During his freshman year at Michigan State University, Tyler Oakley uploaded his first video to YouTube, having no idea how much the simple act would change his life.
Today, Oakley is one of the Web’s biggest icons, with more than 7 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, which now boasts more than 350 videos. The 26-year-old has also parlayed his popularity into becoming a social media power player, with more than 21 million followers, including Hilary Clinton, on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
As an out gay man, he’s also become an icon for LGBT people of all ages, proving queer people can find success by living an open and authentic life. As a social rights advocate, he regularly uses his influence to help raise funds and awareness for organizations such as the Trevor Project, and creates videos that aim to both educate LGBT youth and create future allies.
This year Oakley has continued to expand his reach by authoring his memoir, Binge, and staring in his own day-in-the-life documentary, Snervous. The film’s title is slang, meaning “scared and nervous,” but Tyler hopes his success will show LGBT youth they have nothing to be snervous about.
In the latest episode of Advocate Spotlight, Oakley talks about his growing status as a pop culture phenomenon and the pressures of living in the public eye, and dispenses a few wise words for presidential candidates about the use of social media.