Welcome to our series Talking to a Famous Person. In this series we publish our conversations with high-profile nonprofit...
Welcome to our series Talking to a Famous Person. In this series we publish our conversations with high-profile nonprofit founders, actors, and everyone in between.
Like any young person, Chris Crocker is soul searching. Unlike most, however, Chris navigates with a digital camera and posts his findings online-and that's made him a YouTube star. Growing up transgendered in the South, Chris found friends and acceptance online. With videos that garner millions of views each, Chris has a lot of fans, and a lot of haters. We spoke one-on-one with the "flat-chested, big-brained she/he superhero."
Good: In middle school you started an e-zine encouraging kids to come out of the closet. Do you think a magazine with a similar message on a more national scale is needed? Would you ever be interested in starting one?
Chris Crocker: Maybe not a magazine, per se, since print is near extinction, but a website would be nice. Gay youth already have so much access to information; however, I do feel they need a stomping ground that deals specifically with closet case syndrome and the steps to coming out.
G: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give to young kids struggling with their gender identity and sexuality?
CC: There is no real secret to embracing yourself. It's as simple as the cliché goes: Listen to your heart. Not the small minds around you.
G: In your opinion, what is the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights organization?
CC: GLAAD, of course. They have managed to get mainstream support, and still stay true to their purpose.
G: Your YouTube channel includes a wide range of videos, from parody shows with Earl Annie Edna to very intimate talks like "The Boy or Girl Question." In the future do you see yourself pursuing a career in acting, gay rights activism, or something else?
CC: I don't see anything in my future, really. I see a big black hole, in all seriousness. A big black hole with lots of potential, that I'm going to have a hell of a time decorating. No, but really, I would like to venture into mainstream acting.
G: Watching your videos, it's clear that you're very confident in the person that you are and with your sexuality. Is that confidence something that you acquired as a defense mechanism for bullies or is it the result of making these videos and having them be viewed on a national level?
CC: Confidence is a question of life or death. In fact, there is no question. If you want to survive in any kind of lifestyle or profession–even if you're a cashier at McDonalds–you must maintain a sense of self, or you will crumble. People can smell weakness, and I can smell really snotty noses. So I know no matter how hard I'm being judged, those bitches have boogers, too!
G: In a stunning article in Seattle's The Stranger, you shared a story of being chased in a mall by a group of angry boys. Looking to the future, what do you think is the single-most important thing to do to end violence against LGBT people?
CC: The most important thing is teaching youth tolerance. And not just tolerance, but correcting their misteachings. I really try to do my part in videos, though some would say I'm only reinforcing stereotypes. My message is to say, "It's my right to be an obnoxious LGBT figure, it is not your right to inflict violence upon me."
My work aside, I do believe schools need more gay-straight alliances. Sadly, they are unheard of in my hometown and my school recommended that I get therapy for even suggesting a gay-straight alliance in middle school.
G: You're obviously best known for the "Leave Britney Alone!" video, which has been viewed more than 29 million times and is seen as something of a joke to most people. Do you think the popularity of the video was necessary to get the word out about LGBT issues?
CC: I didn't do the video for notoriety, nor did I do it to affect change in the LGBT community. All of my previous videos were acting. That was my first video blog, as well as my first video pertaining to pop culture. Before that, I dealt with day-to-day issues. However, I am glad if that video leads anyone to my videos pertaining to gay life.
G: Do you think people see you as a voice for the gay community?
CC: I think they do, but that's not to say they like it. A lot of gays and straights tell me I am the reason gay people get killed or beat up. But as I said before, they're not realizing that my message is to say, "You can be as outrageous and obnoxious as you want. That is your right. It is not anyone's right to want to inflict pain upon you for your openness." I really feel that most gays would prefer some muscular bro-dude to be the voice of the community. I feel that it is the feminine gays that really endure the flak, so I really want to show a strong sense of femininity with a punch.
G: You have used your videos to make people aware of your own sexuality and your views on LGBT issues. What advice would you give to other young gay kids who need an outlet and an opportunity to make their voice heard?
CC: If it weren't for videos, I would probably be suicidal. I know the importance of having an outlet, especially at a young age. Do what I did: Grab a camera. Not a gun!