By Erin Cassidy
Tyler Paretchan is just like every other guy out there in Massachusetts. But one thing makes him different. Paretchan is gay.
Growing up gay or lesbian in todays’ world, for anyone, can come with its hardships. First is realizing that you are attracted to the same sex. Just that alone can cause the person to question himself or herself. Second is what is called “coming out.”
“Coming out” can be a long process for some people. It involves “coming out” to yourself first and then to friends and family. Typically we reach out to friends first in order to have a support system to fall back onto incase our family members don’t approve.
Paretchan felt that he needed some extra guidance in coming out – which is normal. He found that there were people, who identified as gay or lesbian, posting what are called “coming out” stories.
On YouTube, gay and lesbian youth have been uploading their own “coming out” stories for the public to watch. They are usually about 5 minutes, but can go for thirty minutes depending on their personal story.
These vlogs (video logs) that are posted on YouTube every single day, are there to help and inspire. They let you know you’re not alone, they bring awareness and just simply tell a story. Right now on YouTube, there are over thirty-three million “coming out” stories.
Paretchan reached out to a gay male YouTuber by the username of Davidoutt.
“David was the first gay person that I ever came across that I felt I could connect to. He was a kid, just like myself,” Paretchan said. “Except there was a major difference between the two of us: he was accepting and proud of his sexuality. I wanted to be him in that sense.”
Davidoutt, whose real name is David Collict, is a guy from Toronto. Who just happens to film videos in his bedroom.
Collict began making YouTube videos two and a half years ago when he was 16. At the time he wasn’t fully out, but wanted to still get his voice heard.
“I wanted to start my own YouTube channel because I wanted to get my own voice out there but at the time, I wasn’t 100 per cent “out” yet,” Collict said. “So I wanted to share how my story had been so far and take it from there.”
Collict said that when he was 14 or 15, he found these videos to be really helpful.
“I think it’s definitely good that so many people put their voice out there,” Collict said. “And the fact that so many people have already done it, that is what inspired me to put my own story out there.”
Once Paretchan first contacted Collict, the two formed a friendship.
“David talked me through every step of my coming out process, and still gives me advice to this day,” Paretchan said. “He never pushed me into telling people, instead he made me want to tell people. The more I talked with David, the more I wanted to be ‘out of the closet’.”
Clare Nobbs, the program coordinator for S.O.Y. – a support centre for LGBTQ youth in Toronto – said that these types of videos are out there to help.
“I think it’s important, because when someone is struggling with [the] feeling of telling their important aspect of their identity to friends, family members or just making it pubic,” Nobbs said. “To hear how it’s worked for other people, to hear how their struggles are reflected in other peoples experience is very empowering, and it makes that sense of not being alone and really reminds you that its not the end of the world, there are many people like you and ‘coming out” can actually be a really positive and healing act.”
By viewing these videos, it is hoped that everyone can realize that, yes, we all go through things and maybe they’re the same thing. Paretchan has shared Collicts’ YouTube page with one of his friends who was in the process of “coming out” still.
“David helped me out tremendously, so of course I would want him to help out as many people as he could (including my friend),” Paretchan said.
“Coming out” is never easy for anyone. It can be well received, or you can get pushed away from your family. There’s this idea that kids are “coming out” younger – it is very important to make sure that if you do “come out” that its safe to do so.
“I always tell people that being who you are is the most important thing in the world but at the same time your safety is the most important thing in the world,” Collict said. “So if they think that that’s in jeopardy, their way of living…if they want to “come out” its almost safe to save it until you know you’re in a save place in life.”
As this is such an incredibly personal thing in a persons life to “come out”, sometimes people can be pressured to do so. Its not something Nobbs wants people to go through, she feels its important for them to do it themselves when they are ready.
“I think it’s important to recognize that everyone needs to “come out” in their own time when they’re ready, there’s no right or wrong time,” Nobbs said.
Paretchan, since telling his friends and family, has some advice for others who are either thinking about, or are in the process of “coming out”…
“My suggestion: Coming out of the closet is probably the biggest risk that someone could take. And it is just that: a risk. Risks by definition mean that there is something amazing that can come out of them. Granted it isn’t easy to come out, and everybody has a different situation, but coming out honestly changed my life for the better. I have reached new levels of personal happiness that I didn’t think were possible. Start with a small risk, and watch it grow into pure and complete happiness,” Paretchan said.