I Thought Tyler Oakley Was Overrated. I Don't Anymore.
I have a goal to save half of the sob story and just get to the heart of this letter – let’s do it.
A week ago today, YouTube star and author Tyler Oakley visited my college campus, and from the moment he stepped out on stage I knew I’d have to write him a letter – I waited a week on purpose to see if I would still feel the same as I did that night. I was surprised to see I do, and it is because of that I’ve decided to write this.
I was super late to the Tyler Oakley train. I mean really late, years late. I rejected you, I admit – I thought you were overrated. Until I went to your speech. I’m so happy I did.
I went because I had been thinking about starting a YouTube channel for a long time, but I’m a writer and a blogger ultimately and I’m not sure if YouTube is the platform for me. I had watched a couple of your videos, but I didn’t know much about you other than you were a gay rights activist, you were funny, and it was hard for anyone to argue you were anything other than good. And maybe deep down, I wanted to see if you would measure up. You exceeded my expectations.
A couple things I did know:
1. Suicide prevention matters to you. I don’t care if you choose to focus strictly on LGBTQ and suicide prevention, it matters, and as someone who lost their father to suicide in 2007 – it matters to me.
2. You want everyone to be included. One of the first videos I ever watched of yours was a video in which you talked about closed captioning your videos so everyone can participate – this didn’t apply to me as something I needed. But as someone living with a disability, seeing an able-bodied person care so much about what they could do to include everyone melts my heart.
3. You take time for anyone who has taken any kind of time for you. I cannot explain how much I admire that. It’ s nice to see someone whose stayed grounded and humble to the people you’re actually touching.
4. You are you. Period. One of the main things I took away from your speech was how important being yourself and true to yourself is. I have been running a growing blog for nearly two years with a host I was uncomfortable with on a platform I was uncomfortable with, and I was choosing not to showcase parts of myself based on the place I was working in. Upon leaving your speech I switched my blog hosts the next day (this is an ongoing process). I decided it was more important for me to be more of myself then maintain a certain image of myself I actually hated.
You brought me such a feeling of comfort and acceptance — not only because of the work you’ve done to include everyone but because of the stories you told and just the way you are. You were open about being lost and weird feelings, and you were open about how team internet stifled you but then made you – I cannot explain to you the comfort I felt in hearing that I am not alone in my feelings, and I am not doing anything wrong or irresponsible by living out so much of my life on the internet.
I bought your documentary on iTunes over the weekend only to find we were more similar than we were not. I admire the strength you had when it came to dealing with your father and all of that family mess. My father’s suicide changed so many of my family dynamics, and I have had to execute the same strength.
It turns out everything I feel and experience is valid. And everything I do and want to do is OK, and it is also OK to take the time to figure it out and to change. Tyler, thank you for being a friend to me when I’m having the worst day. Thank you for encouraging everyone you encounter to be who they are. Thank you for being you and making sure everyone knows they matter.
I only hope I can do half of what you’re doing and be half of the person you are. Thank you for reaching me.
Follow this journey on My Life As Brittney.