With millions of eyes on them, personalities on the mega-lucrative platform maintain their followings by letting strangers into their lives. But for LGBTQ YouTubers, they often have to welcome strangers into their sexual identities and come out on tape.
No one should have to come out for someone else, but when influencers leave the closet, they leave the door open for scores of queer youth to do the same.
From an up-and-coming Troye Sivan to beauty guru Ingrid Nilsen, here is a ranking of the most viewed coming-out announcements by YouTube stars.
Joey Graceffa’s coming out video is the most widely watched not because he is the most popular YouTuber on this list – he has 8 million subscribers, which appear meager next to Shane Dawson’s 18 million – but it was the most unique. In a music video for his original song, "Don't Wait," Graceffa appears as prince tormented by various mystical monsters, who is set free by his own Prince Charming, with whom he shared a kiss.
That Prince was Daniel Preda, who remains his boyfriend to this day.
Originally known as a hyper-feminine beauty guru, Nilsen’s coming out video was groundbreaking. It gave women who loved makeup the freedom to live openly, paving a path for lipstick lesbians like her. Unlike some of the other YouTubers on this list, there were no previous whispers about Nilsen being gay, and the video came as a surprise to her subscribers.
Since coming out, the first YouTuber to snag a deal with CoverGirl has toned down girlie-girl persona. She is now an advocate for making female hygiene products accessible and worked with the United Nations. After her high profile relationship with Hannah Hart (which ended in 2016) Nilsen was awarded the Trevor Digital Innovator Award from The Trevor Project for her use of tech to advocate for LGBTQ equality.
Ingrid Nilsen's openness about her sexuality not only impacted her subscribers but fellow influencers. In 2015, YouTuber Shane Dawson announced he was bisexual and expressed his gratitude to the beauty vlogger. "Your video changed my life. Thank you Ingrid," he tweeted at the time, when he had 6.7 million subscribers. Now he has over 18 million.
“This last year is when it really hit me,” he said in his coming-out video. “I always wished that I was gay, that I was 100 percent gay.” After a high-profile breakup with Lisa Schwartz, he now has settled down with boyfriend Ryland Adams.
Before he was an international pop sensation and icon amongst LGBTQ youth, Troye Sivan was a YouTuber, who made a viral coming out video worthy of this list. The South African singer was raised as a modern Orthodox Jew, yet has been open about his sexuality from a young age. He publically announced that he was gay when he was 18, and came out to his family when he was 15.
From making videos that explore young queer love to increasingly explicit LGBTQ lyrics, Sivan's advocacy gets better with age.
With only 1.5 million subscribers, Elle Mills had a massively successful coming out video, likely because it was more than her just sitting in from of her camera crying (though there's nothing wrong with that!). An intricately edited piece in which Mills asks her friends to draw what "her crush looks like" and shows them the truth – it's a woman. Not only do we get to watch Mills come out to us, but all the people closest to her.
Along with the humor, the filmmaker gives us an extremely intimate look into her fears surrounding coming out to her family and the world, using her lens as a diary.
With the help of her friends (who she's now out to) Mills wraps her family's garage in rainbow paper and introduces her mother and brother to the real her.
As one of the most visible transgender influencers, Giselle Loren Lazzarato has had to come out multiple times, all on tape. When she was 19, she came out as a gay man, only to realize she was actually a transgender woman, attracted to other women. After remaining vocal about trans rights when she was denied entry to Dubai for her gender identity, Lazzarato went on to be the subject of the documentary This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, which made a splash at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Currently, she's engaged to Getty heiress Natalia Williams.
With nearly as many views on his coming out video than his 3.3 million subscriber count, this moment was definitely a success for this YouTuber. After dating both men and women, Dillon came out as asexual.
Since opening up, Dillon has seen continued success as a singer; he released his first album, Gold, just a few months after coming out, with which he collaborated with fellow influencers Trevor Moran, Shelby Wadell, and rapper Snoop Dogg. At just 26, he's spent a decade online, and shows no signs of slowing down.
The online movie commentator is one of the most recent YouTubers to come out, telling the world "I'm Bi...I mean, I'm Bobby" in his confessional video. Burns, who is in a relationship with Jordanne Leigh, wants to be open and recognized as a member of the LGBTQ community whether or not he's dating a man or a woman.
This lifestyle vlogger opened up her personal life this summer when she posted a video announcing she was bisexual. At only 19, Paege has a following of 1.5 million, making her one of the most notable Generation Z YouTubers. Her creative coming out video, in which she shows footage of her struggling with her sexual identity, brings light to the cost of bisexual erasure and how it made leaving the closet even harder.
Her takes on style, music, and DIY videos have established her as one of the top influencers in the fashion community, offering a queer version of Carli Bybel – at least they're both from New Jersey!