He’s young America’s GBF. Still, YouTuber Tyler Oakley calls it “mind-blowing” to get messages telling him: “You were the first gay person that I ever saw.”
“To have that kind of potential of influence is kind of like an awakening,” he tells The Advocate in their 40 Under 40 issue, “because this experience that they’re having watching me could be really detrimental or really good for how they view the gay community or what the gay community can do.”
Oakley, who has used his channel to raise hundreds of thousands for The Trevor Project, looks to the likes of Ellen DeGeneres as a model. “She embodies what I want my experience to be and my influence to be, where it’s a positive one, it’s a happy one, it’s not something about the bad parts of life or the downsides of a lot of things. She’s using her influence for good, and everyone knows who she is, what she stands for, and that she is a lesbian.”
Oakley says people “want better and more accurate representations for themselves,” and that YouTube has the potential to help. He makes a conscious effort to lend the microphone of his own channel to the likes of Kingsley (a young gay black man whose amassed nearly 3 million subscribers) and Miles Jai (“an amazing YouTuber who is really challenging a lot of gender stereotypes”).
Watch out for Oakley’s next moves. He dreams about finding ways to raise up the next generation of YouTube talents, acting as a sort of producer instead of host.
“If there’s one thing that I could have everyone know, it’s that I’m just trying to be my best person, and that in no way do I think that I am ‘the voice’ of anything, that I’m just trying to be a voice and show people that they can also be a voice.”
Love that. Go change the world, gurl!
(Fabulous fan art cover by Instagrammer Kristina Webb, a teenager from New Zealand with “a dream to inspire people”)