Post submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern

In an exclusive interview with HRC, Raymond Braun, social marketing manager for YouTube, discussed the social media platform’s Proud To Play and Proud To Love initiatives and its active engagement with the LGBT community.

Last year, YouTube launched its #ProudToLove video to celebrate LGBT Pride Month and the Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage. This year, YouTube has followed up its LGBT-inclusive campaign with its #ProudToPlay video, which celebrates LGBT athletes in light of the Sochi Olympics and the World Cup. In the video, YouTube creators, LGBT athletes, and sports stars celebrate the changing atmosphere of LGBT inclusivity in sports and encourage athletes to be open and proud of their sexual or gender identities.

Both videos went viral, with #ProudToLove gathering almost three million hits and #ProudToPlay getting over four million hits. According to Braun, the latest video saw an overwhelmingly positive response:

We saw many comments that the #ProudToPlay campaign inspired people to come out or helped give LGBT people a catalyst to have a conversation with family members, teammates, and colleagues about their sexual orientation.

I think one of the most powerful effects of being able to connect with others through YouTube is that it provides hope, inspiration, and a sort of lifeline to LGBT people, particularly youth, who feel isolated. For LGBT people who live in communities where there aren’t many out role models, YouTube can provide a safe haven for them to connect and watch content made by and for LGBT people. It’s a great place to provide hope and a positive vision of the future.

As a platform, YouTube gives people the ability to create an inclusive environment for people to form communities and advocate for issues important to them, Braun said. This is especially true for LGBT people and youth on YouTube.

“YouTube is a place where LGBT people and their families, friends and supporters can create awesome entertainment, share stories, build community, and change the world,” he said. “Many teens find the courage to come out through YouTube, and YouTube offers comfort and a safe space for questioning youth living in isolated areas without visible LGBT role models to find community and create a positive vision for what their future might look like.”

YouTube plans to continue celebrating the LGBT community and highlighting the accomplishments and major moments in the LGBT rights movement. Watch the videos below.

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