I love to watch YouTube. You probably know this. I’ve talked a lot about how much I love the channels of people like Rachel Oates, Jaclyn Glenn, Viced Rhino, and Genetically Modified Skeptic. But the channels that I watch the most are “comedy” channels, like Alyx Weiss, Kurtis Conner, Drew Gooden, and Jenna Marbles. Laughing at YouTube videos like theirs can make my whole day sometimes. Whenever I feel down, I really don’t need motivational quotes or encouragement to make me feel better. What I need is to laugh.
But no one is just funny; YouTubers and other comedians are people with lives, feelings, relationships, and problems, who use laughter as their remedy as I do. And to truly appreciate a creator’s work is also to take the time to be serious and see the real them on occasion—not that the comedic personality is fake, but it’s not all there is.
This post was born from several YouTube videos that I saw this week from hilarious creators, but the videos weren’t funny; they tugged at my heartstrings and occasionally snapped them. I wanted to share them in more ways than through a retweet.
When you see popular, funny, and seemingly happy YouTubers in the LGBT+ community, you don’t assume that they really still have to worry about not being accepted. I mean, they’re famous! Being gay is just a part of who they are—it’s in their lives and in their content. It’s organic. But even they are fighting to be accepted, and not only by the trolls in their comments, but by their own families.
The first video that I want to share with you is by Ricky Dillon. I’ve been watching his videos for a few years now. He’s upbeat and funny, he has a pig, and he plays the trumpet. He’s a fun guy, and he loves to say it! Ricky has been open in the past about questioning his sexuality (he said three years ago that he thought he might be asexual) and that YouTube isn’t always great for his mental health. But last week, he was finally open to the Internet with something he has known for years: he’s gay.
“I grew up in an environment . . . where being gay is so wrong. I grew up Christian . . . and I was taught that being gay is a horrible sin, it’s so bad, it’s the worst thing you could be. It was drilled into my brain from an early age that being gay is one of the worst things that can happen!”
The most heartbreaking thing in Ricky’s video is that he recorded this, then came out to his family, and then uploaded it. He said he wasn’t afraid to tell his audience, but he hadn’t told us because he hadn’t been ready for his parents to know. It makes me sad that even people who seem so happy, and who are so well-liked, and even comfortable and confident being their LGBT selves, still have to deal with this. Fame doesn’t make the pain go away. You can accept yourself as much as you want and can, and it will still hurt when your loved ones don’t. It’s draining to have to remind yourself that you are worthy of love when everyone is telling you you’re not.
This brings me to the next video that I want to share with you. I watched this video right before writing this (and having the rest of the post already planned), and it made me cry. Mind you, videos never make me cry unless they’re about people who have to put their cats to sleep. But this one really hit me, and it surprised me.
I’ve been watching Hannah Hart since she started her channel in 2012. Her videos have, and she has, always had a special place in my heart. I feel like I know her. She’s the one I was talking about before when I mentioned LGBT YouTubers who have always been so open and confident about their sexuality. So it really took me aback when I saw this video. I recommend you watch it (I mean, if you want to cry), but the title and thumbnail pretty much capture the emotion of the entire video.
“This is his way of saying, ‘I accept that you’re gonna do this act, which is against the Witnesses,’ his religion. And that’s not what it is. I’m just getting married!”
I think back to seeing the music video for Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down. (And by the way, Taylor’s documentary, Miss Americana, is phenomenal. It gets honorable mention. Watch it.) It was a fun, bright, colorful video celebrating the LGBT+ community. Hannah was featured in it, and it showed characters dressed as a pesky homophobic hate group.
That music video may give someone the impression that its LGBT+ stars easily brush off homophobic people and don’t let what they say hurt them. But you don’t just have People That Accept Homosexuality over here and People That Don’t over there. More often than not, they’re in the same families. A proud, open lesbian can still have a father who is a Jehovah’s Witness, and when he invalidates her life and her love, she has to do that much more work to remind herself that she hasn’t done anything wrong.
Finally, I’m ready to tell you about the video that gave me the idea for this entire post. Actually, it’s not only a video, it’s a podcast: an episode of the Rhett and Link podcast called Ear Biscuits. The irony that a podcast with a name like Ear Biscuits hit me so hard on an intellectual and emotional level is what this post is all about. (Like how the host of My Drunk Kitchen just made me bawl my eyes out.) Rhett and Link are the famous YouTubers behind the show Good Mythical Morning and dozens of other projects across several YouTube channels. And unlike Hannah Hart and Jenna Marbles, I have never watched them before this week, but I’m about to start.
I first learned that Rhett and Link had come out as agnostics publicly on their podcast through a tweet from Viced Rhino, an atheist/evolutionist YouTuber.
The video that resonated most with me, Rhett’s Spiritual Deconstruction, is the third part of a four-part series. Of course I recommend the entire series, but it would take hours and hours to get through it all, so I’m talking only about Rhett’s episode.
Rhett’s story of leaving evangelical Christianity was uncharted territory for their podcast or any of their YouTube channels. They’re comedians. No one expected it. He was nervous, and it seems like Link was even more nervous when he told his story the following week. It was interesting for me to see him shy away from talking about controversial things like young earth creationism and belief in God, because that’s my favorite stuff to talk about.
Of course, I know that there is a time and a place for things like that. I don’t really want to talk to you about atheism at work, but that’s what this blog is for. It’s not what their podcast is for, which is why I think it’s so important that they talked about it there. Everyone has a worldview, including “Internetainers”.
I loved listening to Rhett’s story. If you listen to it, you’ll immediately know why I liked it. He tells his deconstruction story as it happened, from his point of view. He tells you what made him first doubt young earth creationism (ironically, it was a Christian book I read and reviewed), and how everything else began to fall away from there. Contrasting Link’s story of leaving the faith, which was more due to its toll on his mental health, Rhett’s was intellectual like mine. He read a lot of the same books I read and thought what I thought.
Rhett takes you step by step through his initial doubts, and he could not emphasize enough how much he did not want to leave his religion. He had built his life, friendships, marriage, and parenthood all on Christianity. He did not want to leave, but when he did the research, he just couldn’t accept Christianity as true anymore. He tried accepting it with emotion and not just blunt reason, but that cognitive dissonance wasn’t healthy or sustainable.
If you find yourself reading this post early on Sunday afternoon with a mundane day ahead of you, I recommend putting this podcast on in the background and just listening to what Rhett has to say. His goal isn’t to argue anyone out of their faith, but I think that that can happen the most when someone is just telling their honest story without an agenda. (I mean, just watch Hannah’s video above and then tell me how you can possibly still be against gay marriage. I dare you.)
I’ll leave you today with some quotes from Rhett’s podcast that he read out of his journal from when he finally shed his belief in the Christian god. I had never thought of them this way before, but I think that anyone with significant doubts about their faith would find it worthwhile to ask themselves these questions.
“If I don’t have to believe that God ordered his chosen people to slaughter innocent men, women, and children by the thousands, then why would I?
“If I don’t want to believe that every religious experience of any person who is not a Christian is ultimately illegitimate, then why would I?
“If I don’t have to believe that anyone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus, i.e. the majority of people who have ever lived, are going to spend eternity being literally tortured in a fire, experiencing neverending pain and torture, then why in the hell would I believe that?
“If I can somehow accept the idea that Hell exists because of God’s holiness, why would I believe in a god who chooses to create that particular world where people have no choice whether or not they’re going to be born, but then once they are born, if they don’t adopt the correct understanding of God, he will punish them forever. Why believe in that god if I don’t have to?”