People hate the term “influencer” – and I totally get it. No one wants to feel like they’re being swayed by something other than their own opinions. Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They regularly create content about a niche interest and continuously posts about that topic online. The job of the influencer isn’t to sell you garbage you don’t want. It’s to create content and curate entertaining media that sometimes features experiences, products, and services. With consistency and high-quality content comes a large following of engaged people who pay close attention to their views. This distinction is doubly important when we’re talking about influencers from marginalized groups.
In the LGBTQ community, we’re early adopters of the internet for a wide variety of reasons but one of the big ones is because our community is smaller and it’s harder to find information and entertainment that is representative of us and our needs. Don’t just take my word for it, the researcher’s at GLSEN discovered that “Despite experiences of bullying and harassment online, LGBTQ youth indicated the Internet is also a space that offers safer opportunities to express who they are, find peer support and gain access to resources not necessarily available in person.”
Those needs don’t stop when LGBT young people grow up. But LGBT youth were more likely to have searched for health and medical information compared to non-LGBT youth and are also more likely to seek out friendships online. More than half of LGBT young people report having one or more close friends they met online that they’ve never met in person – that’s compared to only 19% of non-LGBT young people so we know it’s not just a generational trend.
Influencers play an important role in our community because they’re creating, curating, distributing information that not only upholds our community but builds our culture. Sometimes for the good and sometimes…remember what happened with Milo Yiannopoulos?
But for better or worse, content creators have become part of our everyday lives. We can’t turn on any form of entertainment these days without seeing someone who got their big break online. We’re talking major mainstream celebrities, artists who went on to be creators or even creative directors for big brands, and folks who’ve created their own product lines, albums, shows and other forms of entertainment.
While putting together this article, we reached out to 100 queer influencers making an impact in their communities. While we messaged all 100 of these individuals to give them an opportunity to be quoted in this piece, only about half of them responded. No shade y’all – we know your busy but that’s why some folks got to answer questions for themselves and others did not. Lucky for us, many of these influencers opened up about different aspects of their lives, projects they are working on and so much more. We also asked each influencer for one piece of advice they would give to someone who is struggling with their identity and we got some pretty amazing responses.
Influencers fill a whole in the market caused by a lack of diverse representation. Queer influencers aren’t just changing the game for the internet – they’re changing our community.
Maya Noir describes themself as a bigender model and advocate, with a kind soul and a little punk. They have been creating content for her followers for about 3.5 years on what it’s like to be a genderfluid human and offering others advice. Maya loves Instagram and wants everyone there to know they are not alone! They love being an influencer because they get to meet so many amazing people, however their not a fan of the social platforms as some times they can be frustrating and limiting on certain aspects of creativity.
Advice to someone struggling: “There are no wrong answers, it’s all a process. Everyone is still figuring it out.”
What’s next for Maya? They’re currently busy creating more videos. They left us with a “Just you wait” so the suspense is killing us!
Dr. Shanté Cofield
The physical therapist turned entrepreneur, Dr. Shanté Cofield, aka The Movement Maestro, is the founder of The Movement Maestro LLC, a social-media based company that provides both online and in-person education for movement professionals around the world. Shes has been posting on Instagram for 5 years, it’s her favorite social media outlet.
She wishes to lead by example and show folks that people who look like them, can do things like this. It can be hard to imagine yourself doing something when you’ve never seen anyone who looks like you doing that thing.
Hands-down the best part of being an influencer is that she gets to show so many people just what’s possible. She gets to inspire people, She gets to motivate people, She gets to help people…and all on a larger scale than she ever imagined. The biggest downside that shes experienced is that people will wait years before ever reaching out because they assume you’re too busy or that you won’t write back. Shante says. “I’m here to be real and to connect with people, so those missed and/or super delayed connections bum me out.”
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “Give yourself grace. Give yourself time. Practice brave and show up in whatever way feels best for you. When you show up authentically you permit those around you to do the same.”
Anything upcoming you can share? “2020 gonna be lit! I’m working on a few things, but the biggest venture will be the launch of my digital membership that’s going to allow me to fully share my brain and have all my people in one place. To say I’m stoked would be an understatement. The Maestro Mafia is coming!”
Ylenia is a simple Italian girl. She loves to travel, music and CrossFit. She has been creating content for about 5 years and would like to become a photo model. She is currently heading to the Los Angeles area to shoot a movie.
Advice to someone struggling: “Always be himself and not to lower himself to prejudices, to fear and to nothing … because if people want to see you happy they accept every part of you and every choice you decide to make…you have to be free to be what you want.”
Follow Ylenia: Instagram
Nathan Aguilera is a food and travel writer who has been solo traveling the world for nearly six years now. In that time he’s visited more than sixty countries across five continents. He has been creating content on what to eat and where for destinations around the world for over 4 years. Although the smallest of his following on social media Nathan loves to engage with his group on Facebook. The best part of being an influencer, Nathan says, is connecting and interacting with people you may have never otherwise had any kind of encounter or exchange with. “When I arrive in a new destination I have followers that will share with me their favorite restaurants or things to see and do. These are the types of things that you would never find in a guidebook”. With all the positive there have to be things that are not grand about being an influencer. Nathan stated with us that the worst part is finding the balance of being transparent with his followers but not so transparent he loses all his personal life.
Advice to someone struggling: “Find a community of like-minded people. Even if you feel like you don’t fit in with the crowd or the majority, that’s ok. They’re not your people and that’s fine. Find your people. They’re out there, I promise.”
Goals or upcoming happenings for Nathan? Currently residing in Mexico he plans to scour the land there and is very excited about a trip to Guatemala. He plans to add recipes to his blog during 2020!
Gabi & Shanna
Gabi and Shanna are a lesbian travel couple based in Brooklyn, NY. They started 27 Travels in 2016 and since Gabi is a photographer and Shanna is a videographer, they decided to combine their passions with their love of travel to share their content with the world. Over time we started to realize how little information is out there for LGBTQ travelers and same-sex couples and we wanted to help change that. They have been creating content for over 3 years now.
They would like to be representation for others out there who may be afraid to travel because they are a member of the LGBTQ community. Representation was so important for both of them when coming out and they would love to help even just one person feel better about traveling. The best part of being an influencer for them is the vast variety of people they meet and friends they make, however, they are always working it seems to put out new content.
Advice to someone struggling: “Be yourself. Both of us struggled and tried to be different people to hide who we were and we just weren’t happy. Once we came out we were so much happier with ourselves and with our lives, no matter how long it took other people to come around to it. We felt better being ourselves and that’s what matters!”
Currently, they are filming a new video series on their YouTube channel called “Slice of NYC” where they are aiming to visit every neighborhood of NYC and telling their local tips!
Devin-Norelle is a professional model, advocate, public speaker, media figure, and opinion writer, with published work in Teen Vogue, Allure, them, and Out magazine, among others. Ze recently walked in New York Fashion Week shows for Chromat and dapperQ and was later awarded the Callen Lorde Transcendence Award for ze’s advocacy and uplifting of the trans community.
Advice for someone struggling: “How can I help you find affordable or free therapy?”
Upcoming for Devin-Norelle is walking a few New York Fashion Week Shows, and some modeling campaigns on the way.
A New York-born and raised girl, who recently made the move out to Los Angeles, Danie has been creating content for over 8 years now. She is focused on showing less of a “highlight reel” and more of a look into her everyday life, all the while showcasing the LGBTQ+ community/topics. She also tries to encourage authenticity & positivity, which is where her, “Good Wolf” mantra stems from.
Being an influencer has allowed her the ability to connect with thousands of people & have an open dialogue over “hot button” topics. She loves meeting people from all over the world in person, hugging it out, and being able to put a real live face to a username. It isn’t all rainbows however as Danie says that she often finds many influencers, including herself, feels the need to walk on eggshells because people will demonize you based on a photo/caption.
Advice to someone struggling: “Surround yourself with positive people who genuinely uplift your spirits, and inherently make you a better person. Your family may not always be blood, and friends can play just as important of a role. Also, time. This moment is merely temporary, and will not last forever.”
We look forward to more from Danie as she is looking to engage in more shoots, perhaps some video content, and potentially work with some future events!
Heather is the wife to Kelsey, vegan, lover of travel, fashion, animals, coffee, and mocktails! The best part of being an influencer for her is having the opportunity to work with dream brands and share brands that align with her values as a vegan and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Heather has been creating content for about 5 years now and is just getting started!
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “Life is too short to waste time being a version of yourself that makes others more comfortable while you are less comfortable.”
Currently Heather and Kelsey are in the process of launching a business with two best friends. This will be new products and a new journey as business owners and full-time entrepreneurs! We can not wait to see all the details for this!
Josh Rimer is a YouTube personality who was Mr. Gay Canada 2019 and a long-time producer/host of interstitial segments on the Canadian LGBTQ TV station OUTtv. Although his focus over the past couple of years has been on gay-friendly travel destinations, his most popular videos range in content from interviews to comedic segments.
Since 2007 josh has been creating content for the LGBTQ Community. His goal is to inspire people to openly and proudly be themselves. Believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Being an influencer Josh says its a blessing to be able to reach many people and have your voice heard, however at the same time it can become difficult to avoid comparing oneself to others and focusing on likes/views, etc.
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “There is no one that you have to answer to except for yourself. You don’t need to live up to anyone’s expectation of who you should be, how you should act, or what you should do. Just be true to who you are and embrace every part of yourself because you only need to be you!”
We agree, Josh!
Although he is not quite sure what the next year hold for him he is sensing its time for a shift. He is ready to try something new and exciting. Stay tuned to see what is in store.
Lindsay is a gender non-conforming queer whose passion lies at the intersection of travel and androgynous style. A strong believer that food is a love language and to fully understand a new culture you have to taste it. Lindsay can be best described as an adventure-seeking introvert with absolutely no sense of direction.
According to Lindsay travel is possible for gender non-conforming people and they want everyone to know this. They also want to continue to inspire queer people to experience the world outside of their comfort zone. Lindsay loves to connect with people and share experiences but struggles to find a work/life balance. Being an influencer isn’t always easy.
Advice for someone who may be struggling: “There is no timeline that matters other than your own. Take your time, change your mind or opinion a million times if you need to. At the end of the day, there is no greater gift than living as your most authentic self.”
Coming up for Lindsay in the future are seasonal packing tip videos and we can not wait to see these.
Jenna is a queer Scottish gal with a passion for travel and LGBT+ activism. By day she works at Skyscanner in inclusion & diversity. By night she’s a blogger, explorer, and Photographer. She has been creating content for about 3 years around the travel and queer issues niche.
She wishes to inspire more people to travel and see the world while sharing frugal travel ideas or travel without leaving your home country. Anyone who follows her, she hopes will take the leap and travel somewhere new.
Advice for someone who may be struggling: “Take your time. This is your journey and your story. No one else’s. There’s no pressure or requirement to put yourself in a box. You don’t have to figure out anything right now. Just try some labels and identities on and see what feels comfy. Then allow that to change over time if you want it to too.”
Coming in 2020 she plans to expand the LGBTQ+ section of her blog. It’s very travel focussed, and queer issues are a passion for Jenna.
Experientialist (Editor)-in-Chief of the world’s leading luxury and experiential publication for gay men of distinction, OutThere, Uwern has been an influencer for over 10 years now! Specializing in Luxury Travel, Uwern says his favorite platform to work on is the old school print style. If he had to choose an online platform he would go with his website or Instagram.
Uwern inspires to impact the LGBTQ community in a big way. Firstly, to inspire people to dream big and that anything is possible. Also to embolden and empower LGBTQ folk to be ever visible and show up for their rights, by traveling the world, broadening their horizons and winning the hearts and minds of the people they visit.
Being an influencer has its pros and cons. What are these for Uwern? Pros: Getting to travel to the world as a job and experience some truly amazing things; inspire his community. Cons: People thinking that what he does is easy work and that he’s constantly on holiday.
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “If everybody was the same, we’d get tired of being around each other. Your individuality is what makes this world a rich and fabulous place to be in, so take pride and passion in being who you are, the best version of you that you can be and be a role model for others. There will be amazing days, there will be down days, but try to make every day amazing. And reach out to other members of the community. As LGBTQ people, we’re unique beings as we have a global family people who are all walking similar paths, it’s an excellent support network”
So what is next for him? A lot, however, its secret until revealed on his socials. Next year OutThere celebrates 10 years of experiential journeys – a big milestone for the magazine – so watch this space as there are plenty of exciting and inspiring projects in the pipeline!
Matthew Schueller & Michael Lindsay
Matthew and Michael have quite a love story. They met through their coming out videos on YouTube, fell in love and got married! Now they are traveling the world together to find the best in LGBTQ+ travel, everywhere. They want to continue to normalize and spread equality by actively traveling the world and engaging with communities to help make them more LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Since being an influencer they have stuck to Instagram as their favorite platform. Providing content for 13 years now, they say the best part is meeting incredible and wonderful people, it’s the least expected and most wonderful and surprising thing! The worst part is always being on the job, it’s as if there is never a day off!
Advice for someone who may be struggling: “Talk about it with a friend. This is the one thing that kept us both digging and searching inside of ourselves to figure out who we are at our core. It can be so difficult to talk about incredibly personal things like this, but for us, it was the most liberating and helpful thing we could do when we were questioning.”
So what’s coming next for these two? Next year they are excited to be traveling to several countries for projects in Scotland, Italy, and Greece! Matthew is also working with Men’s Vows as their director of editorial which has been very exciting to see progress!
Meet Owin Pierson. A 27 years old lifestyle content creator based in Los Angeles. He is a gay Asian-American with an undergraduate background in Psychology and Education. While constantly seeking ways to bring more positivity and change in the mental health and LGBTQ+ spaces he has been creating content for about 5 years total, 2 years of which has been full time.
He would love to create a change of culture in the LGBTQ space where everyone feels its an inclusive space. He always felt he was different growing up whether it was because of sexuality or ethnicity. Truly he doesn’t want the younger generations to think that they have to look or act a certain way to be valued in society. Most importantly he’s all about self-love and choosing yourself first. As an influencer in this space, it’s easy to get lost in the comparison game and put a value on likes but overall he just wants to be a part of the LGBTQ community that takes action steps into all this instead of just talking about it.
Advice for someone who may be struggling: “Something I try and emphasize is the beauty in being able to share your own story. I’m so cheesy but I always tell people that when I take the “i” out of my name I become my Own Person (Owin Pierson.) Haha, I know so cringe but also so true! I believe if you are struggling with your identity know that first off, you are never alone. The mind has a way of tricking us and manipulating our thoughts and behaviors that easily can take over if we are communicating healthily with people who care about us. However, if there isn’t anyone in your life right now that you feel you can talk to, there are so many organizations that do care. The Trevor Project is a great asset I feel, and helped save my life back in high school when I was in a dark place.”
Owin has quite a few things going on currently. He’s working on a sustainability fellowship with modeDurable, a nonprofit sustainability organization, where he’s creating something to help with the fast fashion and overall environmental issues we are facing. He is also working on a book focused on his life, transitioning from a heavily religious church background, his coming out story and the ins and outs of being an influencer! He’s got a few big potential travels coming up again with the LA Times and couple other organizations that he can’t wait to venture into.
Gay Travel Guru, Ravi Round The World has trekked the globe. Having been to 31 countries fearlessly capturing the local queer perspective. Ravi discovers where to STAY, PLAY, EAT, what to SEE, where to WERK IT OUT, QUEER HISTORY, and gets #JustTheTip(s) from the locals. His main goal as an influencer for the LGBTQ community is that he wants to help eradicate body shaming, homophobia, transphobia, and give a voice to locals around the globe. He aims to be the next gay Anthony Bourdain (RIP) with a splash of Samantha Brown.
What does he love about being an influencer? The trips, free products, and sharing what he does with the world. On the flip side, the cons are not big enough numbers or compare and despair. We have to remember we are ALL on our journey and to stay in our lane and support each other.
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “Live out loud- whatever that means to you. Sometimes a chosen family can be more supportive than our given families. Reach out to others for support and remember you are never alone.”
Anything in the works with Ravi? He left us in suspense when we asked this question. Stating “There may be something super juicy coming in the new year…stay tuned.”
B. Hawk Snipes
B. Hawk Snipes is an Entertainer, Style Icon, Model & Social Activist. Born in NYC and raised in The Bronx. B is currently working on more creative projects to diversify and inspire the world with their talents in tv, fashion & music. B would love to leave an impact that stands for FREEDOM. B also wants to see a future where the letters “LGBTQ” don’t divide us as HUMANS.
The best part about being an influencer is using the platform to tell your story and inspire others to learn from your experience and move forward positively. The worst part is having people look up to you for all the wrong reasons.
Advice to someone who may be struggling: “Talk to someone, be patient and try to stay positive. Life is full of rollercoasters but you are in control of it. I’ve been through so many dark moments in my life but I continue to push forward.”
Great things are on the way for B, so stay tuned.
Barry is an avid traveler and his content showcases vacation destinations, unique experiences, and culinary adventures. His commitment to capturing small but meaningful moments in his travel gives his followers an insight into unforgettable adventures and memories. Barry’s journey has been one of self-discovery and his experiences traveling the world inspire others to travel more, experience and love more.
He wishes to promote diversity and inclusion outside and within our community. During his 3 years of being an influencer, he says that the best part is being able to meet and connect with people from all around the world. Although along with the good comes the bad and the worst part, is people thinking he’s trying to show off.
Advice for someone struggling: “I would say take some time to discover who you are and be true to yourself as it doesn’t matter what others think. You are the only person who can create your happiness. Also, surround yourself with good people who care about you.”
What’s next for Barry? He’s going to be working to promote Gayborhood as their travel campaign manager. Gayborhood Agency is the first and only agency dedicated to bringing together LGBTQ+ influencers and brands to create content for and with the LGBTQ+ community.
Danni is a coach and mentor. She enjoys the sun, sea, sunsets & adventure. She’s been creating content for 8 years now and wishes to be a positive role model for young people to encourage them to become whoever they want to be. Also, she wants to help people take a risk and change their environment to live life as one big adventure.
Advice for someone struggling: “Be yourself, no matter what anybody says. Keep your head up and stand proud.”
Currently building an international business with a large percentage of those involved being from the LGBTQ community, she says if anyone is interested in a new opportunity don’t hesitate to contact her on any social media channel.
The classically trained dancer turned neo-burlesque babe! Based in LA, Scarlett dances her way across the US, spreading love & glitter with her LGBTQ womxn troupe – Honey Burlesque. She has been on social media for 5 years now and would love to build more safe spaces, especially within the LGBTQ womxn community!
The best and worst part of being an influencer on social media, according to Scarlett, is that the microscope of the internet can be both magical and brutal.
Advice for someone struggling: “Retraining your brain to accept yourself when the world has told you otherwise is HARD, babe – and comes with some falls. But when you get to that sweet spot of loving all parts of YOU, it’s the most incredible feeling.”
Currently, happening for Scarlett? Honey Burlesque is going strong at their monthly LGBTQ Womxn NYC party – Hot Honey – and they are set to expand to LA in the new year!
Just your average 20-something Kiwi guy who decided the 9-5 lifestyle just wasn’t for him, booked a one-way ticket and never looked back. He is addicted to exploring the remote or underestimated, getting lost while pretending he knows what he’s doing and seeking out cute animals, brunch spots and the best of queer culture and nightlife wherever he goes. He has been creating content for 5 years now and wants to encourage, empower and facilitate connections between our global queer community by informing and inspiring LGBTQ travelers to explore further.
The best thing about being an influencer? He says its the ability to shine a light on worth-while causes and encourage/inspire travel in others that aligns with his values. The worst? Being forced to indulge his own narcissism and curating/photographing/manufacturing every moment of his life for social media consumption rather than simple enjoyment.
We can relate to this for sure!
Advice for someone struggling: “Everyone is on their own journey, and we all struggle with our identity in one way or another over time, even if it might not appear so. Take things at your own pace, lean on those in your life who are a positive influence and don’t be afraid to cut out those who are toxic or non-supportive. You’ll get there in the end.”
What’s the future hold for Jordan? Besides attending as many queer events and pride festivals around the world as I can in 2020, I would also like to get more involved in the LGBT scene in my hometown of Auckland and give back to the community in a more tangible way. Watch this space.
The Gay Globetrotter is run by Bailey Mills, with a strong focus on LGBTQ specific travel and issues surrounding LGBTQ travel paired with culinary travel, and recipes from around the world. He has been creating content for 2.5 years now and wants to teach the LGBTQ community about traveling while LGBTQ, and learning new culture through culinary history.
While being an influencer he says that the best part is helping weary travelers see the world in a fulfilling way. Having the platform to educate and inspire makes it worth it! Whereas the hardest part is behind the scenes work that you don’t see from most bloggers and influencers. It takes countless hours behind a laptop for the content you see every day.
Advice for someone struggling: “Listen to yourself. Don’t listen to what other people say you should be, don’t box yourself, and just live a life that makes you happy. Not friends, not family, not society. Find your authentic you, and have the courage to be that person.”
Bailey is currently launching a second blog, called Discover Dishes. It is geared towards food specifically. He also has quite a few travel plans in the mix for 2020 and will be working on a campaign coming up that will help give trans people a platform to speak on issues regarding trans rights around the world.
Amber Whittington is an activist, YouTuber, host, and actress who believes in changing the world by changing within. Her goal is to show up, show off, and inspire people to be the best version of themselves. Amber has a social reach of nearly one million; views totaling over 125million. Amber is one of the leading voices fighting for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. She is not afraid to use her platform to speak up about issues that affect society, especially minority communities.
She has been creating content for 7 years and wants to create an impact that can help others much into the future. Frustrations of an influencer include work that can be inconsistent financially and working with the brand’s demands can be tough, but the best part is meeting someone that your content has touched. That moment means everything!
Advice for someone struggling: “As long as you know who you are and have confidence in that; there’s nothing anyone can say to someone who loves themself completely.”
Want to know what she’s got in the works? She posts all of her upcoming projects and events on Instagram. She also has a ladies’ night every Thursday night at Rocco’s in West Hollywood.
Ronnie Rose Bloom
Ronnie enjoys creating fashion and self-love/self-expression content for tomboys and the LGBT community at large! They also enjoy collaborating with their partner Drea on many of my projects! Ronnie has been creating content for 5 years and prefers the Tik Tok platform over all others.
They’d like to instill the belief in as many people as they can that they are worth time, energy and effort – starting from within themselves TO themselves.
The best part of being an influencer is being able to create content and art and being able to participate in a community that has formed around what they love! The worst is that it has created dynamics on social media that feel dehumanizing. Whether it’s followers who are unkind or feel justified in crossing their personal boundaries – or people in their day to day life who don’t understand what they do or get uncomfortable about it.
Advice for someone struggling: “Remember: you can take this at your own pace. Don’t let anyone from ANY community, including our own, convince you that you need to decide right now – or even decide and be an unchanging static thing. You do NOT have to be a predictable controllable element in someone’s story. You are large. You can be many things. Those things can change at any time – and ALL of those things are beautiful.”
Upcoming happenings for Ronnie? They plan on taking their fashion videos to YouTube and not just to IGTV in 2020!
Alyssa is a seasoned emotions photographer, 6 years of content making and is determined to make a difference even if it doesn’t change the world. She wants to create the content she needed to see when she was struggling the most. She hopes to show people that the world isn’t always cruel. It can be a beautiful place, filled with loving people. There are people out there that will understand and accept you!
The best part of being an online influencer is connecting to people all around the world. They have been in different countries and been stopped by people that follow them on social media. Sometimes, these are people that are living in a country that it’s illegal to be gay. Even if they have helped just one person feel more comfortable in their own skin, they feel they have succeeded. The worst part is the hate. It’s hard to see so many people’s hearts hurting so much in their lives that they need to lash out.
Advice for someone struggling: “Don’t stress so much about figuring it all out. I’m married and know who I am but I promise, I am still figuring it all out. It can be hard not understanding where you fit in or who you are but the fact is, you are YOU! Whatever that looks like, it’s more than enough!”
What’s happening now with Alyssa? Her wife and herself are now traveling full time and have a lot of fun things to share this year! They want to take you all around the world and give you some insight into what living in other countries as part of the LGBT community looks/feels like. They will be working with some pretty amazing companies that are in full support!
Follow Alyssa: Instagram
Ziggy is a 25 year old Spoken Word Artist born in Chicago. People recognize her for two reasons; one being for the truth that she speaks in my poetry, and the other is for her hair that never lays flat. She’s a huge goofball and a Latte Art Champion Barista.
Ziggy has been creating content for 10 years! Wow! She wants the LGBTQ Community to always live and speak their truth, no matter the crowd, ethnicity, or age group. For her, the best part about being an influencer is that there’s always a guaranteed group of people listening and watching what she puts out. The worst is having to swallow the worst criticism people will put out about you as if they know you more than what you put out.
Advice for someone struggling: “Live your truth. Whatever you identify as, is ultimately your choice, because it feels best to your heart. Once your truth is out, don’t sugarcoat who you are for people with no facts, but opinions.”
Currently Ziggy is working on her first book that markets to people willing to hear about her journey as a poet, lesbian, ex-church goer, ex-lover, and vulnerable Libra.
Follow Ziggy: Instagram
Kaitlyn is a mom of 2 living in Louisville, KY. She is a master hairstylist working in Louisville and Manhattan and also the proud owner of Tomboy Hair Care. She has been creating content for 4 years and wants to share the message with others to always be unapologetically YOU. To be a vessel of POSITIVITY no matter what life throws your way!
During her time as an influencer, she says the best part is the relationships/friendships shes formed through social media! The worst is the negativity some people put out on your page— it’s hard not to take it personally sometimes!
Advice for someone struggling: “Take time for YOU. Focus on YOU. It takes time and mistakes to find your true self. It doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t lose hope!”
What is in the works for Kaitlyn? Some friends of hers and herself are currently working on a helicopter company collaboration!
If Joan Jett and Amy Lee had a love child, it would be Karli Buckley. Armed with an intrepid personality and poetic defiance of what is comfortable, it’s no wonder she found herself thriving with her wife and [dog] child in New York City.
She hopes to be a guiding light of altruism throughout the LGBTQ community and says that the best part of her ‘job’ is finding a company or brand that she connects with – beyond just the product or service. There are millions of really awesome products and services out there, but to find a mission that resonates with her- that’s the best part! To be completely transparent, she says the worst part is being told what to do or how to do her own content – when that happens, she quickly becomes jaded.
Advice for someone struggling: “Fortune favors the bold. This life is YOURS to live, and it would be a tragedy to conform to a heteronormative society in fear of rejection.”
Upcoming for Karli? Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, amirite? Stay tuned for a look behind Iz&Co
Mads is a queer, non-binary musician, writer, actor, model and overall artist who made their way by breaking gender binaries. As an advocate of authenticity, Mads’ main goal is to show the youth that it’s OK to be exactly who they are and that they are not alone. Look out for their break out album said to be released sometime in 2020.
They would like to help normalize the feeling of gender dysphoria, help free the nipple and all forms of body, and help the youth understand whatever internalized feeling they’re going through are OK and they are not alone. Mads was raised in a town where it was better to stay hush, to stay closeted, and to pretend everything is OK when it isn’t. They want to help everyone feel comfortable with whatever they’re going through.
The best part of being an influencer according to Mads is being able to connect with their community and help those going through what they had once gone through in any way they can. Mads’ elated when they get a message from someone saying they inspired them- it inspires Mads to do better. The worst part of it all is almost the same thing- with being so connected in my community Mads has a lot of eyes on them which means a lot of judgment. Mads would be lying if they said negative backlash and opinions of them don’t sting. Sometimes you can be improperly absorbed by people and you can’t singlehandedly explain your intentions to everyone. Mads is am constantly working on giving less of care of others’ opinions, but they are only human!
Advice for someone struggling: “You are not alone. Your feelings are valid. I am you and you are me and our pain & suffering will ultimately create a more vulnerable, open-minded and loving world. Take things one day at a time and be kind to yourself. Regardless of figuring out your identity one thing is for sure- you are YOU and that in itself is beautiful.”
Anything in the works for Mads? They will be shifting focus from modeling to music and acting. Their breakout album will be coming out sometime later this year and Mads is set to be in a few films they can’t yet speak about.
Pedro is a Brazilian LGBT influencer who has been content creating for about 5 years. He wants to entertain and help people to live better, in fact, this is what he considered the best part about being an influencer. The worst part? Being judged.
Advice for someone struggling: “Live your life by your own rules! There’s no other way to be happy in this life!”
He plans to continue doing youtube videos this next year.
Full-time hair colorist and Co-Owner of the queer safe space salon downtown LA. By night, a queer-focused entertainer, dancer, party host, and drag queen. Divinity Ray is am a trans/bigender model and VERY passionate about the motivational speaking/activism side of the fashion industry. They produce non-profit runway events geared towards mental health awareness and queer culture.
Divinity Ray has been creating for 10 years, but truly started ‘influencing’ about 3 years ago. They told us this story when we talked, “Someone told me a long time ago I shouldn’t define myself by ‘being gay’ but the LGBTQ+ community literally saved my life and I am proud to define myself by it. I spiraled out of control in my early 20’s, broke away from religion and mental illness and came out of the closet soon after hitting rock bottom. I do a lot of things for a living but ultimately my career is activism because I want my life to impact everyone, not just the queer community. I want to have the same impact inside and outside of my community: I want people to know it’s possible to find happiness after walking through hell and live unapologetically free of shame and guilt. Who you truly are is fucking beautiful.”
So what are the best and worst parts of being an influencer according to Divinity? The best “You have a platform to inspire thousands of people. You can promote rising artists, make connections with incredible people and positively use social media.” We agree with this! On the flip side, they said the worst part is when people forget you are also human and don’t know all the answers. Your journey is constantly exposed, which can feel uncomfortable at times.
Advice for someone struggling: “It’s hard to be yourself in a judgemental world. There will ALWAYS be someone who questions you or doesn’t understand you. Not allowing the negative energy to stop you from evolving, is key. It’s okay to feel hurt by people’s words, hate hurts, but don’t let it stop you. Keep. Going. If you feel like you need to explore your identity or transition in ANY way, do it. Your happiness is ALL that matters and you have way more support than you realize.”
What’s upcoming for Divinity Ray? They are planning to perform/gogo all the lesbian events this year (Dinah, BackLot, Girls in Wonderland, etc). Producing their annual runway show SCARS (a fashion show dedicated to suicide awareness) in LA and working with transgender kids/adolescents.
Lisa & Lauren Aadland-Halling
A Swedish-American married couple, living in the countryside of Sweden and the coast of Southern California. At This Colorful World, Lisa and Lauren offer courses, Youtube videos, music, and resources to help people add more color and diversity into their life, not only in how they live but in how they express themselves! Lisa and Lauren wish to inspire those who wish to explore themselves and the world around them but have not yet flourished into it. They also want to inspire members of the community to get “un-stuck” and find more permission to live as they desire – not as they are told.
They have been creating content for over 4 years and say that the best part is hands down, no competition, the amazing reward of seeing and hearing about the impact their content has on people’s lives!
“I mean, how cool and lovely is it that we can positively affect people around the world for the better? Wow!”, they said. It is a pretty powerful thing, social media, and used correctly could have a huge impact! Along with the good is always bad so what’s the worst about being an influencer? According to them the pressure to stay online to stay relevant consistently, when they want to spend time in real life, with themselves and each other. They take their offline time very seriously and have offline periods. Stating, “If we didn’t, we’d probably go a little crazy.” Haha! We get it, Lisa and Lauren, we get it!
Advice for someone struggling: “Don’t rush the process. It can take time to become comfortable with who you are. That is normal and 100 % ok.”
Anything new and exciting or upcoming we should know about from these two? Of Course! When asked here is what they had to say, “We have three big, super exciting projects for 2020! We just bought a 1600’s farm in the Swedish countryside by the Baltic Sea. We will share the renovations and works on the property on our Youtube channel! Secondly, we’re offering retreats on our property this summer (more info on www.thiscolorfulworld.com) with a focus on nature, connection, kindness, and fun activities in a rustic farmstead location. And lastly, but absolutely not least: We’re running our online course: PERMISSION for the duration of 2020! It’s a course designed to help members of our community to express themselves and live more authentically. A course where we help others to find permission to live as they desire, not as they’re told or what’s expected from them. A type of permission that has been essential in creating our life the exact way we want to live it, as well as permission to fully be ourselves. More information and enrollment on www.thiscolorfulworld.com
Couple of Men – Karl & Daan
Karl and Daan, a German-Dutch gay couple happily exploring gay-friendly destinations around the world. On coupleofmen.com, they are blogging about their life as two bearded (gay) men sharing their love story through pictures and videos, waving the rainbow flag on as many gay pride parades as possible and let their readers and followers be part of their journey as gay parents together with a lesbian couple. They are traveling the world together with a happy heart, proud and with an open mind.
They are aiming to open minds and hearts by showing their affection in public. Shouldn’t we all be able to just be who we are, live how we want, and love whom we want to without judgment?
Being able to share all their experiences together while exploring the world is the best thing about being an influencer according to Karl and Daan. However, they do miss having a proper vacation as well.
Advice for someone struggling: “Just do it. Just go for it. Looking back, you will see how easy it was in the end. Never forget: You only have one life. Enjoy every moment of it.”
Currently, they are working together with several destinations on setting up their first LGBT campaigns for tourism by creating marketing content for them including photo shootings and videos. Projects in Japan, the USA, Colombia, and around Europe are on our list for 2020. Exciting!
Roxanne Weijer & Maartje Hensen
Once Upon a Journey is an LGBT travel blog by Dutch lesbian couple Roxanne and Maartje. Over the past three years, they’ve been traveling all over the world. They don’t shy away from countries that aren’t LGBT friendly, but they also celebrate the places that are. Their travels inspire many people because it gives people hope – visibility matters!
They hope to create more visibility and provide hope to the LGBTQ community in countries with anti-LGBT legislation. They love meeting LGBTQ+ people around the world and to hear their stories. Even their liberal home country (the Netherlands) has issues, but they need to become aware of LGBTQ+ issues worldwide and talk about it.
The best part of being an influencer is a positive impact on people’s way of thinking. Being visible means that people can find them and relate to them. They have gotten many messages of queer girls who allowed themselves to dream about an out and proud life, after seeing them being out and proud around the world. Girl couples finally daring to take the step to book a vacation to their dream destination, because they helped them with figuring out how to be safe. The worst part is that there is still so much hate and negativity in the world, which they expose themselves to. They are lucky to have amazing and loving followers, but whenever photos of them are shared on non-LGBT accounts they get a lot of homophobic replies. But this ‘worst part’ is exactly the reason why they need to do more and become more visible.
Advice for someone struggling: “Surround yourself with supportive people. If you can’t find them in your direct environment, connect to likeminded people online (Facebook groups, Instagram, etc.). It’s also okay to give it time and you don’t need to label yourself! Knowing you’re “queer” is absolutely fine, don’t put too much pressure on the label.”
What’s in the works for these two? They’ll be basing themselves in Amsterdam again where they will launch their photography business! They love shooting LGBTQ+ people and couples, so if you’re looking for queer photographers in Europe, reach out! More information on Instagram @mrsvisuals
Bree Pear is a tech nerd entrepreneur with a passion for humans and a drive to make waves in this world. In 2016 she founded Only Human—a platform for good that brings humans together for a deeper purpose. Bree truly believes that by building a community of like-minded humans willing to make changes in this world, she can create a ripple effect that’s felt on a global scale. Her goal has always been to use her platform to help others feel seen, heard, and for everyone to know that they aren’t alone in what they are going through.
Bree believes we all have the power to turn our adversity into our advantage, and her dream is to empower others to do just that. Take the thing that hurt you the most in life and turn it into the fuel that creates positive change within yourself, your community, and even the world.
Now that Bree has a platform where she can talk about topics that matter, share stories of others, and connect humans of all kinds to causes and volunteering, she says this is the best about being an influencer. The worst is it’s made her feel less seen as a real person. It’s as if people assume they know who she is and what her life is like because of social media and therefore don’t ask about how she is or what she’s up to because they feel like they already know.
She has learned a lesson since becoming an influencer. “No one’s life could never be summed up in an Instagram story, so please never stop asking people about themselves or what they’re up to. Even if you may already know the answer because you scrolled back years on their profile and saw that one post from 2009. People are ever-evolving and “influencer” is a bullshit term. We’re all Only Human and should all use whatever influence we have to make the world a kinder place.”
Advice for someone struggling: “You’re not alone. The sooner you connect with others who have gone through (or are going through) similar things as you, the more you will feel you have a support system through your growth. For years I felt like I couldn’t be myself because people would never like that side of me, but all I was doing was attracting the wrong kind of people because I wasn’t being myself. When I owned who I am and let go of what they expected of me, I suddenly attracted all the right relationships and friendships into my life.”
She has SO many amazing projects this year! They are taking 40 humans to Costa Rica on a Give Back Trip in February, she’ll be hosting Camp OH in Arizona in May, and you can catch her at more than 20 Pride Festivals all over the US this year.
Teraj is an accomplished recording artist, model, TV personality, and social media influencer. With an international fanbase, he encourages his listeners through his uplifting music and inspiring lyrics, based on his own life experiences. As an influencer, he brings together brands and his love of people, places, and music to create powerful content. He wants to inspire others within our community to be their authentic selves and live in their truth. He’s found that being different, with the right mindset, is a superpower. As a community, we are finally beginning to harness those powers, doing away with the idea of being different as a setback, and we’re now increasingly being celebrated for our unique perspectives and stories. He hopes to have a part, whether large or small, in continuing to encourage the community to let each one unique and special light shine bright.
As an influencer, he is grateful to do and share what he loves. He feels very fortunate to have found, through social media, camaraderie and a greater sense of community. There are so many things that he would not have experienced or would have had greater difficulty achieving in life if he weren’t an influencer. So, he is forever grateful.
Advice for someone struggling: “Identity is something that we’re all continuously in search of, refining, or redefining. I found a greater sense of identity when I decided to be my authentic self and live in my truth. Being honest and in sync with who I am and sharing my life more openly allowed me to find a community of like-minded individuals that support one another. My advice to someone struggling with their identity would be to make a pact with yourself to be true to your inner voice and the person within and seek a community that celebrates you and pushes you to become your greater self. If you can’t find that community, be the trailblazer that starts it.”
Teraj is releasing at least 4 music videos over the next few months for songs from his album DEFY, so he is super excited about that. He also has a few songs that he’s working on for a deluxe version of the album so stay tuned for those.
The Travelling Gays – Doug & Sanj
The Travelling Gays are couple Doug & Sanj from London. They met ten years ago at Manchester Pride and got married last year in Crete surrounded by their friends and families. They share a passion for adventure and like to travel together as much as they can. They want to show a positive view of same-sex relationships. Sanj is half-Indian and so they try to present the world with a view of a mixed-race gay relationship as there is still so much racism in the LGBT community. They know many of their followers are from countries where it is illegal or unsafe for them to be out and they want to use our platform to highlight this.
Doug and Sanj absolutely love interacting with people from all over the world and hearing their stories.
Advice for someone struggling: “This is hard as it depends on what part of the world you are in – it’s so easy to say ‘just be yourself’ but in someplace that can be unsafe. We’d say just know that you are valid, valuable, beautiful and enough. Our individuality makes us who we are. If you feel safe and able to talk to someone you trust about it then that can be a really helpful way to start unpacking how you are feeling and get some moral support.”
The Travelling Gays have just launched a sock brand Socks of Soho – @socksofsoho – on Instagram. They designed some socks as the wedding favors for their wedding with rainbow airplanes on them and loved them so much we decided to launch them as a label. 25% of the profits from all sales will go to LGBT charities.
Alysse Dalessandro Santiago
Alysse Dalessandro Santiago is a plus size fashion and travel blogger, LGBTQ influencer, writer, designer, and professional speaker based in Cleveland, Ohio. Her brand, Ready to Stare, has become a haven for those whom society has otherwise ignored especially those in the LGBTQ, plus size fashion and body positive communities. Ready to Stare is a space where individual style is celebrated and breaking the rules is encouraged. She would like to encourage fellow fat queer folks that they don’t have to change anything about themselves to be happy, to find love and to travel the world!
The best part about being a blogger is meeting folks who have been able to face their fears or try something new because of her content. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing “I wore a bikini on the beach with my wife for the first time because of you.” The worst part of being an influencer is the lack of stability. It’s still a new industry and there have been some growing pains as brands learn the value of our work.
Advice for someone struggling: “It’s never too late to embrace who you are. I came out at 29. I struggled for a long time because I didn’t feel queer enough. I realized that the person judging me the most was me. Once I let go of that judgment and embraced my identity, I truly felt free.”
Alysse is currently working on a plus-size travel guide for Universal Studios discussing ride accessibility for larger-bodied folks, a queer travel guide to Puerto Rico and a documentary with her husband about living as an LGBTQ+ couple.
Let’s talk about sex, dating, gender, love…and hot girls of course. Think of Arielle’s channel as a women’s guide to sexuality and sexual orientation. Arielle wants to continue to change lives through her social media.
The best part of being a creator is that she gets to work with inspiring people of her choosing. The worst part is making mistakes and people not understanding what growth means.
Advice for someone struggling: “Release your ego and know your true self. What other people think of you is none of their business.”
Transgender Activist and new Dad, Aydian Dowling is the First Transgender Man to land the cover of Men’s Health Magazine. Using that visibility Aydian began PointofPride.org, a Transgender Non Profit serving those in need of life-saving surgeries and garments. Aydian continues his positive message of ‘I am Enough’ not only through his social media presence but also by traveling the country speaking, hosting, and helping navigate powerful changing conversation for the Transgender Community.
He would like to empower the community to have the confidence to go out and live their dreams because he knows that as someone who never thought it would be possible for him- it is possible.
The best part of being an influencer is being able to provoke people to think out-side-the-box, question who they are and why they make the choices they do. He’s found these thoughts lead to authenticity, empathy and ultimately push people to be the best version of themselves. The worse part is the inability to post, know, and have all the information on everything that goes on, and have some profound thing to say about it. Sometimes they miss things because they were taking a self-care break, or maybe something sad happens and they are just that- sad. He can’t always have the most motivational thing to say or a positive outlook because he is still a human, and that part can get forgotten by people.
Advice for someone struggling: “You’re not lost, you’re just searching. Too often we try to ‘find the right answer’ as quickly as we can and sometimes you don’t have the answer because you’re still searching, and that’s okay.”
Aydian is currently working on a few projects, one that involves your phone, one that involves your TV and one that involves your bookshelf. As far as his non-profit, which he can be a bit more open about right now- Point of Pride is working tirelessly on getting their current 15K+ Binder waiting list down. They will be sending out 2,500 binders out by the end of Feb 2020, and hope to have continued support from donations to get another 8-10K out by end of the 2020 year.
Hannah and Alia
Hannah and Alia are a lesbian couple living in Brooklyn, NY, with their dog, Sadie Mae. Travel, mental health awareness, and LGBTQ+ issues are their jam. While helping others find their voice, they create content on their page that just about everyone can relate to. Knowing that they’ve helped strangers come out is enough for them.
The worst part about being an influencer is that because they make their own schedule, it can be really difficult to “clock out.” Also, waiting for and managing payments. Sometimes they don’t get paid until months after a campaign ends.
The best part is getting to meet new people. Whether it’s meeting other content creators at events or becoming online friends with someone they may never have the chance to meet in person, they are constantly forming relationships with all sorts of different people. Getting to work in your pj’s, attend fun events, and work with big brands is pretty cool too.
Advice for someone struggling: “Keep going, and take comfort in the fact that confusion is a part of the process. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It does get better.”
Hannah’s YouTube channel recently launched, so that’s exciting. As far as what’s in store next, they have a few projects that are under wraps, for now, so you’ll just have to stay tuned!
Sanne & Michèle
Sanne & Michèle are a Lesbian couple trying to experience life to the fullest and focus on sustainable living. They have been producing LGBTQ travel & sustainability content for their followers since February 2016. They love meeting so many people during their travels as well as online. People give them tips and tricks and they work with brands to make a change. However, they also feel that due to the algorithm on social media their audience is quite small, although it could be so much bigger (follow them from the links below!). “It’s not hard to travel as an LGBTQ member & you can still be aware of the planet during adventuring”. We couldn’t agree more!
Advice to someone struggling: When Sanne struggled, she just started a conversation online with someone who seemed to know who they were. “I found similarities that helped me. Also stepping out of your comfort zone can help loads”. Great advice!
So what are they up to now? They are traveling! Promising to live more in the now and be less distracted by the online stuff, they left their laptops at home. Their focus is more on sustainability and the products that are involved in travel in a more earth-friendly way. They do plan to blog about their travels however and we can not wait to read about it.
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