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YouTube Creators for Change

When YouTuber Riyadh K shared his coming out story with the world, it came as a shock to viewers.

But it wasn't shocking because Riyadh is gay — it was that his father had a confession of his own: The night he found out about his son's sexuality, he had thought about taking his own life.

“It was stupid,” his father says through tears.


Camera rolling, Riyadh embraces him, and goes on to tell his audience of over 300,000 subscribers about the incredible journey his family had been on since that night years ago.  

Because despite the initial shock and despite their conservative backgrounds, his parents have gone on to lead pride parades, meet their son's boyfriends, and celebrate his community. They love their son unconditionally.

“I’ve never seen a turnaround in two parents as I’ve seen in these two,” Riyadh tells his audience. “If we can go from where we were, to where we are now ... you can too.”

While most people wouldn’t dream of posting a video like this, it was natural for Riyadh, who knew just how impactful these videos could be.

After all, he had relied on the community of LGBTQ+ YouTubers to find self-acceptance for himself. “YouTube was a safe haven for me at a time when I felt alone, lost and unsure of who I was,” he said in a press statement.

And today, his video has been viewed over 5 million times. Not only that, but there are over 13,000 comments on Riyadh’s video, many from parents and queer youth alike, deeply grateful for his family’s honesty.

All photos via YouTube.

For content creators like Riyadh, YouTube is more than just a platform — it’s an important opportunity to make an impact.

“It was on YouTube that I became an 'accidental activist,'” he said. “I found my people and I found a purpose on this incredible platform.”

He continued, “Using YouTube to engage a global audience on issues that matter to me and my community has become my primary focus and passion in life."

That’s why this year, Riyadh has joined forces with 47 other creators around the world as part of YouTube’s Creators for Change program.

It’s a global initiative for YouTubers looking to promote awareness and empathy for diverse communities as well as the social issues that impact them most.

Creators from countries as far away as Indonesia, Israel, and Turkey have joined him in the Creators for Change program. Among them are Omar Farooq from Bahrain, whose weekly series “Omar Tries” features Omar exploring different professions and experiences to better understand people and cultures around the world.

“Seeing life through the eyes of others is the way to tolerance and acceptance,” said Farooq. “This [can] defeat any form of hate.”

There’s also Victoria Volkova, a creator in Mexico City who documented her gender transition in an effort to promote acceptance and awareness for the transgender community, particularly women.

“The Creators for Change program means an opportunity for all those communities that feel like an outcast or that they don’t belong to have a voice,” she said. “I can try to give power to these communities and [let] them know that they matter.”

Another creator is Jouelzy, who created the #SmartBrownGirl movement to empower women of color and create a safe space for them to push back against the norms that harm them. "Cultural education is needed," she said, "both in that you learn about others, but also that you learn about your own ancestors and the stories that connect us all."

With the help of YouTube’s Creators for Change program — which includes boot camps, video production help, and mentorship — creators like Riyadh, Farooq, Jouelzy, and Volkova will be empowered to do even more for their communities.

With a combined 26 million subscribers between them, this year’s Creators for Change could have a huge, global impact.

That's also why they hope to inspire others to raise their voices and make a difference too.

“The more we talk with and understand one another, the better we can come to an understanding of how to make this world better for the next generation,” YouTuber and Creator for Change ambassador Jazza John said. That's why he uses his platform to educate audiences about gay rights, technology, racism, and more.

While starting a conversation might seem simple, creators like Riyadh know that it's at the core of changing hearts and minds.

“The moment we start sharing stories is when we begin to empathize with one another, and destroy the barrier between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that we never knew was there,” he said.

“The more we normalize the ‘other’” he added, “the faster we can learn to accept and love what we are not.”

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


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