There’s Something I Want You To Know: Coming Out On The Internet

Ingrid Nilsen’s words ricochet against the silence as she sobs to the camera, finally sharing a truth she feels the need to share to become her true, authentic self. Just fifteen minutes of entirely unmoderated footage (with the only exceptions being for when Nilsen cut out hysterical sobbing on her part), she spills everything. Or at least, everything she feels the need to. By the end, she looks as if a weight has been lifted as she reveals to the world that she is gay.

Nilsen’s video is raw and (mostly) unfiltered from start to end. It is a video bottled with emotion that spills in a way that Nilsen can’t quite control, yet she doesn’t try to hide it. Much like Shane Dawson, who later the same year came out as bisexual, they bare all as they come out and reveal something so deeply personal and unbelievably controversial as they declare that they are a little bit different. Dawson particularly decides to strip away his usual bravado and chooses to simply record this video on his laptop, away from lights and cameras and the more professional look his subscribers are used to. Instead, he records just him and us, caring more about his words than his production quality. His words are the quality, and that is the true power of both Dawson’s and Nilsen’s videos.

“I’m giving myself my best chance. And so should you.” – Ingrid Nilsen

Ever since the Internet first came to be, people have been able to control their stories online. Whether it be through something as simple as a Facebook comment or the photos we share on sites such as Instagram, we – as an audience – have been given full control of our public image and how exactly we should be seen by the world – something that had been largely unheard of until now. Voices that were never before heard are now being given a chance to rise up against the crowd, showing off the world in a completely new way. And now more than ever, marginalised groups such as the LGBTQ+ community are being heard louder than ever – and quite frankly, we shouldn’t stop.

YouTuber Taylor Behnke (otherwise known as ItsRadishTime), talks about coming out videos on the Internet in her own recounting of her bisexual journey: “I never did the queer YouTuber right of passage of uploading an emotional coming out video, instead I just kinda quietly upended my life for five years and never talked about it,” recounting how she was just out without really trying or making a fuss – something she was entirely in control of. Behnke’s words aren’t meant with malice, but more with respect; a coming out video was not necessary to her coming out as bisexual, yet she appreciates for others that is. Instead, she chooses to recount her story to discovering her bisexuality in her own poetic way, sharing a story that is no one’s but her own. Her words are personal and well-thought, poetic and crafted with love – something that is extremely on brand for her and her channel. Though, most importantly – she is entirely in control of how she tells her story. Although it is not a story entirely filled with happiness, it is filled with hope.

Though unlike those I have mentioned, not everyone on the internet chooses to come out using words. Famed for his success throughout Buzzfeed and later the independent company (The Try Guys), Eugene Lee Yang tells his own story – much like Benhke – in his individual way. Yang’s story is not told through words, but rather through dance – a medium that Yang has become well-known for throughout his time as an internet celebrity. Yang’s video ends in the same way that it begins – with a family, though in entirely different contexts. We open with a Korean family (Yang being Korean himself), with him attempting to live authentically as he attempts to copy the female members of his family – before being scolded for not fitting in with the masculine and religious ideals set out for him.

Yet, we close with a new family. This family stands with Yang as the credits roll; a family that chooses to stand with him as who he has come to be and the trials he has faced as a gay man. This video is entirely crafted by Yang, and the soul poured into this piece is beyond breath-taking. It is empowering, yet heart-breaking as Yang stares towards the camera while those around him fight with one another, broken at the unnecessary trials he has faced to get where he is.

Similarly bold (yet on-brand) with her coming out is none other than Canadian YouTuber, Elle Mills. Much like she does in every video, Mills introduces herself to the camera and begins her video in the same upbeat and comedic way we have become accustomed to on her channel – yet she turns her own personal flair into a clear statement as she reveals her crush to her friends, before breaking down on camera as the reality of her coming out sets in. We see her come out to her mother on camera, who tells Mills that she accepts her no matter what – something that she very clearly needed to hear. Then, much like Yang, Mills starts her video with a new introduction as, with a rainbow flag covering the front of her house, she tells the world that she is bisexual.

Coming out is as individual as we are, and thanks to the Internet queer creators are able to reclaim this unfortunately treacherous act for themselves in whatever way they see fit. Whether it be through bouts of screaming like Miles McKenna, through song like Joey Graceffa or Dodie Clarke (who admittedly does not come out in this video but reclaims her bisexuality – and those of closeted bisexuals – through song), or through dance like Eugene Lee Yang; there is no limit to what coming out can be in the modern age. What is important about these videos is this: that the creators are able to come out in their own way on their own terms, and that the audience are able to see that despite negative influences and fears that every single one of these people depict in some form in their videos, it will be okay and that you should not be ashamed of who you are. This is perfectly worded by Howell in his own coming out video:

 “But I had to tell my story so that people would understand me, and these things; why coming out is still a big deal because queer people are often invisible and suffering until they have to do it.” – Daniel Howell

Coming out is a big deal, and as it should be. People should be proud of who they are and should not have to cower against the immense suffering that often occurs with being LGBTQ+. And thanks to the Internet, people are able to deal with this immense feat of strength through whichever medium they feel most comfortable with: whether it be singing, dancing, talking, or covering your house with a massive pride flag that could arguably be seen from space. Whatever the means, each method is just as powerful and respected as the other and is hope for millions of others out there (myself included) that being LGBTQ+ is completely okay and that everything, one day, will be okay. In the words of TV icon, Captain Raymond Holt:

“Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place. So thank you.”

No, really. As a bisexual woman; thank you.