Why No One Benefits from the Censorship of LGBTQ+ YouTube

If you're not tuned in to media news, you probably haven't heard of the harm being caused by YouTube's "restricted mode," designed to give kids and tweens a safer, more age-appropriate viewing experience. This, in theory, is a smart idea as these younger demographics are turning more and more to web video and streamed entertainment. Restricted mode aims to block content that is sexually suggestive, profane, or otherwise mature in nature. This means popular personalities like Tana Mongeau (who's most popular videos contain the 18-year-old sharing stories of getting blackout drunk and borderline glamorizing unprotected sex) and certain BuzzFeed videos surrounding topics of sexual abuse and assault. That, in my opinion, is fair game. Those are mature topics that, in addition to being entertaining and informative, aren't "rated PG," if you will. However, where YouTube crosses the line is the unfair censorship of LGBTQ+ content creators.

Just for a little experiment, I turned on my restricted viewing mode recently and began browsing videos posted from popular content creators such as Tyler Oakley, Hannah Hart, and Gigi Gorgeous. Turn on this seemingly innocent, good-natured feature and the video libraries offered by these creators are dashed. But not for reasons I mentioned earlier. Videos where Tyler praises 8 Black LGBTQ+ creators for their activism: gone. Hannah recalls the difficulty she felt coming out as a lesbian in a conservative Christian environment: incognito. Gigi gives a genuine, heart-wrenching recount of her experience transitioning to female: not accessible. Bear in mind, none of these videos include images or language that is universally deemed offensive or vulgar by any means. These videos are banned when browsing in restricted mode just by virtue of the creators not being straight. What about this is so sinister?

While there's no clear answer as to when these videos became restricted, the news came to light on Friday, March 17th. Oakley was quick to retweet the article breaking the story, asking YouTube directly: "Got answers?" In response, a rep for the premier web video host tweeted the following message, the usual vague PR-laden non-answer:


Essentially what this means is you can still access content created by LGBTQ+ YouTube creators, but any video that in any way references their sexuality or gender identity is off-limits. You can see Tyler interview One Direction, but not discuss attending a Pride parade. You can watch Hannah cook, but not thoughtfully unpack serious issues she experienced in her formative years. You can watch Gigi apply makeup, but not discuss the loving, monogamous relationship she is in with another woman. This doesn't sound like the appropriate solution from a company that values "an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community."

Various creators have put out official statements regarding the issue, and viewers and fans have taken to Twitter to trend the topics #ProudToBeRestricted and #YoutubeIsDeadParty. The fact of the matter is there remains a very small subset of the population that believes the mere existence of the LGBTQ+ community is in someway wrong or offensive, but catering to an archaic, exclusive group is exactly the wrong way to go. And since you're catering to that small group, YouTube, I'd love to know: what about LGBTQ+ people existing is harmful? Forget them displaying PDA or getting married (which are also valid human experiences these individuals are entitled to, by the way) but literally just existing? Speaking as a young woman who spent her formative years on YouTube, I believe the biggest strength of this interface to be the diverse community. When YouTube was formed, it was formed on the expectation of an inclusive experience where anyone could broadcast themselves. If traditional media, after all this time, refuses to be diverse in the stories it tells, what business do you have to follow in its footsteps? I thought the goal was to stray from those tired standards for entertainment.

In short, Oakley puts it best when he says "Blocking LGBTQ+ creators and content is harmful, plain and simple."

Comments

  1. Thank you for bringing this our attention, never noticed this otherwise. I completely agree with you on how wrong and unfair this is, portraying LGBT videos as something offensive and vulgar, hope more people see this and report this issue.

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