I’m surprised there hasn’t been more attention for Ingrid Nilsen, the YouTube fashionista. Here in Pittsburgh, the news was most likely overshadowed by the Pirde drama, but this is a story, everyone needs to care about, and here is why.

IngridNilson

In a nutshell, Ingrid Nilsen isn’t a stranger to attention. She puts herself out there all the time and has a huge following. She is not a person who lacks courage or who comes acrosss having any self-doubt. She is clearly a success in every regard. But even with all that success, she has kept her sexual orientation a secret until now. Why is that?

With more traditional media stars, like the Hollywood type, the closet can seem mandatory. Hollywood is a competitive place and far more conservative than not. But YouTube isn’t like that at all. YouTube is that democratic space where just about anyone with something to share can garner an audience, and we all know that the younger generation is far more accepting, right?

Activist and advocates for LGBTQ Equality, need to pay attention! It isn’t easy for our youth to come out. There may be far greater¬†visibility of gay, lesbian, bi, and trans persons all around, but that, in and of itself, doesn’t make coming out safe. In fact, it may set youth up to try and come out before they have an adequate support system.

Too often, LGBTQ activists and advocates focus only on the big issues like nondiscrimination, hate crimes, or marriage.  All of these matter, but none of them address the base issue of safety. The fear of abandonment, bullying, or brutality is as tangible and potent today as it has ever been in the past.

And it isn’t just some kids who struggle, some kids who feel alone, or some kids who lack confidence or support. It may be all kids, we just don’t know. But Ingrid’s story may suggest it is rough for many, many, kids.

There is a fallacious myth out there that too many activists and advocates perpetuate, that youth today have it easier. And this myth has detrimental consequences, because it leaves our youth out there alone and not fully supported.

It may be that for kids today, it is even harder than it used to be, only because they have more exposure to LGBTQ individuals on TV so it is easier to name their own identity at a younger age. The anti-LGBTQ voices everywhere are as vocal and as nasty as ever, and maybe even worse. Our youth are facing all this negativity while they own their identity and seek to explore that identity.

I hear people all the time asking what LGBTQ activists ought to work on after marriage is complete and nondiscrimination is done (as if that is a done deal– it isn’t). The answer is easy: we have to care more about our youth and end bullying and brutality. Whatever we can do to make coming out easier is the most important thing we as a LGBTQIA coalition can accomplish.

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