In the 45-minute video, Howell discussed coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his thoughts on labels that people use to define themselves and others. He also talked about being bullied — and issued a message of empowerment to others going through the same experience.
“Based on your circumstance you might not feel ready to tell people yet, or that it’s safe, and that’s fine too,” Howell said in the video. “Just know that living your truth with pride is the way to be happy. You are valid. It gets so much better. And the future is clear. It’s pretty queer.”
Howell’s video is currently the No. 1 trending spot on YouTube and had accumulated more than 3.6 million views in the first 15 hours. It’s the first video he has posted on his channel in nearly a year.
YouTube, for all its highly publicized problems with hate speech and other objectionable content, has served as a place for LGBTQ people to express themselves and form community connections. In the past, YouTubers including Gigi Gorgeous, Shane Dawson, Ingrid Nilsen, Hannah Hart and Joey Graceffa have used the video platform to share their personal stories of coming to terms with their sexual orientation.
“Queer people exist,” Howell said in video. “Choosing not to accept them is not an option. To anyone watching this that isn’t out, it’s OK. You’re OK. You were born this way. It’s right. And anyone that has a problem with it is wrong.”
Howell, who has 6.5 million YouTube subscribers, rose to fame as one half of British comedy duo “Dan & Phil,” alongside his friend Phil Lester. They’ve each been making YouTube videos since 2006, but first began collaborating in 2009 and subsequently hosted a popular entertainment show on BBC Radio 1.
About his longtime collaborator, Howell said in the video, “This is someone who genuinely liked me. I trusted them. And for the first time since I was a tiny child I actually felt safe… we are real best friends. Companions through life. Like actual soul mates.”
Howell, who turned 28 this month, thanked his fans for giving him the support to reveal his sexual orientation: “i doubted all my life that the world would change to be a place i could personally feel open and accepted and that’s because of all of you. thank you,” he wrote on Twitter.
Among their other projects, Dan & Phil published a book, “The Amazing Book Is Not on Fire,” and were featured in a YouTube original concert film about their world tour, “The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire.”
Watch the video from Howell below or at this link: