Ari Fitz is a Youtube content creator with great videos on being lesbian and androgynous among many things. She tackles tough issues as well. I highly recommend checking her videos out.
Your content is super great for LGBT+ youth, what do you identify as?
Why thank you! I identify as a black androgynous queer woman. At the same time, I identify as an artist and storyteller. At the same time, I identify as daddy.
Was it hard coming out? How did it feel?
I was a really good kid growing up. I’m pretty sure my family thought I’d grow up to be on the level of an Obama. You know, the nice black husband, 2.5 kids, white picket fence type. So when I came out to my mom, she was more surprised than anything.
She had to fundamentally change her perception of how my life would be. Then that shock moved to fear because her generation saw gay people killed by AIDS and hate crimes. It wasn’t until she met my first girlfriend that things smoothed over for her. She would say things like, “oh she’s just an awkward dorky girl like my kid, okay that’s fine” and I knew we had passed that uncomfortable stage in our friendship. As my best friend and my mother, she was the only family member I wasn’t going to risk, so I was happy when we worked through it.
My family on the other hand tried to ostracize me when I changed my relationship status to show I was dating another woman on Facebook.
Again, I had received a lot of praise in my family and everyone had an idea of how my life would go. I got a full ride to my top school, UC Berkeley, and I came out in college long after I was required to maintain familial relationships. They guffawed and gossiped amongst themselves, and I decided to stop talking to everyone entirely. I traded those required familial relationships that had turned sour with positive friendships that supported me and honestly, I was great. I continued to live my badass unapologetic (and now queer) life, continued to succeed and hit the goals I set for myself, and soon many family members decided they still wanted to be a part of my life.
Finally, my friends were another story entirely. They were all gay. In fact, most of my friends were just waiting for me to come out. So when I finally did, they were like “duh girl, now pass that ketchup I’m hungry.”
Did you lose friends in the process?
Not a single one. I’d say this is also partly due to the fact that I went to a very liberal school and grew up in the very liberal and diverse San Francisco Bay Area. Queerness was not queer, there.
Your videos are very honest, especially the video about lesbians having sex, why are you so open on Youtube?
I got started on YouTube late. If I were to be honest, I’d say I’ve only made YouTube videos seriously for about two years now. So, I joined long after Youtubers had a specific style and specific way of talking to the camera / their audience. I think that’s worked in my favor because I talk to my audience like I’d talk to anyone else. I’m just as honest, raw and open about my life and feelings on camera as I am in person.
It’s something I’ve never been able to shake. Also, I think the act of being honest automatically instills a thick layer of confidence on you because you have nothing to hide. That’s just it, I have nothing to hide so why not?
Do you face hate online? How do you deal with trolls?
Oh all the time. I think the ambiguity of my gender presentation brings all the trolls to the yard. The common thing for me is I get several negative comments about me not being biologically female, etc. I also feel strange wanting to defend myself and my identity when that happens, however. Like okay so what if I wasn’t born a woman, does that not make me a woman? It’s a fine line and something I’ve struggled with for years.
Overall, I deal with trolls the same way I deal with any negative shit in my life. I let it roll off my back and continue to succeed.
I know people are sometimes confused on your gender, how do you handle that?
I’m used to it by now. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did growing up. I appreciate my androgyny more than ever now. I appreciate my ambiguity.
I wouldn’t be Ari Fitz if I wasn’t androgynous and made others a little uneasy trying to decide on my gender and how to approach me.
I posted the other day the single best compliment I’ve received is “I don’t know if you’re a boy or girl, but you’re beautiful”. I’m happy to be that person that calls into question how basic this gender binary truly is – and I do that just by being here, just by existing.
Any advice to the LGBT+ community?
Identify beyond being “LGBT+”. It’s a dope community (obviously!), but if I had to guess I’d say there’s a lot more to you than that.