Event by KU’s Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Resource Center
By Lex Borkoskie
YouTuber Kat Blaque headlined this year’s Gender and Sexual Minorities Conference as the keynote speaker on Oct. 6. “Advocacy in Action” was the theme of the GSM Conference, hosted by KU’s Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Resource Center.
Blaque is an illustrator and YouTuber with over 500 thousand subscribers. She spoke about her experiences as a trangender woman throughout her life, within work, and how she handled both of those worlds coming together.
The point where her personal and professional lives collided was the video, “Sometimes You’re A Caterpillar,” which was a collaboration with Franchesca Ramsey. After the video was shown, she expressed that she was very nervous when it first published.
“I had a completely separate online persona for my art and a completely separate persona for my YouTube stuff,” she explained, “and that was the true binding of the two. It definitely is the moment that changed things for me.”
She then went on to talk more about her life and experience with YouTube and being in the public eye. When she first started, other trans YouTubers had small followings, “which was mostly just trans people following each other.” She stated that a lot of the original YouTubers she started out with have left YouTube to continue with their lives.
Blaque stayed on YouTube as a creator and continues advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, saying, “It’s really important to be there, because I need to be the example…an example of a person who shows it’s possible for you to live and exist in this society. It’s still possible, and that is life-saving. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s still possible. You can be yourself.”
Blaque also discussed her experience with sexual violence, and how she advocates for other victims. “After I went to therapy, I started to really realize that I had a lot of trauma relating to my experience with sexual violence,” she said. “As I started to unpack that, it became incredibly important for me to talk about it. I’ve not always been able to handle it.”
She explained how the first video she posted about her sexual violence experience got a lot of negative comments, saying “There’s a horde of people online who are eager to tell you that you deserved it.”Blaque reiterated the importance of survivors knowing that there are other people out there like them.
Afterwards in an interview, Blaque’s thoughts on speaking at universities were that “it’s important for me to actually be here and be visible, so I love doing these kinds of things as it’s quite literally that. It’s more direct than what I do on YouTube.”
Some advice Blaque has for queer and trans people who are in a similar situation as she was, growing up in a conservative family or area, is to “Come out when you’re safe, when you know you’re safe. Coming out is a really complex thing because, especially online, you have a particular narrative of coming out.”
“I didn’t have a real conversation with my parents until I was legally an adult who, if I needed to, could’ve found a place to stay. I think you have to think about your safety before you think about being the idyllic LGBT person because that’s more important.”