The world is changing around us. How many times have you heard that line? If you are one of the millions in the LGBT community you know that in some ways we’ve made tremendous progress but in other ways we remain under constant attack. I firmly believe we need to be more vigilant then ever now.
Right now LGBT people have a lot of visibility. We have a lot of positive, and not so positive, representation in media. We’re starting to gain ground in the political spectrum. But the more visible we become, the more aggressive our attackers become in trying to strip away our freedoms.
When you look at traditional media you see we’ve made strides but we’re still far from treated fairly. Most gay men are presented as a stereotype. Lesbians are presented as a male fantasy. Trans people are ridiculed. Don’t even get me started on genderfluid or pansexual people, their hardly represented at all and when they are you wouldn’t recognize it other than as caricatures.
Let’s face it, we’re still regarded as sideshow freaks to them. Sure we’ve come a long way but we’re not quite there yet. We have a long ways to go.
For this reason I feel strongly that it is absolutely imperative than LGBT people, and our allies, support other LGBT creators as much as we possibly can. Sure this does include patronizing LGBT owned businesses but that’s a topic for another day.
Here’s why it matters. In the media business views attract advertisers, sponsors and loyal followers who will purchase your merchandise if you have it. We all know the LGBT community is small, compared to the world at large. But by the numbers there’s more people who identify as LGBT than there are people in the United States of America, world wide. In fact the estimated number of LGBT people on earth is over 700 million. That’s double the size of the US. And those are conservative estimates based on out members of the community. We all know realistically the number of us still in the closet could be much higher.
It matters because as a coherent community on the fringes of society we have a strength that gives us tremendous power. In order for a traditional newspaper to make money it has to have enough readership to lure advertisers who are willing to pay it enough to cover its costs. But an LGBT publication can survive on a smaller, more concentrated fanbase because LGBT people tend to be loyal to each other. An LGBT newspaper might give its content away for free, forfeiting the money it would get from subscribers and it might even forego advertisers altogether. It makes money to survive from its readers who donate above and beyond what a typical newspaper subscriber would. Same goes for that LGBT podcast you listen to. Sure you want them to get sponsors that will pay the bills but we also expect stand up members of the community to donate to their endeavors. We do this because we want quality LGBT content to persevere. A small podcast can survive with a very dedicated fanbase who donates directly via its patreon, purchases it’s merch and donates equipment, webhosting, etc, to help cover costs. These are ways we can help keep good LGBT content being created.
I don’t currently have an active patreon campaign and I will NEVER run advertisements on this website. I will gladly accept a sponsor who wishes to help keep me going but other than that I don’t want to take money from corporations that use their money to attack us.
Another thing to consider is audience size. Many LGBT podcasts, websites, blogs, YouTubers, etc., do depend on advertising dollars. But they can’t get that money if they don’t have viewers. Think about it this way. You only have let’s say 60 minutes a day you can allocate to consuming YouTube content. Every 3-15 minute video you consume comes out of the same time budget. If you spend half your time watching videos that benefit creators, companies and organizations that hate you, you’re effectively funding your own genocide. That’s frightening. In some ways there’s not a lot we can do about it. I mean even if you consume exclusively LGBT content chances are eventually you’ll get burned out. Not because there isn’t quality content to go around but because those creators can only do so much. But you can make more room in your day to specifically support LGBT creators. Maybe you have 25 dollars a month you can afford to donate to various patreon campaigns. Consider allocating all of that exclusively to LGBT creators. Yeah you might really like listening to that nerdy podcast about retro video games or that horror podcast that looks at real ghost stories. But that smaller queer podcast you listen to when you find the time needs your support more than those others. We know LGBT people struggle in this world. Even if we’re doing okay financially speaking we face discrimination, adversity, politicization of our existence, etc., we kinda desperately need a support network.
The best way to stick together is to tell yourself okay I am going to seek out specific LGBT podcasts that might offer a similar atmosphere to this other show but I can support a member of my community. Consider seeking out queer YouTubers who cover the same topics you enjoy. If you’re into Twitch gaming look for LGBT streams you can follow instead. We can’t change the world overnight but we don’t have to. We can exist outside the norms they created and thrive in our own world. We do this not just via crowdfunding, we do it via loyalty to our LGBT peers.
If I find a locally LGBT owned bake shop I can assure you I am buying their baked goods and nobody else’s, period. I had to give up some really great podcasts to make room for more LGBT shows. I only give money to patreon campaigns of LGBT creators.
I deleted my YouTube channel and started only watching LGBT creators under my personal account. This way Google advertisers can get a better feel for how queer I really am and can feed me ads from other LGBT businesses or those that support our community. I noticed I no longer see ads for Viagra and now see more ads about HIV prevention.
That’s the other side of it. Like it or not, Google has all of your personal data. Your viewing habits shape the ads they feed you. If you want to see ads for that lesbian bake shop that makes the cutest pride cookies you won’t if Google thinks it’s more profitable to feed you generic ads for Betty Crocker instead. It’s a broken system but if we stand united we can defeat it. We can manipulate it to our own advantage. But we have to persevere.
Then there is the human cost. That Transgender makeup YouTuber you watch occasionally might be struggling with depression. If you spend more time engaging with her channel, watching and sharing her content, leaving supportive comments, donating to her Patreon or whatever she uses, buying whatever merch she sells and yes supporting whomever does sponsor her content, you might not only be making her day, you could be saving her life! Think about that.
Here is a personal story from my own life. I was literally on the brink of suicide. I wanted to end my life. I mentioned how much I was struggling on Twitter and a number of my followers reached out via DM and not only made me feel better about myself, they gave me a purpose while giving me new friends along the way.
When I hear a LGBT Youtuber recommend a new channel I go to it right away, hit subscribe and add them to the family. I can’t afford to give to every patreon but I can give them watch hours. I can rewatch a video of theirs I enjoy over and over. I can share that video to all my friends. I can write about how fantastic it was on my blog. I can even leave comments on the video saying how it improved my life even just by being entertaining. Those things help that algorithm that decides what content to recommend next which in turn tells advertisers seeking to get some of that sweet LGBT money who to target.
I could ramble on all day but listen. If you are LGBT and you’re not seeking out LGBT content you need to be right now. You can find plenty of LGBT authors who write fantastic books. There’s podcasts, radio shows, YouTube, twitch, yes even stuff like RuPaul and Queer Eye. We have to stick together. I will try my best to create quality LGBT content and I will go out of my way to share what I find with you lovely people.