Today, in preparation for the release of their upcoming 40 Under 40 list, The Advocate revealed that YouTube vlogging couples, Will Shepherd and RJ Aguiar and Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers are part of the issue’s featured honorees. This made me whoop inside because I’m a subscriber to Will and RJ’s channel, shep689, and I think that they’re an amazing couple. However, on a more important level, I was pleased because the work that these YouTubers do is often a lot more consequential than people give credit, especially in terms of portraying a normal, positive image of what the majority of gay people are like. The fact that The Advocate has chosen to feature them in their 40 Under 40 list gives recognition to them on the same platform that bigger name LGBT celebrities will undoubtedly be placed.
I’ve chosen specifically to post about this today because it’s quite coincidental that this should be published today, when only yesterday I came across a video which sort of irritated me slightly. Three days ago, a video emerged advertising a series known as “Stud-lebrity”. According to them, a studlebrity is “a guys who is famous for his looks”. The series focuses on young men who have a steady following, particularly on social media, allegedly due to their good looks. I admit that I drew a blank at most of the names featured, but among these “studlebrities” (I really can’t with this word) was another one of my favourite YouTube vlogging couples, Mark & Ethan. Unless the actual documentary, or series or whatever it is, is released, I don’t know exactly what it is about, and it just might be quite profound. But from the trailer, it makes the guys seem infuriatingly vapid, by focusing solely on their looks and bodies. Again, I don’t know the other guys so I don’t know if this really is what they’re like in real life, but I personally took offense to the insinuation that Mark & Ethan are only followed because they’re handsome. The videos that these guys put out are incredibly entertaining, and the image that they portray of young gay guys is nothing short of admirable.
There is no doubt that there are some gay guys who do glorify some celebrities because of their looks. I actually spoke quite candidly about that recently. However, to suggest that Mark & Ethan have their following because they’re eye candy is, I think, quite insulting, and it still baffles me as to why the two of them would have even signed up for this. This is why I’m hoping that the actual show is more in-depth than the trailer portrays. This post took a more negative turn that I’d initially intended, so it’s time to bring it back up! Anyway, in keeping with this theme, I thought it would be a nice idea to showcase my top 5 gay YouTube couples!
Matthew Lush and Nicholas Laws are perhaps the most in-your-face couple of the list when it comes to issues like sex and body image. Matthew, a YouTube veteran, I originally knew as GayGod, the name of his first channel. However, together with his boyfriend Nick, he releases videos on the channel Lush, aimed mostly at younger gay guys, and explores the joys (emotional and physical) of young gay love.
I’m relatively new to this channel, and I actually really learned about them through Trent and Luke, another couple on this list. V-Squared, also referred to as “V2”, comprises of Vincent ‘Vinny’ Vaillancourt and Luke Burton. What I find most amazing about this couple is the story leading up to their channel. Vinny is American, while Luke is British and the two had been involved in a 7-year-long long distance relationship before Vinny relocated to the United Kingdom, where the two officially wed in 2013. I mean, holy hell! Not only were they in a relationship for 7 years… but a long-distance one at that! After making this work, how on earth can someone have the nerve to be against a couple like this being legally married?
Trent Owers and Luke Shayler are all kinds of adorable, and I love them! Also married, the couple resides in England, from where Luke is, though Trent is originally Australian. Their videos are super cute, and often feature their adorable Yorkie/Dachshund cross-breed, Benji. They’re also both professionally part of the entertainment industry (actor and model) and have been featured on book covers and magazines, including one of the Gay Times’ naked issues. Though often fun and stylised, Trent and Luke’s videos showcase what it’s like for a young married couple of any gender or orientation, living together despite their differences.
It was a little tricky for me to decide on the positions of TrentandLuke and shep689, but I thought that the latter deserved the number 2 spot more, if for no other reason than I’ve been subscribed to them for quite a bit longer. Shep689… oh the awesomeness! Comprised of Will Shepherd and RJ Aguiar, shep689 is the absolute grittiest and most authentic of all the channels on this list. Their videos are shot and edited in the true vlogging style, and that is what makes them so compelling to watch. Their viewers are able to go through their daily routines with them so closely, that it often feels as if we personally know them… and their pooch, Dobby (Will is a huge Harry Potter fan – can you tell?) Their videos begin recording almost immediately from the moment they wake up, and take us all the way throughout the day, to the moment they go to bed. Now engaged, Will and RJ are pioneers in the vlogging community. Having been doing this for five years, Will and RJ have done an exceptional job in portraying the everyday ordinary (and sometimes mundane) life of an average gay couple. Due to the almost invasive nature of their videos, they’re also unwittingly able to explore more complex issues. For example, the fact that RJ identifies as bisexual showcases an aspect of the LGBT community that isn’t often discussed: the very real possibility of the monogamous commitment between a homosexual and bisexual. Also, Will recently opened up to his viewers about the struggles of alcoholism in his family and his realisation that he might be heading down that path, leading him to stop drinking completely. Yeah, as much as some people may like to portray gays as die-hard partying, never-ending drinking, clubbing circuit boys, we deal with the same shit, responsibilities and life decisions as everyone else.
I found out about Mark Miller and Ethan Hethcote about one year ago today, when their “Awkward Kissing” video went viral. Since then, I’ve been a very loyal and happy subscriber. Though they each have their own separate channels, they both feature each other heavily in their respective videos. Although quite young – perhaps the youngest couple on the list – their relationship is so impressive that it’s become quite common to see commenters pine for a relationship just like that. Of course, I’m more than aware that it may not be that way behind closed doors (God forbid), but the videos nevertheless serve to portray a relationship between two young gay guys as stable and amazingly loving. Like their “Awkward Kissing” video, their videos were initially quite planned, fun and quirky. However, now that they’ve recently moved in together for the first time, their videos have begun to take on a more shep689-esque feel. They don’t post every day like Will and RJ, but the videos they now put out have a more personal feel to it, as they allow their viewers a more inside look at their relationship and their life together.
Every one of the couples listed above does an amazing part, not only in giving off a great image of same-sex couples to the world in general, but also in portraying loving and affectionate couplings specifically to the LGBT community. This is vitally important to gay youth who have no other way of realising what their life could be like, instead of the hateful rhetoric that they’re fed on a daily basis. It also takes an insane amount of bravery to put out there for the world to see, not only your life, but your love. And for that, I appreciate every single one of them.