why is youtube restricting content by queer creators?

YouTube has apologized for blocking some videos in its restricted mode, but many LGBTQ creators and fans rely on the platform for income and valuable information.

by Hannah Ongley
Mar 20 2017, 5:45pm

The appeal of YouTube to the LGBTQ community is pretty obvious. For creators, it allows them to bypass anti-gay gatekeepers that exist on traditional platforms. For viewers, it's a source of information and support they might otherwise be unable to find. But some LGBTQ creators are calling out the website for blocking queer videos. #YouTubeIsOverParty began trending on Twitter over the weekend after a number of high-profile YouTubers reported having their videos filtered out when searching in the platform's "restricted mode."

The issue started to gain widespread attention online after Canadian pop duo Tegan & Sara informed their 596K Twitter followers that the restricted mode was causing a bunch of their music videos to disappear. "LGBTQ people shouldn't be restricted," they wrote. "SAD!" In a string of follow-up tweets, the twins appeared baffled that their "super sexual video about fruits and vegetables" ("Stop Desire") was still accessible yet "U-Turn" was filtered despite having "nothing gay in it except us." Tyler Oakley, one of YouTube's most popular creators with over 8M followers, also took to Twitter to call out the platform after it blocked his video "8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me."

YouTube eventually responded to the outrage via its @YTCreators Twitter account. "We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform — they're a key part of what YouTube is all about," read the statement. "The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns." However, YouTube's key LGBTQ voices were mostly unimpressed by the non-apology. "It's not an apology if you don't do anything to fix what you did," tweeted trans YouTuber Stef Sanjati. "They've not said they're going to revise their system. Not enough."

Many LGBTQ+ creators are also criticizing the #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag for failing to recognize that making videos is some people's full-time job. But the most devastating problem is portraying everyday LGBTQ life as a "sensitive issue." As Twitter user @corpuscav pointed out, a 53-minute sermon denouncing schools that protect trans kids is not filtered. Replying to a Tweet about YouTube as a resource for confused LGBTQ kids, Stef wrote, "I was that kid at one point, and if restricted mode was on and I didn't know about it, I would have had NO resources on YouTube." Hopefully the site gets its act together, because blocking music videos and makeup tutorials isn't just ridiculous and offensive, it's pretty dangerous too.


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Twitter