Tyler Oakley, a top YouTube star and a vocal LGBTQ supporter, has expanded his special programming block for Pride Month this year in a series examining different queer experiences across the country.
Oakley’s 2018 “Chosen Family: Stories of Queer Resilience” series, which began rolling out last week, features an LGBTQ+ roundtable chat featuring notable voices in the community: Jazz Jennings, Joel Kim Booster, Alex Newell, Jackson Bird, and Annie Segarra.
The roundtable discussion over brunch, which debuts June 19, is a reprise of his Pride Month event last year. Some of the talk is light — they’ll share about first crushes and kisses. But Oakley and the group also have frank conversations, specifically about the deeper elements of being LGBTQ+, including how intersectional identities of race, location, age, ableism and more affect the individual queer experience. (Watch the video below, or at this link.)
In addition, Oakley and his co-director, photographer and video producer Nathan Flanagan-Frankl, created six documentary-style episodes as part of the Chosen Family series in which he interviews people from different walks of life about the LGBTQ experience.
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“Last year, Chosen Family really resonated with my audience,” said Oakley. “This year it’s kind of bigger — the unifying concept is all being there for each other.”
Of course, Oakley wants to gets traffic for his videos. But there’s a larger cause: Each video in the Chosen Family series will have a corresponding pin viewers can buy, and the proceeds will go to the charities related to the video.
For example, the pin being sold in conjunction with the June 19 roundtable episode is a blue text bubble with the message “Same,” with sales proceeds benefiting GLAAD. The pins — designed by queer artist Adam Kurtz — cost $9 each and are available to order through chosenfamilypins.com.
Topics in the 2018 Chosen Family series span a wide gamut. One episode will be about homelessness in LGBTQ; another takes a look at challenges same-sex couples face in adopting children. Oakley also talked with elderly queer people about their perspectives on being LGBTQ in America.
“My audience suggested topics I’d never thought about. It’s been a roller coaster to travel around the country to make mini-documentaries for each episode,” he said. “One thing I hadn’t thought about was how being queer affects your aging process, especially for the generation that went through the AIDS crisis.”
Oakley has been working with Flanagan-Frankl, who has a film background, for more than a year. The partnership has broadened his creative horizons, Oakley said.
“I never went to school to make films or documentaries, or even videos. In my almost 11th year of YouTube, I’ve expanded what I thought was possible,” Oakley said. “Working with Nathan resparked my love for making videos. It pushed me to do something bigger than what I thought I could do.”
Oakley has over 7.5 million subscribers on YouTube and over 23 million across his social media platforms, and he hosted “The Tyler Oakley Show” on Ellen DeGeneres’ Ellentube network for a year.
In addition to his main YouTube business, Oakley and his best friend Korey Kuhl launched “Psychobabble,” a weekly podcast discussing “unfiltered gossip” and untold stories, and the duo also placed third on season 28 of CBS’s “The Amazing Race.” Oakley’s book “Binge” spent 11 straight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and he’s the subject of documentary “Snervous” from Awesomeness.
Watch the “Chosen Family” roundtable: