A gay content creator’s viral thread exposed YouTube's casual acceptance of homophobia

A Bloomberg investigation of YouTube last April found that videos produced for an extreme, alt-right audience are just as popular as music, sports, and gaming on the platform.

These channels allow for the rampant spread of misinformation, hate speech, and harassment. Carlos Maza, host of "Strikethrough" a Vox-produced YouTube show that explores the challenges facing the news media in the age of Trump, perfectly illustrated the cycle of abuse in a recent tweet thread.

Maza knows the cycle first-hand because he has been targeted by conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder who routinely refers to Maza by derogatory terms such as "anchor baby" and "lispy queer."

Maza says that Crowder's comments have resulted in a "a wall of homophobic [and] racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter."

After repeatedly flagging Crowder's YouTube videos and receiving zero response, Maza took to Twitter to vent his frustration.


After the tweet thread went viral, YouTube responded by announcing it would investigate Crowder's channel.

Crowder responded to the investigation by condemning those who have harassed Maza. "I have always condemned and continue to discourage any and all forms of doxxing or targeted harassment of anyone online, ok?" he said in a video response.

But he defended calling him a "lispy queer" because "it's funny and this is a comedy show" and because Maza refers to himself as queer.

Crowder's defense is disingenuous because there's a big difference between using the term queer to refer to someone's sexual orientation versus using it as an insult. His defense is tougher to believe when he uses the term "fag" to disparage people.

Crowder also claimed that the investigation was a form of corporate censorship and an attempt by YouTube to please NBC, a Vox Media investor.

Maza responded to Crowder by calling his assertions "batshit."

And yet after all of that, YouTube's investigation proved mostly fruitless. Though the company apologized to LGBTQ groups for Crowder's harassment, they've decided to let him keep his YouTube channel.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.