In honor of Pride Month, which the LGBTQ community and allies celebrate every June, YouTube has launched the "Proud To Be" initiative to celebrate the video-sharing site's LGBTQ community. The video series finds its primary home on the YouTube Spotlight channel, though many highlighted content creators are also uploading their own "Proud To Be" videos to their individual channels throughout the month. In fact, any user can participate in the "Proud To Be" series by uploading a video to their own channel, even if they're completely new to YouTube. There's also a Twitter hashtag for "Proud To Be," where users are expressing excitement for the video series and sharing their own "Proud To Be" experiences. All in all, it's a fantastic way to celebrate Pride Month.
YouTube's line-up of participants is pretty awesome, and does a nice job of representing various aspects of the LGBTQ community. Some of my personal favorites, including Gigi Gorgeous, Tyler Oakley, Kat Blaque, and Tre Melvin are present, along with many others I haven't checked out before — which, in my opinion, just makes it even better. I know I'm always looking for new and diverse voices to follow, so this series is a neat way to explore new media. Furthermore, it's gratifying to know that the "Proud To Be" series highlights agender, genderqueer, polysexual, omnisexual, and pansexual identities, providing representation for the huge range and true diversity of experiences in the queer community.
As a queer person myself, I'm pretty invested in queer culture, news, art, and advocacy, so I'm personally incredibly excited about this series. That said, I also think a huge positive of the "Proud To Be" initiative is that it reaches users who aren't necessarily queer-identified, or even allies to the LGBTQ community. It's important to remember that Pride Month is not just about rainbows and sparkle glitter, but about celebrating who we are as a community and drawing attention both to what we've accomplished and how much further we have to go. It's a party, yes — but it's also activism.
The "Proud To Be" series also comes at an important time: We're still reeling from the horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 queer lives were lost and an additional 50 LGBTQ people were injured. In fact, YouTube mentions the Orlando tragedy specifically in the caption of their video establishing the series, explaining, "After the horrific acts in Orlando, it’s important to love and accept people of all identities and to stand together in strength and solidarity now more than ever. We hope the video and the creators' voices can be a source of pride and inspiration for communities around the world.”
YouTube will also be hosting various Pride events at their YouTube Spaces in New York City and Toronto, including open mic nights and Happy Hour specials, geared towards LGBTQ users with more than 1,000 subscribers.
You can check out the full video below, and be sure to keep your eye out for more '"Proud To Be" videos and tweets appearing throughout Pride Month. Happy Pride, everybody!