In this digital age, our information is constantly on display and we’re constantly sharing ourselves on public platforms. This is even more true for online creators like Dan Howell, with millions and millions of eyes watching his every move.
After not uploading to his YouTube channel for a year, Dan Howell uploaded a 45 minute video titled Basically, I’m Gay.
For long-time fans, Dan’s sexuality has been a grey area – not that it’s anyone’s business until he says it is. That is exactly what this video addressed, in a very different way to what we’ve come to ‘expect’ of a ‘coming out’ video.
In the past, YouTube personalities and online creators have uploaded tearful confessions of their ‘coming out’. After watching these videos as a queer person, I almost felt like it was a dirty secret that they were forced to reveal about themselves.
While there is absolutely no right way to ‘come out’, there is a way to speak to a large audience about sensitive topics and make a positive impact, if that’s your intent.
In Dan’s video, he spoke about the connotations of the word ‘gay’ having a lasting affect on his mental health and ability to identify himself from an early age. Growing up through the 00s, the word ‘gay’ evolved from the dictionary definitions of ‘happy’ and separately, ‘attracted to the same sex’ and moved into a slur, akin to the word ‘bad’ or ‘shit’.
The video allowed Dan to speak candidly about his long time partner that he has been living with and creating content with for a decade. He revealed that he hadn’t met an openly gay person until he was 18 or seen any representation that he could identify with.
One of the many reasons that this video has struck a chord with his audience and hopefully the wider community, is that Dan spoke about labels in a very real way, shedding light on the privilege that is often ignored.
If you are someone who feels that you don’t want to label yourself, it is so important that you acknowledge your privilege, and acknowledge that it’s not your place to encourage a ‘label-less society’ because some of us need ‘labels’ to find our tribe.
People can find it comforting to look at a word and identify with its meaning and characteristics, we need to encourage those people to find their community and take steps to feeling genuinely accepted.
Moving forward, I think ‘coming out’ videos will be less about the confession of a secret and more educational, and that can only be a good thing. With the ever-increasing list of words and understanding of the sexuality spectrum, gathering as much understanding as we can will lead to a more open and accepting world.
‘Coming out’ looks different for everyone, and please remember that you’re valid even if you’re not waving a rainbow flag and marching at Pride.
To Dan, this video will save lives.
Watch Dan’s full video here: