There are YouTube channels for everything, so why wouldn't there be one for gay potheads? Colorado-based marijuana enthusiast Arend Richard fills that niche with his own channel, where he teaches folks the basics of toking, shares stoner stories, and like any YouTuber worth his clicks, does some over-the-top stunts (e.g., 40 hits in one sitting). On 4/20, we caught up with Richard to talk shop.
The Advocate: How did your YouTube channel come about? Did anyone say, "Hey, this isn't such a good idea"?
Richard: My YouTube channel almost came about accidentally. I had been on YouTube for a few months trying out different things to figure out where I fit. One day, I made a video about how to smoke weed from a pipe. Why? I don't know. I guess it was something that genuinely confused me when I first tried cannabis, so I thought I could share my experience. A few weeks later the video had over 100,000 views. I kind of found a niche I didn't know existed. Accidentally.
No one in my life has ever directly told me they thought it was a bad idea. Also, I started smoking weed on YouTube long after Colorado had legalized cannabis recreationally. So the stigma where I lived really wasn't there. I'm sure my family dislikes it, but you can just add that to the list of things they dislike about me but don't say to my face. Don't worry, I'm a happy person.
What's your backstory with cannabis? How did you meet and fall in love?
Another weedtuber friend of mine (that's what YouTubers who smoke weed in their videos are called) once said, "Weed isn't Jesus." Meaning that even though we all smoke it regularly for our videos, it doesn't run our life. I agree with that, but I will be the first to admit I really, really like weed.
I had used cannabis a handful of times in high school and college. I enjoyed it, nothing more. It wasn't a lifestyle. But in 2012 I saw a specialist for an autoimmune disease I have called mastocytosis. It's a blood cell disease, it's crazy rare, and I was born with it. Unfortunately, it wasn't Maybelline. This specialist suggested cannabis as a treatment alternative to several of the pills I would need to take. From then on we were inseparable.
Gay "party" culture seems to often involve drinking and/or hard drugs. Do you feel there's a silent queer stoner culture now coming to light?
I sure hope so. Queer stoners are — in my opinion — some of the most forward-thinking minds in terms of across-the-board queer acceptance within the community. We need the chill stoners to bring the community together, dude.
Do you hope to change the stereotypes around weed, or are you just having fun sharing your love of cannabis?
I would love to change the stereotypes. But a stereotype is just that. In every different possible division of humans there exists a stereotype about that group of people. Does that mean all people of that group are that stereotype? No. I think more than changing people's minds about the stoner stereotype, I would rather bring people everywhere to a less narrow mind-set about stereotypes in general, if I could. But I will say this about stoners being lazy: Oprah smoked weed. She ain't lazy.
What's your day job?
Up until about six months ago I was a restaurant manager. The food industry was my trade for most of my adult life thus far. But recently I've been lucky enough to make a living doing freelance creative projects. Which is incredibly rewarding. I didn't start my channel for weed; I started it for a creative outlet. And I'm so lucky that the channel has given me so many opportunities already.
Any recommendations for strains or edibles? I hear Melissa Etheridge is developing her own line.
Personally I always recommend Ghost Train Haze. It's been my undefeated favorite since 2014. It's incredible. The happiest high you can get!
Lastly, what would you say to our homophobic attorney general, who's a staunch opponent of legalization?
I would let him know that he would be going up against a billion-dollar industry. An industry that has raised 135 million in tax dollars for one state. An industry that has helped fix up the schools all around Colorado. All in all, that's not my battle to fight, though.
As for the homophobia, that's a disease that seems a bit uncurable, if you ask me, but I'll pray for him, for sure. Whenever I decide that religion is a thing I want to do again. I probably won't.