Digital Media: Pride & Platforms | Full Billboard & THR Pride Summit Panel


– So my name’s Alexis Fish. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I am the Vice President of Pride at Valence Media and the
Editor of Billboard Pride. – [Audience] Woo! (clapping) – Oh, thanks. Today, oh do we have a panel for you. Digital Media Pride In Platforms. I have been to so many
conferences and summits I can’t tell you and I don’t
wanna hear the moderator, I wanna hear the people. So, I’m just gonna jump right in and I’m gonna tell you one thing. No what, you know what? No it won’t, okay. So we know the rise of
queer media (laughs) has directly contributed to the presence of queer stories in traditional media. These people (laughs) woo! They collectively reach millions and millions of people everyday. And they entertain, but they also show us candid
portrayals of queer lives. They give their viewers
a personal connection to LGBTQ stories, providing
the kind of visibility as I discussed in my speech earlier, we know they save lives. I’m so incredibly inspired. (audience clapping)
So incredibly inspired, by what you guys do every single day, by what you people do every single day. Did you hear that? I used gendered language and I caught myself and that’s okay. (laughing) They put themselves out into the world, as their authentic selves. Both for praise and criticism. Their talents, strength and activism and your passion, leaves me in awe, truly. So here we go. Let’s go down the line, 30 seconds. – Oh, oh, oh.
– 30 whole seconds, my gosh!
(laughing) – Introduce yourself.
– Starting with Joey. – And tell me the first queer content or content maker you watched online, go! – Hi, I’m Joey Graceffa. I would say, the first
was probably Tyler Oakley. Oh sorry. I stole your answer.
– (laughs) It’s all right. There really wasn’t that many people. I started back in 2007. So there wasn’t really a
queer like group of people, making videos. So Tyler was definitely
just one of the first that I was just was like,
“I identify with him. “Maybe I don’t realize it now.” But I realized later
that I identify with him. – I’m Gigi Gorgeous. – [Audience] Woo! My first queer icon was Tyler Oakley. I also watched this guy, I don’t know if there’s any
makeup lovers in the room, but his name was Petra
Lewd and he was, okay no? I was obsessed. He worked at Mac and he did drag and I was obsessed with him
and he was just out and proud and it kind of made me get–
– Yes, yes! – Right?
– Okay, I remember. – He was light skin, shaved head.
– Yeah. – Super talented. Yeah, that made me kind of get creative and then ultimately,
just start doing makeup and share my story. – [Hannah] Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. – Hi my name’s Hayley Pappas. I think mine might have been pre-digital. Probably some influencers
in reality TV a little bit. – [Alexis] Love it. – Actually mentioning MTV, I think maybe some MTV
shows back in the day. – Yeah.
– Yeah, like (mumbles). – [Hannah] Tila Tequila, remember? – [Group] Yes! – Tila Tequila, exactly (laughs). – I remember Tila Tequila. – Yeah! – No but also the San Francisco
cast of the Real World? – Yeah, I was thinking Real World. – I mean in their conversation
around HIV Aids, whew. – Yeah, yeah pretty influential. – Are we gonna age ourselves? – I know sorry.
– Talking about Real World? – 43 and proud.
– No, I love it. I’m Eugene Lee Yang. If I had to, yeah I really wasn’t watching a lot of digital. I actually would say Hannah
Hart was the first person, I watched who was out.
(cheering) – So proud of you. (laughing) – But yeah, I also love,
I watched a lot of friends who I went to school with, start creating content who were out. Brandon Alvarez did some
really amazing sketch work. – [Hannah] Yeah! – Yeah, so he and I went to USC together and I just, that video of how
gays like greet each other, is still I think iconic. So yeah, yeah. – I guess, hi my name is Hannah Hart. I think that for me, probably
the first queer influencers in the digital, I would say, yeah people like Tyler
Oakley, Michael Buckley, there wasn’t honestly, like yeah, any cisgender female people
I could identify with. But, let’s date ourselves,
during the Tila Tequila show, I remember Danny. Remember, that was like her love interest? – Oh!
– Oh yeah. – I was like, hoo, and at the time, – The firefighter.
I was like a closeted person. I was like, “What is this?” “Why do I love it so much?” I mean I was rooting for them. – Yeah. – Spoiler alert didn’t work out. (laughing) – Hi I’m Anna Akana and
definitely on the internet, you were the first that I saw. I remember being like,
“She’s really cute.” – Oh my God!
(laughing) – Like, “I’m straight right now “because I have so much
internalized homophobia.” But I was like, “She’s very cute.” (laughing)
– Wow, that’s great to know. – [Eugene] She’s engaged,
Anna, she’s engaged. – She’s engaged, it’s fine. – I am, it’s great. (laughing) – Hey I’m Miles McKenna. Definitely like Daddy Tyler Oakley, is like one of my first. Definitely Hannah Hart. I’m 23, so like I started
making YouTube videos when I was 11. So, I was watching and creating content, but none of my friends
were creating content. It was definitely like a secret. No one was really a YouTuber back in 2007, until like you know (mumbles) whatever. But yeah, I’m transgender. So it’s really a blog posts for me, like on Tumblr, people sharing
their trans experience. It wasn’t a lot of video content. It was all pictures and progression and learning about hormones and it was really written posts. – So, you’ve been doing
this for quite awhile. How has it changed? I mean there’s, I know
we’ve gone from the blog, from MTV, to the blog has
fared to YouTube and Snap and like how has it
changed over the years? – Oh my gosh. Yeah, there’s been a lot of evolution. I think right now, it’s
become so mainstream, that it’s just a whole
new audience is here. Where I feel like when YouTube started, it was a place for the outcasts and kind of like the uncool kids to find a place where they could connect with people like them and now
I feel like the popular kids kind of found the secret hideout and are kind of taking over in a way. – Yeah, I feel like it’s so saturated now. I feel when I made my coming out video. You know who is another person? Troye Sivan. – Oh yeah!
– Yeah. – He made a coming out
video and I was gagged. I was like, “Oh my God. “He’s just in his room, telling it, “like spilling everything
that he has in him. “All of his truth.” That really inspired me. So I feel like when I made
my first coming out video, I was like, not amongst many
other people, that made them. So I feel like now, you can go on and find thousands and thousands and thousands of gay coming out videos, or transgender coming out videos and all the education is there. So I feel like it being so saturated, is so nice for people
going through a hard time, because it’s like, “I’m questioning these things. “Like I don’t really feel like myself. “Or I feel different from my friends.” It’s like literally type it into YouTube and you will find someone
to answer your questions. – Yeah.
– I remember too, oh sorry. – Oh no you can go ahead. – Thank you. In the beginning, it was
so many Asian creators too. I remember like Happy
Slip Community Channel, Ryan Higa, Michelle Phan,
like all the biggest creators were Asian at one point. I remember being like, “Oh my God, “this is the first time
I’ve seen someone on screen “who really looks like me
and that I identify with “and all these different verticals.” So it was a very big, safe Asian space. – Yeah, I was gonna say
that I think the difference between back then like vintage YouTube, to now is, a lot of the jokes, like when I was in middle school, were saying that gay as a negative term, right like, “Oh that’s gay” is negative. But now you go to any meet and greet kids are saying like, “Oh I’m gay. “Like move, I’m gay.” It’s such a positive thing
and a mainstream joke to say that you’re queer or that you’re gay amongst these kids. Well it’s like, “Whoa, if I was 13, “I could not be like swing that tee, “like that’s not it.” – I think it’s really, it’s so wonderful that we get to live
and work in this space. We get to live and work in
cities that are also safe spaces. I think that though YouTube
has become more popularized and mainstream and exactly
as you said Joey like, “Oh no, now the formula’s out there, “so all the cool kids are doing it.” Even though that’s happened, I think that we still need to encourage other independent queer creators to find their places online and find their safe spaces online, because there’s a whole lot of America and a whole lot of internet out there that is absolutely not safe, you know?
– Yeah. – My fear is, that at this point, because it’s become this
popularity hierarchy, or this fame hierarchy, that people won’t feel as
compelled to go out there and make their shorts
and make their films, or tell their stories, because they’re worried it’ll look like they’re trying to get famous, you know? – Yeah.
– That’s a fear I have, now that being YouTube
is such an established means of income, is that it’s
losing itself as an art form. – Yeah.
– You know, or an outlet. – Definitely. – Well it’s interesting because Hayley, as an executive at RYOT
Films and I think Verizon is an owner of RYOT Films,
one of our sponsors today. We talked about this, you’re
mining the online universe for content creators. – Yeah, I think we
primarily make documentaries in both feature length, obviously, which mostly don’t live online, right? Those are usually seen in
theaters, or maybe at home. But often short documentaries and I think a lot of what we’ve seen is that yes, obviously,
we wanna tell the stories of creators online, who are percolating and help amplify those voices, but then also you know, we go
to countless film festivals and there are these
beautiful, as you mentioned, short films that often
sort of live and die in these film festivals, you
know, unless there is a way to distribute them online and
unless there is a platform, whether it’s Huff Post or others, that can help amplify those voices. Otherwise, they can get buried. So yeah, I can’t get agree you with enough that I think that there
are artful and beautiful and nuanced stories, to be told and we have a privilege to
be able to help share them. – Eugene do you, oh I’m sorry, Hayley? – All good. (laughing)
– Any vintage YouTube comments you wanna? – Oh I’m good, I’m fine.
(laughing) Saw everything. – We love you, Miles. Eugene, is there something you think we the industry, could be doing to help LGBTQ content creators access online in a better way and find visibility? Or do you think we’ve saturated? What’s going on in that space? – That’s a complex thing
to sort of suss out. I think that, I kind of, I
was at the creator summit for the first time this year, which is where they bring
a lot of quote, unquote top tier YouTubers together at some hotel and it’s just a big old cluster fuck. And,
(laughing) No, it was wonderful to
meet a lot of the creators, that was really awesome. But it was interesting,
because a lot of us were having similar discussions of where is YouTuber popularity at? Is it allowing for new, fresh voices to actually perforate through or has YouTube actually
become as we’ve seen, sort of parallel to
traditional industries, as opposed to as it was before, where we were seeing this
sort of under traditional. Now, you know, everyone is actually working on the same space because everything’s coming together through things like streaming and everyone is seeing each other as like a
sort of a competitive talent. So it is interesting, because
I think YouTube in itself, is also treating its
creators as star vehicles. I mean the turning page, which was really doesn’t mean anything, is the primary example of that. You see the same people
trend every single week. So I think that there is,
I almost described it as, digital content is like it’s own industry and is going through the growing pains that I think even the film
industry went through. I think that vintage
YouTube was that great like talk ease era and
then all the young people are coming up and doing
weird experimental things. (laughing) Then, you know recently
with I mean even the rise of places like BuzzFeed
that I used to work at, that was the sort of vehicle in which they were trying to figure out, “How do we sell this? “How do we market this? “How do we package things?” Now I think we’re in
this weird golden age, with McCarthyism and
there’s a lot of things that you have the you go
to here from Marilyn Monroe and it’s all very
specifically constructed, to get people to watch it, but I’m hoping that
we’re gonna swing towards this weird ’70s, being
like weird indio tours to come out of nowhere,
just to bust the balls open. That’s why I try to do things
like constantly we’re asking, “How do we innovate and do
different types of things online, “to make it feel like
there’s ownership there?” So one thing on our end, I think, is people with visibility, is to create stuff that
challenges the notion, that we are stuck in a
place of just being popular. Actually, Shane Dawson’s
documentaries are a good example. He didn’t do anything like that before. I think that’s a wonderful
parallel to show, that people are growing outside of that and I think the industry at large, should recognize that and also support this idea, that anyone can access those things, because they should in
the digital platform. – I think one of the things, first of all, I love you and I loved
everything you just said. (laughing) One of the things that
I don’t see anymore, that really kind of elevated, I guess, my career, was that I
remember Huffington Post, would post like, I’d only made
maybe six, seven videos ever and every single time I posted it, some food writer got it and would be like, “Hey here’s a new episode
of My Drunk Kitchen, “just so you know.” That is really what generated traffic and I don’t see as much positive media coverage
of independent creators, as I do see the TMZ style
media coverage of people that are just doing who
knows, you know what I mean? That’s something I think
that we’re missing right now. Is that the journalism
aspect is only interested, in talking to the top tier. As to before, when it was like, “Oh look, these are interesting things “people are doing online.” Like, I still get quoted in articles that are like, “Top 10 Creators
Doing Unique Things Online”. I’m like, “Since when? “Me? I’ve been doing this eight years. “There’s nothing I do that’s unique.” You know what I mean? Like there’s no discovery
through journalism anymore. It’s all just reflections from the top. – I would agree and I
do think that we have Huff Post is one of our sister brands and I think that we have a responsibility to be identifying and curating
and endorsing in that way. Yeah.
– Yeah, straight up. If that Huff Post food
writer, whoever you are, wherever you are, hadn’t just been like, “Oh here’s a new episode of
that funny new YouTube show.” I mean, and at the time,
it’s like 100,000 views. But those 100,000 views
made my career, you know? – Yeah. Gigi, Eugene mentioned
sort of crossing over, crossing over in traditional media using the platform of digital. Is that something that you see
happening a lot for people? Is that something you, any of you, is that something you wanna
do, or do you wanna use this as a jumping off point
and how have you done it? – I mean for me, I’ve been
doing YouTube a very long time, similar to Joey and Hannah, I mean as everyone here. – To be fair, you guys were 2007. I was 2011. – Oh! – Yeah.
– So we’re really O-G. – Yeah! (laughing) – Dusty. – I feel, oh!
– Oh! (laughing) – Dusty!
(laughing) – I meant to drop, put my mic down.
– No, vintage! – Vintage, vintage. (laughing) – We’re like fine wine. We get better with time. – Yeah! – Yeah!
(clapping) – I feel like for like I get asked a lot, because we have been doing it so long. It’s like, “Oh well, are
you always gonna do YouTube, “or like say, you’re in a movie someday. “Are you just gonna quit YouTube?” My answer is always like, “No, because that’s what
gave me the confidence.” When I did my documentary through YouTube, a lot of people were
asking me the same thing. I’m like, “Absolutely not.” Like you know, it’s even
more reason to connect with more people, because
it’s more saturated and it’s just that much
more meaningful I feel, for me and the viewers. But also, whenever I
see like, I mean Lily, who is a fellow Canadian girl. Just got a late night talk show, which is maybe the most
mainstream thing ever. I’m so happy, because
honestly, I feel that YouTubers a lot of the time, have
more of a deeper connection with their fans than even
like a Leonardo DiCaprio, because it’s literally
them turning on the camera, whether they have a team or not, and literally just talking to the camera. It’s more of that genuine connection. Like when people meet
their favorite YouTubers, they literally break down and cry, because it’s like they
really helped them through a really hard time and it’s seeing people transition from the digital
space into the mainstream space. I just love it so much. Like Troye Sivan, for example. He just is killing it, so hard, in the music industry and it’s like, he did stop YouTube, but it’s because he’s killing it so hard in the mainstream. He’s still doing his thing, you know?
– Yeah, on the cover of the Billboard Pride issue last year. – Oh yeah.
– Yeah. – Love me some Troye Sivan. (laughing)
– Yeah. – Yeah, Anna? – Oh one thing I do find frustrating. I mean I’m in the film making vertical, so it is a little different. But, the CPMs of YouTube on
the business side of YouTube has fallen so drastically, it
really doesn’t encourage you to make really expensive,
high quality content. Each of my videos cost
about 3,000 to produce, just like a regular vlog, so I can pay my crew and feed them well and I make only $300 on
the ad sense revenue side. So I rely very heavily
on outside brand deals, integrated either at the
end or throughout the video, in order to like pay my crew
a couple hundred bucks a day. To your point of being an executive, like I love making short films. I love finding short films online. But, right now there
isn’t a sustainable model, unless you rely on an outside advertiser and YouTube itself, the
algorithm plays to those channels that thrive on just talking
shit, or stirring up drama, which there is a place for that, I understand, I love reality TV. But, I feel like it really discourages true art from coming out. – It’s the independent
and I wonder if people are gonna start talking about this, but looking to traditional
Hollywood’s path and looking to the mainstream blockbuster versus the independent
film industry, right? There are people that save up their money, to make a movie that won’t even get them the $300 back, right? I think that because the celebrity aspect, has come so front and center, it’s like people are forgetting that it’s also a distribution model, for your art, not just
your talent, you know? I mean the talent side
it’s obviously huge, but I think people are really kind of latched on to that. Like with the Gay and
Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo. That is one of my favorite
scripted series, zz, zz, zz, ever and it’s not like it
made this massive splash, but it was really good for Ryan’s career. But, what I’m trying to say is that, people have done this before. Entertainment has evolved before and I think that we need to study more the history of film and television and find the similarities
more than the differences. Someone’s up. – Yeah, agreed and I think
that it’s a fallacy now to continue this sort of us versus them, traditional versus digital. That has kind of, it’s sort of perforated most of the conversations
for the past I’d say, like six to 10 years. – Yeah.
– Because now we’ve realized and Will Smith is a YouTuber. The idea is now, it’s
just another platform for one to express the
most appropriate way to deliver a message. Whether it be with
online content, or film, or they’re a brand deal, I think everyone across the industry is seeing that they’re accessing the same portals. The thing I think is that I’ve learned, that one must retain, is
that digital allows you those classic key words
that we throw out a lot. But then it really comes back to it, which is accessibility and authenticity. Those are things that
people really believe and that’s the whole idea of
like, you can’t just walk up to Leonardo DiCaprio and hug him. But that’s what, it
gives you is this feeling of truth and I mean,
I decided to create a, coming out video this year, which in style and in terms of production
was in every way, quote, unquote traditional,
utilizing my own film making background and I
was actually very reticent, because in my own mind,
I had this prejudice of this idea of I can’t put this online, because I felt, one, gross about it, or I had to like figure out
what thumbnail did the best. It just felt strange to
put that on that project. But then I realized like, “What is the point of this project?” Which is, there’s no definition
of what a YouTuber really is and we have to express ourself in our most true, authentic ways and that was just my own way of doing that and I think that people
could see and smell that. Looking back now, that
was the best decision I could’ve made for
that particular message I was trying to send. So I think that’s just sort of where I think the conversation
needs to go industry wide is, “Oh you’re on YouTube, you can’t do this.” It’s more like, “Oh you’re on YouTube, “should you do this particular idea here?” I think that’s where I
believe most of the deals are gonna be starting to
happen, in the future. – Yeah. Hannah, you are all exceedingly
successful influencers. But I’m curious, I won’t
call it traditional media, but what entertainment
experiences that you’ve had, have been the most interesting for you? – Well kind of tying to what
Eugene was just speaking to, in 2016 I had my first television show that I got to produce and
star in and blah, blah, blah. It was on Food Network and we
had a great six episode run. It was amazing and then
we didn’t do it again. It was funny, because
the reaction to that, was as soon as I was on Food Network, everyone was like, “Well
that’s it, you did it! “You’re done!” And I was like, “Huh? “No I’m pretty sure this
is one project, anyway. “I’m still working on my podcast, “my book, my this, my that.” Because that’s what it means
to live and work in Hollywood, is that you always kind of have to have, there’s never a moment
where you have achieved a singular goal, because as
I’m sure everyone also shares, my goal is to have this
be my career for my life. I think that the people
who have stories to tell and voices to share and art
and support behind their words, those are the people I think that are gonna last in this industry. I hope that we kind of go that direction, as opposed to the hyperbolic
headline click bait direction. I don’t want YouTube to
just become daily motion, is basically what I’m
trying to say, you know? I want it to stay an
incubation space for artists. But, is it still the right space for that? I don’t know. Maybe that’s what everyone’s
kind of feeling, you know? Because it’s being
influenced by advertisers dipping in and out, in
reaction to the content. How long can that really last? So, I guess my experiences
in traditional entertainment, to answer your question,
have only led me to reflect that you can’t put your
eggs in one basket, ever. That basket certainly can’t
belong to somebody else. You know? (clapping) What? – Yeah, I didn’t have to. (laughing) – Oh, Miles. – Hey. – Talk to me about the
homophobia and transphobia. We gotta go there. What’s going on? – About all of it? – All of it.
– All of it. – Well we were having an
interesting conversation backstage about the industry with the acting world, because I’ll get job opportunities, or auditions opportunities
for a queer character, like a trans character and it’s awesome and I read the pitch line
and it’s like awesome and I’m like, I go through the script and it’s not that awesome. It’s like, wait, it’s a misrepresentation. Not as accurate, or sometimes the language that’s used is harmful. But it’s just the people
that are creating it, either don’t know, or are
trying to create something to, in my mind, put something
out there positive for the queer youth and their audience. They’re like, “Oh people will love this.” But it’s, if there’s not queer
people behind the camera, as well as in front of the camera, it’s not going to be as honest as impactful as it needs to be. So, it’s very interesting, because we all have internalized homophobia and transphobia
that we see from the media, or from what we don’t see in the media. It’s not always someone
saying something to you, but it’s what you’re saying to yourself, or you’re holding yourself
back in a certain way, because you’re not seeing
yourself represented accurately or at all, so. – Mm-hmm (affirmative). – That’s why I think
YouTube is so important, because it is raw, it is honest. It’s these people coming out
here and giving other humans the language to put to how they feel and the confidence and the silent okay of, “Okay, you’re doing
that, you’re being you. “Maybe I can be me as well.” So I mean I grew up watching
all of these humans, religiously through my early teen years and garnering that language
and arming myself with that community and even
though it wasn’t people that I knew personally, it was people that I felt like I knew personally, because I didn’t have that in my hometown, in my small bubble of my home, my school and my place I grew up in, so. Yeah, it’s very, very important that these stories are being told. But when they’re told on YouTube, they’re it’s the one
person being the editor, being the writer and being that producer and that voice, but once
it starts translating into traditional media,
I really feel like, at least for me, it’s not just, “Oh I’m taking an acting role.” It’s like I feel a lot of, I feel like I need to really dive into what I’m signing up
for, because I feel like I owe it to these kids that I’m meeting, that are watching me, that
I’m going to choose projects that are positive and important. – That is very wise
and a good thing to do. – Thank you.
– That’s really good. I think that like, I was, yes.
(clapping) We were at this documentary
called, “Changing the Game”, that was about transgender
athletes in America and there was a quote from Alex (laughs). All right, it said, “Not
about us, without us.” – [Man] “Nothing about us, without us.” – “Nothing about us, without us.” I think that that, that was the first time I’d ever heard that. That really resonated with me, because I hope that
the generation to come, is in the writer’s rooms and that the people who are
helping fund, produce, make that everybody a part of the film making, television making,
entertainment making process, can feel more secure in
their own personal identity and they can move up in their
own entertainment ladders. I think that by staying online and by being like this gatekeeper free, in this gatekeeper free environment, who knows who you’re encouraging? You could be encouraging the
next Steven Spielberg, right? To be who they truly are. So yeah, “Nothing about is, without us.” I agree. – Yeah. I think they’re, I mean I just, back to the notion of
digital versus traditional. I think there has to be, like
we are all demanding there to be more of a fluidity
and a genuine conversation between those two formats,
because of just this. I think that like, traditional,
vintage, older formats are looking towards our generation, younger generations, newer formats and begging to understand them. They wanna understand
them and emulate them. I think that what’s funny to me is, what you wanna emulate
is just authenticity and it’s just genuine
representation, right? So then that comes down to who and how are we employing in the
making of these quote, traditional formats and
can it start to be more of a fluid dialogue among
these different formats? – I mean we have the cast of Pose later and I think that is just one
of the most beautiful examples of putting the people in the rooms, to write the stories of their lives. It seems so obvious. – And there is a demand for it. There is a real financial
demand and return. There are audiences dying
to watch these shows and consume them and advocate for them. – I think there’s a lot more coming out, like,
– There is, yes. – It’s so wild, this
transition that’s happening that the stories that I’m
watching on TV and in movies just feels so much more real and like the real stories
that I can relate to. So I’m excited, I feel like the change is happening right now. – Congratulations. – Oh, hey. – No, that’s you.
– We did it you guys, we’re done.
(laughing) – Congratulations.
– Well I also feel like, as an actor who is also an influencer, it’s incredibly interesting
when I get hired for jobs, where people don’t know
I have a digital presence and I speak up about a
problematic storyline or I’m like, “Hey this
character, this moment “is very misogynistic and
I don’t think it’s helpful “to the story and honestly, “I don’t feel like it’s
a responsible message “to communicate to my audience.” They’re always like, “What
are you talking about? “What odd, like this is the
story we’re trying to make.” You do have this weird thing like building on what you said off of, is like, “I don’t want to, “I represent something to
the people that I talk to. “I represent suicide prevention. “I represent mental health advocacy. “I cannot let those values down, “even though I am an actor,
which means I’m a cog “in somebody else’s story.” You still feel this immense responsibility about maintaining your values and whatever it is you take part of. I’ve had to bow out of projects, because they’re either incredibly racist or they’re like, “Well
just like go out of frame, “and like we’ll imply that
you gave this guy a blow job “for no reason.” It’s mind boggling, you’re like, “I can’t in good conscience
do this, or sign onto this.” So I do think the great
part about our celebrity and as traditional and what
we do becomes more blurred, is we are able to take a stand and when we do have a certain
amount of marketing power, we’re taken a little bit more seriously, than if we were just a hired gun. – Yeah. – Yeah, I think I wanna choose to believe in the optimism of art,
which is that we are going to follow the unique voices
and uplift those stories that we want to hear as a generation, that is more diverse and more open. However, I do, one thing
that always catches me, is that with any action
is a strong reaction. We see that so prevalent
in the digital space, mostly Twitter and you see that there is a going back to homophobia and transphobia, we have to remember always
that the reason we exist, is because there is a need for it. You can create a film
and you can just walk out of the press room whenever you want, but when something
happens in this country, when someone like Tucker Carlson or whatever, fucking spews
bullshit out of his mouth, we are choosing to engage openly, not only with our content,
but also with our being. I think that’s the kind of
beauty that digital provides in that I don’t think
any of us want to lose, even if we end up winning an Oscar, or having a Food Network show. Like this is something
that’s really important to, especially our generation, which is we’re not gonna
let that bullshit slide. Because kids need to hear that, because other kids are
being raised in households that are hearing the exact opposite. So, yeah, I think that’s it going to be a very eye opening, intense
next 50 years in the industry, particularly with I think
these rising voices. But I think the whole point is that, it’s still a fight, it’s
still an uphill battle and I think that everything
is there for a reason and we are here representing people who just never had that voice until someone could get on a keyboard. I think that’s unfortunately
what the youngest generation might not see, is that they
see us on this panel up here in cute clothes and they think, “Oh yeah, they’re done, they’re good. “You know Beyonce’s number one, so, “I mean you know, racism doesn’t exist.” Like these are conversations that happen, because they haven’t seen it. So we have to be out here not only representing but
educating, and that’s been a huge, huge realization
for me, particularly someone who when I first entered
online, I was like, “I don’t want them to
know anything about me. “I don’t wanna even be on Twitter. “I don’t wanna say anything,
I wanna be this distant, “mysterious void.” I realized that’s just not
the times we live in now and we need to enact
the power and the tools that we have at our disposal, which is these digital platforms. (clapping) – What scares me about that, is that as to what you
were talking about earlier, about ad sense and revenue,
not being enough to pay for it. Right now, I’m rebuilding, not rebuilding, but I’m maintaining my channel in a way that I haven’t been able to dedicate my time and attention to, because I was working on my third book, available for pre-order now,
Mydrunkkitchenholidays.com. (laughing) Thank you. But, I’m now, I’ve got some time and I’m like, “Okay, so
what do I wanna make? “What is Harto in 2019?” That I’m putting a lot
of just income into that and putting my investment into that. I haven’t made money off
the channel, in a minute. So what scares me, is that the
only way to sustain yourself as a, the only way to
sustain yourself online, is through brand participation. So, it still puts the power
in the hands of the brands. So every time you support an artist, or every time you hear the,
“Click like, subscribe”, all that stuff. The mentality you should have is, “I’ll do it, so maybe they don’t have to “be so reliant on brands “and so reliant on navigating
the advertising world. “The more I support them as an individual, “by doing this one simple gesture, “I’m giving them my vote, “I’m saying yes, I believe in this, “I like this, I wanna see more of this.” It’s hard, I mean, I’ve
got a timeline for how long I’m gonna just kind of
throw money into this and we’ll see what happens, but yeah, you really are beholden
to the deals that you get. – Yeah. I mean, what have your
brand experiences been? We actually spoke about,
I think was it Lays? – Oh phenomenally positive, I love brands. (laughing)
No, it was great. No, it was great. No, really. In that same kind of
like sense of self value and sense of having your values, one of the things that
I’ve, in my work with UTA and with my management,
we’ve always said like, “Okay is this aligned with Harto? “Is this aligned with our goals? “Is this aligned to our values?” We’ve passed on
opportunities that weren’t. But fortunately, I’ve
had a lot of great brands that I’ve worked with and
a lot of great partnerships that have enabled me to either
produce content together, where I have a little series that’s distinctly for the brand. Subaru, Barilla. Or, do something where I
was just straight up like, endorsing these Lays potato
chips Taste of America guys, in 2018.
(laughing) It sold out of their stock. They were like, “These
chips are gone now.” I was like, “Cool, can you tell “every other advertiser you know?” Because that’s really what matters, is people investing in their, if you have any left over budget, go find a creator you
wanna support, you know? They need it, real bad and they will work real
hard for it, you know? – Yeah. – Yeah it was very
interesting to see brands around world pride this year. Just see the support and yeah, it was a fascinating experience to someone who’s been to a lot of prides, just to seeing–
– But they need to be around, all year, that’s kind of the point and you know,
– and all over America, not just target marketing.
– Yeah, and I imagine, sorry, I imagine now
that as someone who is usually widely known to
be part of a comedy cast with three cisgender straight white guys, who are universally appealing. We get deals, they’re just funny dudes, they’re like, you see
them on Comedy Central you see them on my channel. Well they’re great, by
the way, they’re amazing. But those deals we lock
down, are part of like Entertainment Week, we
craft like brand deals. It’s very easy. But if it was just me, I always assume, if it was just me, a queer
person of color who’s in YouTube, already I have somewhat
advantages being cis. I’m dressed like a fucking
tennis coach right now, right? (laughing)
Like you know, I’m trying to, it was hot today, guys. (laughing) – Hey my shirt is see through man, I’m hot.
– I’m trying to learn how to do makeup, I’m trying. But you know, it would
be so much more limiting, because it’s just like,
“What am I gonna do? “Wait until every June rolls around, “so someone’s gonna pay attention to me?” They’re gonna be like,
“Oh we need a drag queen “to pump up this vodka.” Or, “We need someone who’s
in the trans community “to represent, I don’t know, like a shoe, “because that would be cool.” So it’s really unfortunately also up to the brands to realize that we also just need to have that visibility all year round, because
pride is not limited and people’s queerness is not limited to like a finite time every year. What I’m worrying now is that the more enthusiastic they get, the more gets concentrated
in that one 31 days. That I think is something that I think is what is the frustration
we have had online about this whole idea of
changing a rainbow flag back and forth and I think, I don’t know. But we have the power in that, I think. I think we have the
power to encourage them to consider that there’s
value in these voices, regardless if it’s
pride or Christmas time. Hey, queer Christmas. (cheering)
Get on it. (laughing)
(clapping) – Rainbow tree. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – That’s it. (laughing) – Oh they’re plotting something. So, I wanna talk about
how you are so visible on your channels in your
spheres of influence and I wanna talk about the safety. Do these platforms need to do more to better protect queer
and marginalized people? I won’t force anyone to begin. – Probably, yeah. Yeah, I would say yes. I mean I think to accept
that it’s a real problem and to accept that it is, targeted. It might not be targeted intentionally. Someone might have not
physically typed in, “Hate gay content” enter. Then the algorithm went off and took it, but it definitely has been
shifting and influenced by the amount of content
that’s put out online. I think that, if the solution had been, “Oh no, well we started
tagging and flagging this stuff “to fight back against hate speech.” It’s like, “Well the result is, “you’re actually
demonetizing sexual education “and health channels and people, “anybody that has any
of these words in it, “even if they’re positive.” Then it’s silence. – [Alexis] Yeah. – So I think that the first step, is admitting that there is a problem and the solution is unknown. – Yeah, it’s just like
making sure the algorithms aren’t inherently
homophobic or transphobic, because even outside of the YouTube space, like on Instagram, there’s
a big thing right now where a lot of trans masculine people, they’re pictures are being
censored and taken down. I know a lot of guys you
know post top surgery, that cannot post pictures of themselves, because it will be taken down and they will get strikes
against their Instagram. Even pictures where
they’re wearing shirts. It’s very strange, because what we’re coming
to the conclusion of, is there’s a lot of
people who are transphobic and they’re reporting pictures, because they’re like, “I
don’t like this transperson. “Who’s just out here being a transperson.” So a lot of their pictures
are being taken down. I was on Tinder, two years ago. (laughing)
I log on one day, and it says error code, 8303 and it was like, “You’re Tinder is gone. “You can’t use Tinder anymore. “You’ve been taken off.” I was like, “What, okay.” So I googled it,
– They were so overwhelmed. Yeah.
– Yeah, yeah. I was like, “And it was
that hot guy is cool.” It’s like, they just like, “You gotta get this guy outta here.” But no, I googled it and
I found all these forums of trans people being like, “This popped up for me, what do I do? “This popped up for me, what do I do?” The conclusion from
the community was like, “Oh do you have that
your trans in your bio?” My answer was yes. It was like, “Oh well
people are gonna flag that “and then if you get so
many, you’re reported. “You’re gonna be taken down.” It’s like, “No one looks into that? “No one sees what’s really, okay. “I’ll try to find love elsewhere.” I did, it was great. I’m in a relationship.
(laughing) It’s a happy story, but yeah. (clapping)
No, but it’s a lot. So making sure these platforms
aren’t unintentionally homophobic and transphobic
and then we can talk about comments and hate speech. But it’s like if the
platform as a base level, isn’t helping the creators,
it’s like what are we doing? – Also white nationalists
radicalize online. Like we know now, they
go down the YouTube hole of this hateful content. They radicalize and they almost always take action of some form. I know that companies
don’t wanna necessarily be responsible for that,
but I think you have to. We have a mass shooting every fucking day. Like, at a certain point,
you have to realize, “Is it worth human lives, to
allow this kind of content “to exist on our platform?” – [Woman] Yeah. (clapping)
– Yeah. Exactly. It’s interesting because, the
leaders of these companies, whether it be digital or anything, what bothers me is this
diplomacy that they’re employing with the language around it. We know that they are doing their best to try to like fix things. We know that the top
creator people at YouTube are not trying to hurt people. But the fact that people are getting hurt, because of the general
centering on the majority, because of that, then the algorithm then hurts the queer community. That in itself is a
signal that the minorities are still minorities and
that we are still being essentially relegated to be the ones who receive the brunt of not only problems from the official side, but problems from the hate side. Those are the people
who get hurt in the end, particularly with the Carlos Fox writer, recent discussion that
opened up this huge dialogue. But in the end, you have to ask, “Who’s the person who’s getting actually, “physically endangered?” That’s what it really comes down to. Then I’ve thought about it for awhile, and I know that yeah, you are trying everything you’re doing, but we have so many massive
companies these days, we see scandals everyday. Then we find out someone’s being funded by someone very conservative that are controlling
every aspect of our lives, even if we don’t, we’re I don’t know, riding on a fucking
bike in a exercise class who don’t know, “Oh shit,
well this goes to someone “who’s fucking funding Trump.” This is everywhere. At the very least, when you are a company, especially digitally, that
champions diverse voices, maybe it’s about time with your power and you all come from
the fucking Bay area, to actually take a stand. We might need to fight a
little bit of that fire, with our own fire.
(clapping) I know that we wanna Kum Ba Ya and shit and be like, “Let’s be diplomatic.” Because you know, I do believe
in equal rights for voices, but we are also at a
time where I think that, we have to be hyper aware
that the endangerment of other communities, is not erased. – Yeah.
– I think that it erases it by saying that
everyone should be okay to talk about what they talk about online. I think that’s a logical fallacy, that at the very least, own up to the fact that people are getting hurt. – Yeah.
– Like own up to that shit. – Exactly, it’s what
systemic oppression is. People are like, “Oh the
algorithm is skewed this way. “Yeah, we started flagging
stuff, because of hate speech, “the algorithm is skewed this way, “because there’s more people
doing this than that.” You’re saying, “So you expect independent, “queer children creators, et cetera, “to so over saturate this space, “where by the way, they are unsafe “and not welcome.” So it’s on them to just upload as much happy, positive queer
shit as they can find and then the algorithm will skew. It’s like, “No, they’re not uploading, “they don’t feel safe,
because they are not safe.” That’s how systemic oppression works. The statistics are being controlled. The statistics are skewed,
because the other people who are now over saturating the space, are not in danger. If I was a queer kid growing up today, I don’t know if I would post to YouTube. I really don’t. I don’t know if I would want that. Every time I get a video
on the main page trending, I turn of comments on my phone. Because I don’t like
hearing dyke all the time. So, could we talk about it? Take a deep breath. (laughing)
(clapping) – Oh, one minute left. Tell me what you need to tell us. You’ve–
– Escape the Night. Make it.
(cheering) Make it.
(cheering) – Switching topics. (laughing) Oh gosh. – 30 seconds. What do we need to know,
what do we need to know about what we’re doing? What organizations do
we need to know about? You have a viewership right now that might not be watching
you on your channels. You might be more industry
leaning right now. What do you need to say? – I mean, hi traditional. I’d love to make a movie.
(laughing) – [Man] Woo! I’m just a storyteller at heart, so I just love to tell
stories and I, yeah. I’m kind of switching into a more, like immersive experience
for my Escape the Night show. I created an escape room,
that I’m super excited about. It’s gonna be all this month of August, that people can come and
experience what it’s like to be in my show, which is really cool. So that’s my next project, but I’d love to make
my books into a movie. So, there’s that, yeah. – Yes, they need to be made into a movie. – Aw! – I didn’t know it was a
real escape room, by the way. – Yes!
– That’s major. – Mm-hmm (affirmative). – I don’t know, I just wanna
say thank you for having us. This was fab and I’m Gigi Gorgeous. – [Man] Woo! – I’ll get everybody to support me. – Oh we’re going down the line? – You just whatever, you
know, use your voice. (laughing) – I just wanna say that
I appreciate the tone that this panel took. I think, we do these a lot, quite often and I think it’s important
to, especially in today, talk about the power that digital has and where we can enact not
only our influential power, but our collective power as the community. I am guilty of being
someone who has always said I’m going to be the, play into diplomacy and try to bring everyone together, by not quite ruffling
feathers, or being incendiary. I just think, we’re at a point where the people who need to hear it, need to hear it hard
and the people who are fighting against it, are too far gone, to understand basic human logic. So, for me it’s just a vow that I hope all the panels that I go on about digital, are like this and that every
piece of content I make, or Tweet I say, or film I produce, is not gonna back down,
because this is a fight that’s gonna continue. I don’t know why I’m
so riled up right now. Maybe it’s because these
pants are so tight, they’re so short.
(laughing) I’ve never shown this much,
I have such hairy legs, I don’t know if y’all knew. But yeah, take this,
fucking far right America. (laughing) Take all this leg. (laughing) – [Hannah] Yeah. – Sorry, I’m so mad, right now, okay. – No.
(laughing) – I’m gonna calm down. – I would agree, I think we all share a similar rage and fear right now. Things feel scary. I also appreciate everybody’s
sort of awareness around the intersection of these
different industries and how widespread all of our
various responsibilities are. You know, from where I sit on this panel, working for a company as
large as Verizon Media, I feel very cognizant
of that responsibility and I am appreciative to work at a company that does value initiatives
like this, right, and that is committed year round. But I think that that’s
something that needs, you know the responsibility and the burden shouldn’t just be on creators of course, it should be on every
individual and every company and politician at every level. I am so grateful for Gen-Z
and hopeful about Gen-Z and terrified of the older generations. I’m just ready for things to get moving. Sorry if it’s morbid. (laughing) – I would say that ruffling feathers is not something to be afraid of. Yeah.
– Yeah. (clapping)
– [Man] Woo! – I remember a day when no
one from this traditional side of the world would give us the time of day and we were really looked down upon as just the kids in your
bedroom’s making shit. I remember craving the
validation and the credibility of all of you guys, so
much, to take me seriously. Some people did. I remember Huff Po picked
up one of my videos and finally, finally I felt
like, “Okay, I’m accepted now.” What you guys say matters so much. I love consuming traditional journalism. I love consuming magazines. I love looking to you, to know, who should I be looking out for, what voices should I be supporting? What artists are out there
that stand for something new and unique and fresh? So I look forward to seeing the kind of things that you
bring to the public’s attention. – Hi, yeah I don’t know if
there’s anything I can say, it’s that you know, I’m
queer and I’m transgender, but I also possess a lot of privilege. I’m white and I’m male passing and I’ve had, I’ve been given
a lot of great opportunities in both the digital and
the traditional space. Of anything I could say, it’d be just, don’t just give opportunities to people that look like me. That’s it.
(clapping) – Thank you from the bottom of my heart. For everything you do. – And thank you, Alexis, this was great.
– Thank you! – Thank you for letting us talk. (clapping)

10 thoughts on “Digital Media: Pride & Platforms | Full Billboard & THR Pride Summit Panel

  1. Cool panel! Would of been awesome if someone of colour was added for their perspective; Miles Jai for example 😀

  2. Tila tequila was paid to act Bi-Sexual. She is 100% straight an a homophobic. She is also insane after her car accident.

  3. Let me just say that Eugene does not deserve to be there, he is like one month out and not proud for the last years, compared with the other guests who are really a reference for the LGBTQA+ community. They've done something to change, he has not yet….

  4. I'm just so stranger to how your community works, but eventhough I'm not feeling it, I'm sure that you're much better than human beings that judge people by race.

  5. YouTube walks naked, shivering, scared holding itself. A tall menacing nun follows YT w/ a large bell in hand. "Shame!" the bell rings. "Shame!" the bell rings again.
    So much of this is on YouTube & other social media giants who cower behind free speech & the we're-just-the-platform argument.
    Weaselish cowardice has been baked into the YT model since its inception, first w/ copyright. For the first 2 years of YT, several entertainment corporations were on the verge of suing bc YT users were uploading TV shows & movies. In that same time period, there was zero porn or nudity (trust me I searched for it). I would argue there's more risque content on YT now than in the early years.
    My point is when they choose to stop something they totally & completely can. It's simply a matter of will & moral compass.
    Real ID verification (passport, driver's license, etc) across social media would be a game changer. It wouldn't be mandatory, only required for certain features such as commenting, uploading videos, etc.
    Also YT could pay verified & vetted users to moderate their platform. They always claim they can't hire enough people to check every video, but they could create a division that would confirm & oversee selected users whose likes, dislikes, comments & reports would carry more weight & any abuse of their power would terminate their special status.
    I know these actual solutions come w/ a ton of unintended consequences, but these platforms (Twit, FB, IG, etc) are just lazy & irresponsible. They want to rake in the ridiculous billions in profit while social media is literally dismantling society. They have the power, intelligence & resources to turn it all around, but lack the courage to act.

  6. No black #LGBTQ panelist, I clicked on this video knowing that this would be the case. Why? When so many black transwomen are dying.

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