hardest coming out stories can have a happy ending and this can inspire gay youths to also come out.
These YouTubers are also role models in the sense that they show it’s okay to be gay. Mark E Miller walks around town holding hands with and kissing his boyfriend. For a young gay person discovering themselves, this can be a bold statement. These YouTubers are showing that they do not care what other people think. To therefore be shown that you should be yourself and not care about what other people think can change the way a gay person thinks about life. For me, in school, I grew tired of having to hide that aspect of myself and I know that this was in part due to the YouTubers that I had watched. They were happier that they were being themselves and they no longer had to feel awkward when asked by family and friends whether or not they had a girlfriend.
Gay role models then are very important to gay youth because above all, they can show them that they aren’t alone and that they too can be happy.