Shane Dawson, the YouTube star with over 6.7 million followers famous for parodies of stars like Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, came out to his fans as bisexual in an emotional YouTube video posted Tuesday to his channel. The video went viral, generating more than 1.7 million views by Wednesday morning.
In the more than 14-minute monologue, Dawson said he wished he could just be "100% gay" and it would be easier for him to be accepted, given his often flamboyant YouTube persona, but then confessed it would have been a lie to both himself and his fans. Dawson, who grew up in a religious family, said while he always had crushes on girls as a child, he was also secretly attracted to boys as well. His family, however, was not accepting.
"I just shut it down," he said in the video.
As a result of his sexual confusion, Dawson spent much of his adolescence "morbidly obese," reaching nearly 400 pounds by the age of 18. "I created a shell around me," he said. Dawson dated two girls in his 20s, most recently fellow YouTube star Lisa Schwartz. Eventually he began to feel confused. "The whole time I had feelings that I wasn't dealing with," Dawson said.
Citing Caitlyn Jenner, Dawson said he didn't want to wait until he was 65 to live as his true self and that for himself, and his fans, the time was always now.
Amid the ringing triumphs for LGBT equality recently, Dawson's video highlights the continuing struggles faced by members of community. While YouTube is overflowing with similar videos of gay men facing their fears, meekly or triumphantly coming out of the closet, Dawson's speech was one of the few high-profile accounts to tackle the issue of bisexuality. While gay men and lesbians often cheer to anthems such as Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," bisexuals often face hostile critics and scientific skepticism over whether they even exist.
At times, the greatest difficulty can even come from within the LGBT umbrella among disbelieving gays and lesbians. Many gay men, who first began exploring their sexuality as "bisexual," classify the category as a transitionary phase. It was something Dawson passionately claimed was not the case. "I have had sex with girls and I've loved it," he said, adding that losing his virginity to a girl didn't feel fake.