Q&A with Tyler Oakley

Pop culture phenomenon Tyler Oakley will speak at OU on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

Courtesy of Oakland.edu

Pop culture phenomenon Tyler Oakley will speak at OU on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

Cheyanne Kramer, Web Editor

The Oakland Post had the opportunity to interview YouTube personality, author and LGBT activist Tyler Oakley. He will be coming to speak in the O’rena on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Oakland University students can each get three free tickets from the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development window with their OU IDs and emails.

How did you get your start on YouTube?

To keep in touch with friends and family when I went off to college in 2007!

It was a way for me to keep everyone up to date with my life, without actually having to call them every week. I’d make a video, upload it, and share it everywhere — and somehow, nine years later, it’s turned into all of this.

What’s your inspiration to keep making YouTube videos? How do you find your motivation every day to make something new? 

At the end of the day, I’m the biggest fan of my YouTube friends. They inspire me to create more fun and innovative content every day. I’m also hugely inspired by my audience — they are a part of every video I upload. My YouTube channel has always been a diary, so when I’m the least inspired, I always try to go back to the basics and just be a storyteller.

How do you face criticism?

I cry every night. Just kidding! Only some nights. The internet is mean! But I try to mute what I don’t want to see, and give attention to the people who support — positive reinforcement encourages continued positive behavior! Listen, I took one psych class in university, and I act like I know everything.

How did your degree from Michigan State University help you in your time making videos?

I studied interpersonal communication, public relations and digital marketing, and I use that every day of my life! I’d also say my experiences at MSU made a huge impact — I was an RA in the dorms and a TA where I taught public speaking — both influencing my everyday life.

You just released your new book, “Binge.” What’s your favorite story you tell in the book?

Maybe the one about my first serious college boyfriend — it’s a story I think anyone could relate to — it’s probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. That or the story about the Grindr hookup who was into feet. “BINGE” has VARIETY!

What’s something people might not know about you from just watching your videos?

I’m short! Everyone’s always like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so tiny!” and I’m like, “Well, I’m taller than my parents, so I technically won genetics, let me LIVE.”

What do you think about Bloomberg referring to you as a “YouTube sensation”?

Oh LORD. I don’t ever know what to do with things like that. I just smile and nod and say thank you, but honestly I’m just a person with a job, and thankfully I like that job.

How has being “YouTube famous” impacted you as a person?

I lead a very strange life. My “fame” is a very specific one, with a very specific demographic. I get to experience a lot of really amazing things, but for the most part, I still have a fair amount of anonymity in my everyday life, that a lot of traditional TV or movie stars don’t have. I see shifts in that the more I do things that appeal to more than just a younger demographic — for example, I was on the last season of “The Amazing Race,” and now an entirely different age group comes up and says hello. It’s all very weird, and even nine years into it, I’m still adjusting.

What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ students struggling with their identities?

No person, no matter how important society deems their relationship to you, has the right to denounce you for who you are. Families and friend groups are up for you to decide, and you deserve respect, validation and acceptance. Who you are is something to be celebrated. Also, just because someone doesn’t get you now doesn’t mean they won’t get you in the future — I have people in my life that took years to come around, but I’m happy I allowed myself distance until they did. Also, you have a bright future, and tomorrow is worth sticking around for. If you need someone to talk to, check out The Trevor Project, they’ve got a 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention call center that is confidential and free to use. There’s no shame in needing someone to talk to. In my book I talk about the time I was at my lowest and used their services. You’ll be just fine. I’m on your side.