YouTube star discusses social media for change
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:12
Shirtless sensation, gay rights activist and YouTube celebrity Davey Wavey last night explored the role of social media in creating positive change and promoting greater acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during a lecture hosted by Tufts' Queer Straight Alliance.
Wavey's primary YouTube profile has received close to 60 million total views since its creation in 2006 and has nearly 130,000 subscribers. His Internet presence spans four channels and boasts approximately 400 videos.
His videos address topics that he describes as controversial and are, in his words, "pretty gay."
"He's really an icon for a lot of people in the gay community," event organizer George Murphy, a sophomore, said as he introduced Wavey. "He's been instrumental in helping LGBT people with developing and coming to terms with their identities."
The presentation was interspersed with screenings of Wavey's YouTube videos, which cover issues such as coming out, self−acceptance, love, dating and fitness. Most of the videos also feature him shirtless.
"I'm surprised you guys recognized me!" he said, "[The shirtlessness] has become a trademark."
He explained his rise to Internet fame several years ago as an accidental occurrence.
"I'd love to say that helping people has been my plan all along, but that's not really how it happened," he said.
After posting a video online and witnessing it attract thousands of viewers, he realized the vast communicative power of the Internet.
"I realized that I had a great captive audience, so I had a great responsibility, so I started making videos about other topics," he said.
Wavey strives to employ a humorous tone in his videos, which nonetheless convey sincere messages.
"If you can tackle something that's complex and hard to talk about in a way that's humorous, people will watch it," he said.
Wavey hopes that his videos serve as tools to help other LGBT individuals. He recorded and posted online part of his own coming−out experience in a highly personal and emotional video of him telling his grandmother about his sexuality over the phone.
"My own coming out experience probably would have been a lot easier if I had something like my own YouTube videos, or the It Gets Better project," he said. "For gay people to see and hear the coming out experiences of other people can be a really powerful experience."
Wavey's videos are designed to reach members as well as non−members of the LGBT community. He feels it is crucial for straight individuals to view his videos in order to gain a greater understanding of certain issues that face members of the LGBT community.
"For [straight people], seeing the emotion and seeing how raw and emotional that [coming out] is, it's really eye opening for them," he said.
Wavey charged attendees with the responsibility of using their online social media presence to promote positive change.
"I think that all of us can use social media to improve the lives of LGBT people, and all people," he said. "It's very powerful. You all have audiences on Facebook or Twitter; use them for good. It doesn't matter if you have a huge platform or a small platform."
"It's important to use these incredible tools to build up the world rather than tear it down. I invite you to take part in that process," Wavey said.