People are watching. People are discussing. People are curious.
The most popular, the most discussed and the most viewed videos on YouTube come from openly gay users who produce all of their own content. You Tube, the popular video sharing Web site, continually empowers
its users to broadcast original content that can’t be seen on television.
For gays in particular, YouTube has given visibility to those who are typically ignored in mainstream media. One user, Chris Crocker, is most famously known for his dramatic, teary-eyed video in which he demands people to “leave Britney alone.” With more than 7.5 million views, Crocker produces a series of “monoblogs” in which he gives his viewers comedic videos about random topics. His gender-bending appearance and eccentric, sassy attitude made his video top out as the second most discussed video on YouTube with more than 200,000 comments.
With all the discussion and attention, Crocker has caught the eye of a major production company. In the Sept. 18, 2007, issue of Variety, Crocker revealed that he signed a deal with 44 Blue Productions and is going to star in his own reality television show. The company says it plans to create a show around the YouTube star and his life as a gay man in a small U.S. town. In addition to the show, Crocker has appeared on Maury and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Another user, William Sledd, is known for his Web-based video series aptly titled “Ask A Gay Man” in which he offers fashion advice and tips on what and what not to wear. Going as high as the ninth-most subscribed user on YouTube, Sledd appeals to all audiences: He cautions women to avoid the mom jean. He warns men to avoid the carpenter jean (unless you’re a carpenter). But whether or not you want to follow his fashion advice, his personality is undeniably genuine. William Sledd is a quirky, funny, unapologetic gay man with southern charm. He offers someone you can relate to. And more than 3 million views and 20,000 subscribers, people are paying attention.
Major mainstream media outlets are paying attention as well. NBC Universal, in cooperation with Bravo, feature Sledd on their online network, OUTzonetv.com. Furthermore, Sledd has been the topic of discussion on The View. It’s without
question that television programming is increasingly lagging behind a YouTube world. YouTube offers commercial-
less, two- to five-minute clips of just about anything you want. Television producers and companies are taking
cues from YouTube in an attempt to keep up its entertainment value. But what goes beyond television deals is the simple fact that viewers want to see gay people who are unfiltered, unscripted and unapologetic.
Viewers want to be able to identify and connect with people just like them. Does the world want another, teary-eyed gay Internet celebrity? Does the world want another gay fashion expert telling us how to dress? Apparently so.
Neal Santos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.