June is LGBT Pride Month. It's celebrated every year to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in NYC that spurred the gay rights movement in America. Many young people choose to come out on social media and in online communities in June. But often, with filmed coming out announcements — and more specifically, coming out videos on YouTube — we usually see young, white, gay men coming out to largely female audiences. Today, Ingrid Nilsen is the first popular beauty guru to use her platform to come out as a lesbian in a video for her fans:
Coming out videos are not a new phenomenon. Over the years, Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, Troye Sivan, and other YouTubers with millions of loyal fans have declared their sexual orientation and used their channels to spark conversations about gender and sexuality. Just last month, Joey Graceffa made a music video in lieu of a confession-style video, and started trending worldwide on Twitter.
What feels different and groundbreaking here, though, is that the online beauty community has long-been dominated by a hyper-feminine, aspirational, makeup-clothing-cute boyfriend-diet vibe that's followed in the footsteps of traditional media targeting young, white, well-off, heterosexual, cisgender women. There are many LGBTQ youth who have never seen themselves reflected in the the beauty and fashion space.
Diversity is a wonderful thing.
After six years on YouTube, Nilsen explained why she decided to make a video about her journey to self-acceptance exclaiming, "This is me!… And the fact that I'm gay is a part of me." Through tears, Nilsen goes on to describe how she's always known she was gay, but she started to hide that part of herself when she realized her peers and community weren't very accepting of homosexuality and she "was seeking love and approval" at that time in her life. After taking a few months to find herself, she knew this was the right decision.
How will being an openly gay woman affect her beauty channel and success? The major beauty guru channels on YouTube have followed a fairly narrow script — there are lots of women, gay men, and some trans gurus, but very few, if any, lesbians. Her decision to publicly come out will definitely help many kids who looked up to her become more accepting of themselves and others. It will be interesting to see the long-term impact it has on YouTube — and specifically the beauty community therein.
Images via Ingrid Nilsen's YouTube.
Akilah Hughes is a comedian, YouTuber, and staff writer and producer for Fusion's culture section. You can almost always find her waxing poetic about memes and using too many emojis. 🍕