Video Analyses: Being Queer in College
David Levitz’s Being Gay in College is a concise presentation of suggestions for a gay college student. As he states in his disclaimer, “This is by no means an all-inclusive list of advice. [Also] I’m working with the assumption that you’re going to attend a fairly liberal university.” I want to extend that disclaimer by making it clear that his advice pertains only to the G acronym in LGBTQ+. In this video, David discusses the notion that liberal colleges are, in relation to high schools, wonderful environments in which to come out and perform your gender or sexuality in whatever form you desire. He continues by discussing the necessity to take LGBT courses (As a gender studies major, I absolutely concur), join queer on- and off-campus organizations, attend queer events/parties, and—most importantly—to find a “gay mentor.” As someone who’s watched his fair share of queer advice videos, I haven’t seen many others make that last point—I can’t stress enough just how important it is to find someone in whom you can confide and from whom you can learn.
TheButchandtheBear’s How to be Gay in College provides a brief—and problematic—synopsis of how one should perform their gender or sexual identity while in college. Essentially, the video is literally telling you how to be a gay person—“Be yourself, dress to impress, show a little pride, and surround yourself with other gays.” While I understand that the video is a homemade, do-it-for-fun video uploaded by two friends, I find the advice a tad-bit over simplistic and, quite frankly, a tad bit problematic. Firstly, there is no disclaimer about the limitations created by one’s sexual or gender identity (the tips only work for gay men) or one’s location (spatial recognition is incredibly important when thinking about the social-acceptance of an individual’s identities). Secondly, the tip about dressing to impress stereotypes gay men as always-fashionable and incredibly vain. Thirdly, surrounding oneself with other gays is actually a terrible idea, in my opinion! It’s great to have many queer friends and to participate in social and political organizations related to queer culture, but to only surround yourself with queer friends is a form of segregation—you are telling the world that you don’t want to befriend hetero-people nor do you want the hetero-community to get to know you. I understand the well-intentioned message behind the video, but gay advice videos are viewed by people in increasingly vulnerable positions and conditions, and to make light hearted satire of these vulnerabilities is plainly wrong.
Kingsley’s I Am Not Your Gay Best Friend is a sassy video that I snapped to during its entire run. As someone who performs his sexuality in a very flamboyant manner, I am oftentimes called “the gay best friend.” This phrase makes my blood boil as it does two things: A) Perpetuates the trope of the fashionable and sensitive gay bestie, and B) Puts my sexual identity at the front and center of my holistic identity (Why is there a difference between gay best friend and best friend? Can’t I just be your best friend that happens to be gay? Why mention my sexuality at all when you call me your best friend?) Kingsley hits these two points home when he deconstructs the stereotype of fashionable queer men: “I don’t give a fuck about your clothes…I don’t know anything about the seasons…if you ask me about the season, I’ll say ‘bitch, it’s spring.’” For anyone that’s ever faced this issue (looking at all of you gay men with those annoying sorority besties who think their “gay best friend” is the human-equivalent of a purse or a necklace), this video is top-notch.