The last few months have been a shitshow. From the ongoing spread of COVID-19 to the need for recent demonstrations against police brutality and white supremacy in the name of Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, it’s as if we’re living in a dystopian blockbuster. I’ve found myself clamouring for sites of joy—if not to recharge my social justice battery, then to break up the incessant videos of protestors being abused by police and military personnel.
I know what you’re thinking—and yes, I am suggesting you get lost in a rabbit hole of YouTube videos. While the platform can be as equally enraging as the New York Times op-ed section, there are wonderfully refreshing pockets of content, particularly from LGBTQ2 creators of colour, that make me smile just thinking about them. I want you to smile, too!
I’ve put together a list of seven YouTubers and their channels that are sure to lift your spirits. From reaction videos and singing competitions to makeup tutorials and every day vlogs about nothing, these are the channels you should subscribe to. (I’ve even given you suggestions on which videos to start with—you can thank me later!)
The Terrell Show
I’m already on record claiming that Terrell Grice’s channel is perhaps the best-kept secret of the internet. Take a quick gander at one of his videos and you’ll understand why: The South Carolina-bred entertainer holds court with some of the best singers this side of heaven, and when I say singers, I actually mean sangers—the flat-footed variety. Come for his reaction videos to The Voice and The Four performances, stay for the interviews and Song Association games.
Dubbed as the “official gateway to the underground ballroom culture,” Ballroom Throwbacks is a digital repository of ballroom history. Created by Caesar Williams, it hosts countless videos filmed at balls featuring voguing battles, sex siren competitions and more. In fact, if you’ve come across any voguing videos on social media, they’ve probably come from here. This is the channel for anyone who counts themselves as an admirer or lover of shows like Pose and Legendary as it gives you a peek into the current scene.
Where to start: Literally any battle involving Leiomy Maldonado.
Have you been looking for more examples of queer love? This is the channel for you. Steph and Tasha are a married couple who serve up everything from mukbangs and DIY cooking demonstrations to hilarious stories about STI scares. (And they have a second channel of vlogs that are just as enjoyable.) They’ve also shared heartwarming stories about being lesbians raising a child that will make you want to have a few crumb snatchers of your own.
Where to start: Their retelling of how they met and their first kiss.
Any time a musician drops a new track, I anxiously await for Zach Campbell to upload his popular series “Bop or Flop.” It’s one of the many types of reaction videos he does, sizing up the latest music from Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and others. He’s also been slaying visual covers of some of your faves, including Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now.”
Where to start: Campbell’s enthusiastic response to Queen Bey’s remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.”
Tae and Lou
Another Black lesbian couple that’ll make you believe in love, Tae and Lou have been killing the mukbang game. They’re actually the channel that proved to me that watching people eat was extremely enjoyable.
Where to start: This adorable mukbang with Lou’s daughter.
Machaizelli Kahey, a.k.a. MacDoesIt, creates content that is a mix between “intelligently funny” and “an organized hot mess”—his words, not mine. But it’s truly the best way to describe his videos. His most popular ones, by far, involve him reacting to anti-gay commercials, but I love him trying on horrible halloween costumes so we don’t have to.
Where to start: Mac teaching himself popular TikTok dances.
If you haven’t yet come across the work of activist and animator Kat Blaque, you’re in for a treat. Her YouTube page is home to explainers, video essays and reaction videos like most others, but they’re filtered through her unapologetically Black and trans vantage. This is the channel for someone interested in personal education and perspective broadening, as she tackles everything from racist TikToks to her prior experience as a sex worker.
Where to start: Her most recent thoughts on J.K. Rowling’s transphobia.