To kick off the new season of his “Chosen Family” series, Tyler Oakley met with a number of homeless LGBTQ youth to better understand their uncomfortable reality.
Oakley, 29, didn’t have to travel far from his home in Los Angeles to gain some perspective. The YouTube personality, author and queer rights activist points out in the episode that up to 6,000 youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are struggling with homelessness in Los Angeles County alone. The video featuring Oakley says an estimated 40 percent of them identify as LGBTQ.
The experiences he heard, Oakley told HuffPost, were “nothing short of mind-blowing.” On a more positive note, many of the youths he spoke with didn’t let their travails with homelessness define them.
“Instead, it’s just a moment in their journey,” he told HuffPost. “They’re currently more displaced. Many people believe they did something to put themselves in this situation, when often ― by embracing themselves and being proud of who they are ― the bigotry of their families is what put them in the situation.”
During the episode, Oakley also meets with transgender singer-actress Alexandra Grey, who lived in a homeless LGBTQ center before going on to a successful career, with roles in the TV series “Glee” and “Transparent.”
“Most of us didn’t choose this. We can’t help it that our families don’t accept us,” Grey notes in the clip. “That’s the reality of what we have to face for being who we are. A lot of us get disowned.”
The debut season of “Chosen Family,” which hit YouTube last year, touched on topics like the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York and 2016′s Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. This time around, Oakley said he and co-director Nathan Flanagan-Frankl hope to include “more people and perspectives.”
“We really push each other to think about what we’re missing and who we really need to hand the microphone over to,” he said. “My mission for the show... is to encourage my audience to listen, to diversify the queer perspectives they consume, and to amplify the disenfranchised voices in their communities however they can.”
Check out the trailer for Season 2 of Oakley’s “Chosen Family” video series below. And you can watch more of his videos here.