National Coming Out Day: YouTube's role in one creator's self-discovery
Today marks the 33rd year for the celebration of National Coming Out Day. The day, which falls annually on October 11th, honors the courage and conviction of those who’ve come forward to champion who they are, whether they openly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. We sat down with YouTube comedy creator DankScole to discuss her own life experiences and where she stands today.
How old were you when you realized who you are, and how did your family and friends react?
I can’t really recall the exact age I knew who I was. I was always big in school, so I really didn't focus on anything else besides school, basketball and writing. I guess I always had feelings I couldn't explain when I was younger. I remember being obsessed with Aaliyah back then. I had a karaoke machine when I was 4, and I would perform her songs all the time. Looking back, I think I just had a crush on her. It wasn’t until high school that I really got to come out of my shell and think to myself, "I think I'm attracted to the same gender."
My family had moved to Houston, so I was kind of figuring everything out for myself in Milwaukee alone my final year of high school. When I finally came out to my family the day before graduation, everyone was pretty accepting. My older sister is also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, so she kind of made it easy for me.
What role – if any – did comedy play when you first came out to them?
Comedy didn't play much of a role, I’ve always been goofy so I guess my personality made it easy for those around me to accept who I was.
Last year in your “coming out” video, you made the point of asking, “If I cry over being myself, what kind of role model would that make me?” Talk about your thinking behind your video, and the response you received?
When I made my coming out video, I wanted to tell my fans in a way that related to me. I watched other people's videos, but none of them really felt natural to me. That’s when I got the idea to use comedy as an icebreaker for my fans. I often feel like it’s expected of us to have this entire sad story and video, but the honest truth was I’m very okay with my sexuality.
I didn't want to get on camera and cry because I felt like that wouldn't have been true to me as a person. I also tell my fans to be themselves and love the skin they're in, so crying would almost negate everything I stand for. I want to destroy the stigma surrounding the queer community–we don't have to cry about who we are. I think the most beautiful thing is self-acceptance, REGARDLESS of societal beliefs.
YouTube has allowed me to unapologetically be myself and inspire others who feel the same.”
How has your YouTube journey impacted your journey of self-discovery? How do you view yourself as a role model for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond the community?
YouTube has helped me discover myself in so many ways. When I first started, I was hesitant to be myself because I honestly thought I was too weird for anyone to want to watch me. I found myself trying to fit into molds that weren’t me at all. However, as I've grown on this platform, I’ve realized that there are SO MANY people who feel the same way I do–people who don't fit traditional “cool” standards. YouTube has allowed me to unapologetically be myself and inspire others who feel the same.
I think I have a unique position not only as a woman in the LGBTQIA+ community but also as a woman of color. There aren’t too many people I have to look up to, so for me, I feel like I’m showing people it’s okay to be a part of these spaces. I have a lot of people come up to me and tell me I’m the reason they started feeling comfortable in their own skin. I know I can change a lot of lives, and I kind of take that seriously.