Last year when staring and scrolling and refreshing Youtube, I did something different…I clicked on a recommended video. Radical right? And then I did a silly thing and binge watched almost the full channel. The next night I mentioned the channel titled ‘Roseellendix’ to my girlfriend on the phone and it turned out she’d also watched all their videos. We began to fangirl.
Roseellendix is a Youtube channel created by Rose Dix, featuring videos of herself and her girlfriend (now wife!) Rosie Spaughton. In an alternative universe, I don’t think we would have been friends in high school. Nor do I think I’m gaining any grand intellectual insights watching them. So why does the ‘fangirling’ continue? (Like omg, they do these really cute video chats with their viewers every Tuesday, and have cute wedding photos on their Instagram and their cat Flynn went missing recently but survived. Phew!)
Is it the girl-love aspect? Not entirely. After discovering Rosie and Rose, I’ve tried to watch similar videos by other girl couples but they’ve always felt cold. So is it Rosie and Rose’s personalities? Yes- to an extent. As a duo the girls are funny, entertaining, at times thoughtful and altogether warming to watch. But would I obsessively watch the life of a heterosexual couple on Youtube? Unlikely. I wouldn’t need to. I grew up on heterosexual love/sex/relationships. I watched all the rom-coms, the when Harry met Sally’s or the Pretty Woman’s or the Pride & Prejudice’s or the Sense & Sensibility ‘s or… and on. I was taught in school that sex was purely a P in V only affair (which not only excludes parts of the LGBTQA+ community, but highlights a wider problem with our rigid perceptions of sex). As a day tripper of the school library I thought I read widely, but looking back I can’t remember encountering a single LGBTQA+ character.
For me then, watching Rosie and Rose is about the invisible being made visible in a way that I never encountered in the media I consumed previously. But it’s more than that, because vlogging is its own medium. Even if mainstream TV, film, books ect do diversify in representation (and lets not pretend this is purely an issue of LGBTQA+ representation), they won’t have the sense of ‘realness’ that comes with vlogging. Watching Rosie and Rose I get the same ‘we’re real, we exist!’ rush that I get when I see two girls holding hands in the street. This holds particular importance when girls holding hands irl is a rare sight. The ‘realness’ of these videos also works to shut down my internalised societal voice when she asks ‘how do you know you’re bisexual’ as if I’m obliged to prove my desires to myself. And whilst there may be something to be relished in the abnormal status of queer, these videos are a reminder that queer can also just mean you and your girlfriend snuggling on a sofa, having a chat.
Vlogging is also special because it’s personal. It’s personal in that vloggers are a little more touchable and contactable than the actors, writers and muscians we look up to. It’s personal in a way that allows LGBTQA+ people to control their representation, without an ‘outside’ party negotiating an individual’s identity. It’s personal in a way that allows individuals to purely be individuals rather than spokespersons for whole groups, thus showcasing a multitude of experiences. I may relate to Rosie and Rose, and you may not. That’s also fine. But for me vlogging as it stands now will still feel more real, more personal than creative fictions. It doesn’t merely fill the representation gap, but offers a different way to connect that can particularly resonate with some LGBTQA+ people. Though representation is by far not the only issue LGBTQA+ people face, I still view vlogging as just a little radical, right? So in the quest for personal multitudes, here’s just a few other LGBTQA+ vloggers/channels that I enjoy watching…
Jake eloquently speaks about the very issue of trans visibility on youtube in this video, and makes some great points about how representation can impact lives. Jake makes a variety of videos, such as life vlogs, videos showcasing his original poetry and music, and advice videos. ( Plus he’s already released two albums, which is pretty impressive)
Alex has a huge backlog of great videos about sexuality and trans issues. You get a real sense he puts a lot of effort into what he’s doing and really does want to educate people. Two recent developments on his channel are TGT (Trans guy talks) where he and Jake talk more informally about a broader range of issues, and TQTAB (The Quest to Alex’s Beard) which is a new series discussing the various stages of his medical transition. (ps if you’re annoying like me and like watching cute love, see his and Jake;s relationship)
Kat Blaque makes a myriad of videos, a number of which are these great critical ones, which often focus on feminism, race, trans issues, and life as an illustrator. Her illustrated videos are pretty beautiful, and two of them can be found here and here.
Everyone is gay don’t believe everyone is gay, but they do make a great lip-syncing advice-giving duo. It’s particularly nice to hear so many lesbian and bisexual women phoning in with their love/life que(e)ries, as often when we talk about gayness it is centred on gay men.
Kristen of everyone is gay now also works on First Person, a new channel that focuses on the personal stories of LGBTQA+ people. It’s a nicely polished show, and even though it has only just started I’ve enjoyed all their episodes so far.
Dark Matter are Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian, a poetic duo who probably would stir up some of the things I’ve written here. They’re beyond and their words are challenging and important. This great piece by Alok gives another angle on representation and how representation is not enough. I’m still learning/questioning/moving and their work is an endless teaching to me. It might be for you to.