As a gay man living in Brighton, one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the UK, it’s tempting to get drawn into a comfortable bubble and stay there. Brighton is a place where no-one would bat an eyelid if they saw two guys or girls kissing on the street. A place where seeing a man dressed as a woman wouldn’t phase a soul. An LGBTQ+ melting pot. A safe haven.
Indeed, for some LGBTQ+ individuals living in developed countries in the 21st Century, sometimes it’s easy to let yourself believe that we have achieved the previously unthinkable – total equality.
And that makes it all the more difficult when that illusion is shattered into a million pieces.
Yesterday, Tyler Oakley – an out and proud LGBTQ+ content creator with over 8 million subscribers reported that his content had been blocked under the new ‘restricted mode’ on YouTube which, according to PopCrave, does not show videos with anything LGBT+ related in its title and blocks out openly gay YouTubers from suggestions.
until we hear back from @youtube, please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you’re subscribed to & continue to support their content.
— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) 19 March 2017
The world was shocked at the awful injustice of it all, which caused the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty to trend worldwide.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) 19 March 2017
And soon other LGBTQ+ representatives came forward to say that their content had been blocked as well. Openly-gay singers, Tegan and Sara reported that their music videos had been blocked under YouTube’s new ‘restricted mode’.
If you put @YouTube on restricted mode a bunch of our music videos disappear. I checked myself. LGBTQ people shouldn’t be restricted. SAD!
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) 19 March 2017
We spoke to YouTubers Rose and Rosie who reported that they had suffered because of YouTube’s new rules:
“A lot of our videos have been restricted, it’s absolutely ridiculous. It seems LGBT culture, lifestyle, coming out stories etc have been deemed inappropriate for children. Well I think making that content invisible is a huge back step and potentially damaging for those seeking advice, education and hope.”
Tyler made a statement to TeenVogue about the ban, in which explains why it is imperative that YouTube amend their LGBTQ+ content restrictions immediately:
“YouTube has always been a place for disenfranchised voices to reach audiences who are actively seeking representation in media. It’s often the first place many LGBTQ+ youth around the world see themselves and their stories shared and celebrated. Blocking LGBTQ+ creators and content is harmful, plain and simple.”
YouTube Creators have now made a statement explaining the purpose of the new ‘restricted mode’.
A message to our community … pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs
— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) 20 March 2017
We don’t buy it. “Mature Content” implies that it has an overtly sexual nature which is absolutely not true about videos like Tyler Oakley’s ‘8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me’. YouTube is supposed to be about celebrating diversity and giving everyone a voice, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race of beliefs. This ‘Restricted Mode’ goes against everything our favourite YouTubers stand for. Will they be banning ‘Coming Out’ videos now?
And it’s even more ridiculous when you consider that some extremely sexual music videos aren’t restricted at all! That’s where YouTube Creator’s argument falls down. If anything, that’s the “Mature Content” that should be vetted according to their argument.
One lesson we can all learn from this is that the world can still shock you. No matter how far LGBTQ+ rights have come there is always work to do and we must all join the fight for equality. Don’t let yourself be lured into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, today’s events have proved we can’t afford that luxury.