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Finding Your Voice & Building Your Tribe: How Google spotlights LGBTQIA+ YouTube Creators Are Shaping a Safe Space in the Philippines

"Join Google as it shines a spotlight on the inspiring journeys of LGBTQIA+ YouTube creators as they navigate self-discovery and strive to build inclusive and safe communities online. Explore the stories of resilience, authenticity, and empowerment in this celebration of diversity and acceptance."

Every LGBTQIA+ person’s journey of self-discovery is unique, filled with vibrant moments and sometimes, tough challenges. In celebration of Pride Month, Google Philippines hosted an insightful discussion featuring inspiring LGBTQIA+ YouTube creators Roanne Carreon, Joshua Cruz, Jan Angelo Ong, and Yani Villarosa.

The event, hosted by the multi-faceted creative and comedian Baus Rufo, highlighted the inspiring importance of self-discovery, building safe spaces, and finding your voice online of LGBTQIA+ YouTube creators Roanne CarreonJoshua CruzJan Angelo Ong, and Yani Villarosa.

“Finding your queer identity is a never-ending process. Even if you’re out and seem like you have it all figured out, you’re still building that equation for your truth, and your authenticity. That’s why communities and representation matter because you need them to constantly be shown that these are the many possibilities that you have access to [as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community],” Baus Rufo said.

Finding Your Truth: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Building Safe Spaces

Coming out and embracing your sexual orientation and gender identity can be a rollercoaster ride for many LGBTQIA+ individuals. It’s a personal process, and there’s no pressure to have it all figured out right away. With the rise of platforms like YouTube, it’s now easier to find content that showcases different facets of LGBTQIA+ lives and their experiences in discovering their identity offering valuable insights and a sense of belonging.

“No one is pressuring you to come out, only do it when you’re ready. If you’re still figuring things out, you can Google resources to educate yourself and also find YouTube creators that resonate with your queer journey,” Joshua Cruz said. The lifestyle creator also admitted that they didn’t need to come out because of their supportive family. Joshua is paying it forward by being supportive of their viewers’ LGBTQIA+ journey, encouraging them to express themselves freely.

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Yani Villarosa said it’s also important for influential creators like herself to remind her social media followers to slow down. “Social media can be so fast-paced that people feel the need to broadcast everything. When they see others coming out, they might feel that they have to match their pace. It’s really important to tell them to slow down, especially if they look up to you.”

Despite the belief that the Philippines welcomes LGBTQIA+ members , many queer Filipinos struggle to express their true selves out of fear of discrimination and prejudice from loved ones. The lack of support could also make it hard to explore their sexuality and gender identity, which is why they turn to LGBTQIA+ creators and communities where they can meet like-minded people with similar experiences.

For Roanne Carreon, who is one-half of YouTube channel Roanne and Tina and co-founder of Queer Safe Spaces (QSS), it’s about providing support and representation, especially to young LGBTQIA+ members. “Growing up, we didn’t have role models, representation, and resources to educate people about LGBTQIA+ members. That’s why we do what we do: We wanted to create a community that can become a support system for members, especially if they’re still navigating their sexuality. It started out small, and now, we’re over 17,000 strong and we formalized QSS as a nonprofit organization,” she said.

Roanne added that being authentic and vulnerable is crucial to build relatability with their audience. This is why she and her partner Tina Boado showcase the good and ugly of their relationship in order to normalize what a regular day looks like for a WLW (women-loving-women) couple. “Our channel is a mix of fun things we do as a couple and educational content. We also talk about our mental health struggles in our videos.”

Yani is also candid about showing the “messy” sides of being a bisexual woman, who initially wasn’t accepted by her family when she came out in senior high school. “I created a safe space, not only for myself, but also for my listeners by being vulnerable about my experiences as a queer woman. I’ve shown that you’re allowed to be confused and messy, and people realize that it’s all normal. They managed to find a community that helped them realize that they’re not alone in their struggle.”

This goes to show YouTube’s impact in helping LGBTQIA+ people in navigating their self-discovery, and also show them that they can achieve so much if they live their most authentic selves. “YouTube is that vehicle that allows for a safe space to let people dream,” Jan Angelo Ong said.

Allyship and kindness go a long way for LGBTQIA+

Rec•Create founder Allison Barretto, who is one of Jan’s closest allies, believes that being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ isn’t a difficult task. “It’s so easy to love people from the community and accept them as human. You just have to be a decent human being,” she said. “Start small, recognize your privilege, step up and show up for your LGBTQIA+ friends.”

Icoy Rapadas, who is Roanne and Tina’s ally, echoed the sentiment of being kind to others. He also acknowledged the privilege of being a cisgender heterosexual man, admitting that he had to unlearn many things and educated himself to become a good ally. “I want to make sure that LGBTQIA+ people are comfortable around me, and to inform my straight friends that it’s not okay to say certain things about LGBTQIA+ people,” he said.

The LGBTQIA+ community needs allies who will celebrate their identity and lend a helping hand, even in the smallest ways, when they’re struggling. Whether they’re family, friends, or a colleague, they are the people who can help LGBTQIA+ people live happily and confidently.

“You don’t have to go the extra mile to help LGBTQIA+ members, but it wouldn’t kill anyone to be informed,” said Bryan Larosa, Joshua’s best friend and ally. “Learn how to respect each and every one regardless of their gender and preference. I think that’s the most you can do.”

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