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There’s A Visibility And Pay Gap For LGBTQ+ YouTube Creators

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Illustration by Grace Hoffman

This is discrimination

In theory, YouTube is a democratic platform that allows anyone to post any content they might want to share with anyone who might want to watch it. The types of barriers typical for entry in the music, TV, and film industries do not, theoretically, exist on the video-sharing site, which is why the platform has such a reputation for serving as a jumping-off point for "making it big." Theoretically, everyone has the same ability to gain recognition, followers, and money for the content they create. There are some invisible barriers, though, that have restricted select content creators from gaining as much visibility or revenue from their content as others. Specifically, LGBTQ+ content creators have, time and again, called out the platform for wrongly demonetizing or otherwise restricting their videos.

YouTube's “restricted mode," which allows users to opt out of seeing more “mature" content on their feed, was called out last year for censoring LGBTQ+ content that was not explicit or vulgar in any way. Restricting videos en masse directly affected content creators' views and exposure, which is a huge problem when many creators involved make a living off of their videos. The company explained in a blog post that there was a learning curve for the algorithm and that it would take steps to restore videos that were unjustly restricted. While this particular problem seems to have been resolved, LGBTQ+ creators are still being disproportionately affected through the act of demonetization or being unable to make a profit off of their work, as well as through exclusion from the site's “Trending" and “Recommended" features. These are less obvious to viewers, yet are strongly affecting the creators. They're also harder to pin down, although testimonies from YouTubers who have been victim to these issues have provided important input.

Trevor Moran, a musician and creator who has been on YouTube for a decade, posted a video earlier this year in which he described his experience being demonetized and stripped from YouTube's algorithm. The video in question, titled “My gender," is a tearful and honest explanation of Moran's struggle to come to terms with his gender orientation. The video was neither vulgar nor sexual. The video was originally titled “Transgender," however, and Moran claims that right as it went up, he got “a notification saying, 'This has been blocked from monetization.'" While he saw his video on YouTube's “Trending" page and in “Recommended" lists shortly after he uploaded it, within a few minutes the video disappeared. Viewer counts, naturally, slowed after this. A couple of days later, Moran decided to change the video's title to “My gender." He says that “as soon as I [changed the title] from 'Transgender' to 'My gender,' it got accepted for monetization again and thrown back into the algorithm," which led to its view count climbing once more.

Image via Trevor Moran/YouTube

While it's clear that the word “transgender" in the title of Moran's video was the reason it was demonetized, he did some research to make sure this was the case. He uploaded the same video of a black screen with differing titles; “transgender" and “lesbian couple" were marked “not suitable for all advertisers," while the same video titled “straight couple" was able to be monetized. Moran is not the only creator who has had to deal with this discrimination. In November of last year, creator Alexis G. Zall initiated a Twitter exchange with YouTube, saying “my video has the word gay in the title so it has INSTANTLY been demonetized." The video mentioned is presumably “WHY I'M GAY (with illustrations)," which, again, is not sexual or vulgar in nature and has since been cleared for monetization. Rosie Spaughton, one-half of Rose and Rosie, two married British YouTubers, posts solo videos in a series titled the “Bisexy series." Spaughton is bisexual and married to a woman and in these videos attempts to dispel misconceptions and raise understanding of what it actually means to be bisexual. These videos are informative and not sexually explicit, yet Spaughton has said that they always get demonetized. George Lester, a creator who reviews books, states that his only demonetized videos are those where he reviews queer books. The list goes on.

Seemingly the only solution that YouTube offers is for creators to submit their videos for manual review so that they can bypass their content's automatic demonetization. Creators can do this while their video is still “unlisted," or before it is released to the public, so that they do not lose any potential revenue in the case that their video attracts views while it is demonetized. Basically, LGBTQ+ creators have to take extra steps to ensure that their videos are not restricted due to a flagged keyword they may have included in the title (such as “gay"). Seems a little discriminatory to me. Since videos by queer creators are not always demonetized or otherwise restricted, and since some LGBTQ+ content is explicit or unsuitable for ads in other ways, though, a solution is not clear-cut.

What makes this even more hypocritical is the favoritism that is shown to popular (and straight) creators. Logan Paul uploaded a video earlier this year titled "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest..." which showed a suicide victim's body. It was allowed to reach number 10 on YouTube's "Trending" page before Paul himself took the video down. It was monetized. In February, Paul's monetization was briefly suspended on all videos after he tazed a dead rat on camera, but it was reinstated again by the end of the month. Jake Paul, Logan's brother and a member of the famous Team 10 squad on YouTube, posted a video with a thumbnail of him being straddled by his girlfriend, who was in lingerie, with the title "I Lost My Virginity" (the video's name and thumbnail have since been changed). This video was also monetized.

Without proper exposure for LGBTQ+ YouTubers, they risk not getting adequate compensation, which will inevitably lead to them being unable to create their own content, leading to the tacit disenfranchisement of an important market of creators, making it harder and harder for marginalized experiences to be seen and heard.

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

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Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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