“Me too”: A brief, incomplete explanation of how patriarchal culture makes sexual assault a systemic problem

Many of my close friends on Facebook, and some of my favorite people I follow on Twitter, have been posting the status “Me too.” Since the recent revelation that famous film producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual predator, there has been a lot of conversation about the prominence of sexual assault in our society. I have always had a lot of thoughts and feelings about sexual assault, and now that my heart is being broken seeing how many of my friends have been victims of it, I think that now would be a good time to put my thoughts on blast. And in order to do that, I need to spend a lot of time talking about our patriarchal, male-dominant society.

Quick note: This post isn’t going to bash men. Some men are freaking awesome. But some are awful, and the awful ones ruin it for everyone, men and women alike. Also, men aren’t the only ones who commit sexual assault, nor do they only commit it against women. I’ll touch on that a bit later in the post.

First thing’s first: all of history. Remember how long it was before women were given the right to vote? At every step of history, women have been denied power. And then we never had a female president until 2017.  Oh, sorry, she won the election by a lot, but didn’t get elected. All throughout history and up to this very day, women have been treated as lesser than men, and are less likely to be in positions of power than men. This has always been intentional. I assure you, if men wanted to be inclusive of women, there would be more women in politics, in STEM, and in other male-dominated, respectable fields of work. Unfortunately, the reality is just the opposite.

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Mia Fey, a strong and well-written female character in the Ace Attorney video game series, is heavily sexualized. Her large breasts and cleavage, as well as the Marilyn Monroe beauty mark, were a deliberate design choice to cater to a male-dominant culture.

Second thing’s second: all the media ever. Across every type of media, and in every genre, women are expressed as sexual objects. There’s a reason why people are lauding that recent excellent films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars VII, and Wonder Woman have great female lead characters. Women have never been portrayed as strong or independent. In films throughout history, the protagonist is often a man, and the MacGuffin to be obtained is a woman. In TV commercials targeted at men, women are used as a sexual object to draw men’s attention. In video games, there is a trope known as “chainmail bikini” which describes how female characters, inexplicably, wear only sexy outfits and yet are somehow as versatile as heavily-armored male characters. Even female characters who are powerful and well written are still sexualized– see the image of Mia Fey to the right. I can go on and on. Magazines: Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issueand there are others a lot worse than that. Sports: our culture really only cares about male-dominated sports like football, but even if you watch baseball, soccer, or something else, it’s all men– if you want to see women’s sports on TV, you really have to look for it. Because of how infrequently we see strong female characters in any media, and how often we see them portrayed as sexual objects, and how long all this has been going on, our society has normalized the idea that women are supposed to be sexy, and men are supposed to lust after them, and they are something for men to earn.

Third: the normalization of presenting women as lesser, and as sexual objects, starts young. Men’s very upbringing teaches this. When boys at the playground tease girls and chase them, adults will cutely look at each other and say, “He has a crush on her.” It might seem innocent and cute at that age, but by encouraging that behavior in boys’ formative years, well, just guess what it turns into. Not “respect for women,” I’ll tell you that much. Here’s a radical idea: let’s teach boys to flirt with girls by, I don’t know, being kind, instead of teasing or insulting them.

Fourth: let’s talk about women’s clothing for a second. One of the cruelest questions you can ask a woman who is seeking help after sexual assault is, “Well, what were you wearing?” That question implies a few things:

  1. That you being sexually assaulted is your own fault, and
  2. You were asking for it to happen, and
  3. If you wore a sexy outfit, you should be ashamed of yourself.
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Sweatpants might be considered the laziest, most unattractive clothing, but that won’t stop a sexual predator from preying on someone.

The reality is, women have been sexually assaulted REGARDLESS of the clothes they had on. Definitely check out this photo gallery of perfectly normal clothes women wore when they were sexually assaulted. It is worth noting, however, that sexual predators will identify a woman’s sexy outfit as an invitation to have sex with her, even though obviously the clothes are not a form of consent. And in some cases, it doesn’t even matter if you’re awake, as Brock Turner demonstrated.

Let’s talk about consent for a second, since I just mentioned it. Without consent, you can’t have sex with someone. Unfortunately, I never received proper education about consent until I was in college, and I imagine that hasn’t changed. Consent is something that every person needs to understand from a very young age. Because once puberty hits, the desire will be there, forever, and without a proper understanding of consent, people will become predators before they even realize there might be a problem with touching someone without permission.

Let’s bring alcohol into the consent conversation. A woman who is drunk cannot give consent, because being drunk means you aren’t thinking straight. And yet, many men use alcohol as a tool to get women to have sex with them. I’m always so grateful when my male friends offer to buy me a drink at the bar, because it destigmatizes the idea that buying a drink for someone is code for trying to loosen them up so they will have sex with you. Ugh.

Speaking of parts of male culture that don’t make sense, let’s talk about President Trump’s leaked Access Hollywood tape. Our commander-in-chief disregards all criticism of his boasts about committing sexual assault by calling them “locker room talk.” Now, that sounds like a weak excuse because it is. But I would have to say he wasn’t wrong– even though men do not talk to each other at all in the locker room, that IS how men talk behind closed doors.

In my life, starting around puberty age and ending after college when I chose my adult friends much more carefully (and only for that reason), any time I was in an exclusively male setting, the conversation was always about women and how hot specific women are. When women are present, men know how to be charming. But take them out of the environment and men’s attitudes towards women become vulgar and cruel. It always made me uncomfortable, and I’m not the only one– but I often do feel like a minority in that regard.

Sadly, it is extremely difficult to stand up to other men in these all-male settings. Because many of the gross men are making similar remarks, you as an uncomfortable man immediately get shutdown. In addition, you’ll be ostracized and bullied. Because of how much it feels like it won’t make a difference, and how it’s such a high risk, the uncomfortable men don’t speak up. And I am really ashamed to admit this, but all men typically stick together and won’t warn the women in our lives that the other men we know are creeps. There were many times in college when I could have warned a woman I knew about a certain guy who said disgusting things about her in private, but didn’t. I am sorry. I can be a better ally, and I try every day. For any woman reading this, if you were to ask a male friend if he knows any other guys who would probably commit sexual assault and should be avoided, he would probably say no. But he knows exactly who those guys are. Men don’t warn women about other men. Remember Trump’s disgusting admission of sexual assault? Well, if Billy Bush had any decency, he would have shared what he was told with the world right away, and especially once Trump ran for office. But hey — men don’t warn women about other men, even when we know other men are sexual predators.

And like I mentioned earlier, it’s a societal problem, and some of these awful men have been so inundated with lessons from history and media and their upbringing that they would never even think what they’re talking about and doing could be seen as sexual assault. That doesn’t make sexual assault okay, obviously, but that’s a big reason why it’s so common– many men just don’t even know what sexual assault or consent is.

With how much our society has been talking about sexual assault lately, I have been hyper conscious of my actions around women, so here’s a quick story: I met a cool woman at a bar this past weekend, we talked a lot and hung out late into the night. Even though it was perfectly amicable, and nothing sexual happened between us, I sent her a text the next day apologizing if I had done anything that made her uncomfortable. And she sent me a text back, indicating she was super confused why I would say that. I had embarrassed myself by apologizing– I knew I hadn’t done anything even remotely wrong, and so did she. But after reflecting on all these recent events, I was worried that even I might be so inundated with inaccurate views about consent and sexual assault that I could have flirted too aggressively and made her uncomfortable. Better to risk embarrassing myself than have hurt someone, I thought. Still, I’d rather have not embarrassed myself at all! But that’s how influential and overpowering male culture is– I didn’t even trust my own self, because I’m a man and I’ve been around male culture my whole life, and I know what kind of person emerges from that culture.

Let’s talk more about influence. Sex and money and power are often all talked about in tandem. Have you ever wondered why Game of Thrones has so much sex but is still a good show? George R. R. Martin was smart enough to observe that sex (or, rape, more accurately) has often been the primary method by which men prey upon women in order to feel a sense of empowerment. And money goes right along with that; most men are civilized enough to know they can’t brute-force a woman to have sex with them, so they buy women things and flaunt their wealth in order to attract women. Sometimes they just pay for prostitutes outright. Have you ever noticed how there aren’t male prostitutes? In the world of men, having more money often means getting more sex. Obviously, that’s bullshit, but it is an often-shared idea, that as wealth increases, so too does the frequency of sexual encounters. Men who make a lot of money tend to believe they have not just earned the money, but earned sex with whoever they want. And they will get angry and forceful and commit sexual assault when women reject them. This tweet explains the same concept a bit more artistically than me.

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Would you dare grab this man’s genitals, when he could crush every bone in your body with ease?

Speaking of tweets, Terry Crews, an all-around nice guy actor and former NFL player, recently made headlines by revealing that he has been sexually assaulted too, and recognizes the difficulty that goes along with that. You would think, as a man, and as a very physically intimidating man at 240 pounds, he wouldn’t ever be victim to sexual assault. But unfortunately, it happens between men constantly. Not nearly as much as women, but I’m still going to use the word constantly. Even if it’s playfully pulling down someone’s towel or slapping them inappropriately in the high school locker room after the game, it’s still sexual assault. And when that shit never gets addressed or condemned at that somewhat-more-innocent level, it turns into a much more harmful, serious kind of sexual assault later on.

And don’t forget: at its worst, there is widespread cover up of sexual assault. See: the Catholic church. Just like how men don’t warn women about other men, and men like Terry Crews haven’t come forward until now, there is always a cover up. Despite sexual assault being rampant and happening to everyone and ruining all our lives and the lives of those we care about, no one talks about it. And when people do, they are criticized and have their lives destroyed further, after already going through something terrible. Especially for women.

Lastly:

Me too.

I won’t share my full story here, but I was once taken advantage of by a “friend” while I was really drunk. It really screwed up every facet of my life for months, and I know many women have a far worse story than me, and have more than just one story.

We’ve heard about that “1 in 4” statistic. But I don’t think it’s 1 in 4 women who are sexually assaulted. I think it’s 1 in 1. Sexual assault is a systemic issue and it affects everyone. We all need to keep using our voices to stand up for what’s right.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please don’t let the conversation stop with Harvey Weinstein.

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Reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

BOTW-Share_iconMy horse died. It wasn’t even an epic, valiant death. I was fighting a simple moblin along a forest path while riding my horse, and the creature swung at me with a big sword and killed my horse. It was very unceremonious. However…

Right before that battle, I had just fought and defeated something called a Guardian, a tentacled robot that is one of the hardest enemies in the game. It was the first time I had tried fighting one, and I succeeded. I was riding my horse for that battle too, and there was a frightening moment when the robot shot a laser beam at me that set my horse on fire and almost killed me. My horse and I both survived and we won the fight, but were injured. I knew it was time to bring my horse back to the stable so he could heal up after this intense battle, but instead I was curious about a nearby forest path I saw, and I went in that direction instead. That was where I encountered the moblin who delivered the killing blow to my horse. It was my fault that my horse died, because my thirst for adventure overcame my desire to take proper care of him.

In Breath of the Wild, you can tame and keep any number of horses, but this particular horse was the very first one I ever tamed. I had named him “Boko” because I rescued him from a bokoblin. He was immediately very friendly to me, as if thankful that he was no longer being used for malicious purposes by a bokoblin anymore. Our “bond” rating had reached 100 before I even bought a saddle for him.

This story is why Breath of the Wild is a perfect 10/10 glorious masterpiece. I had an emotional connection to that horse. In this game, the world is so fully alive and so real, with characters who have daily lives and schedules and do things like run indoors when it starts raining, and with animals who flee if you run up close to them or shoot an arrow towards them, and it so powerfully adheres to its own laws of physics and chemistry, that you will create your own stories and adventures.

No one else will ever have the adventure that I opened this review with. It simply can’t be replicated. The game world is insanely massive and will be full of experiences that are wholly unique to each player. The combat and exploration are very fun. I generally hate the idea of “crafting” in games, but the cooking in Breath of the Wild is actually really easy and enjoyable.

The game is an absolutely flawless fantasy-survival simulator and I have a lot of trouble putting it down, even after around ~25 hours in. Get it.

*Bonus review: the Nintendo Switch is an amazing console. I use it exclusively as a handheld (though the main feature is that you can easily switch between playing on your TV or using it as a handheld), and it’s the best gaming experience EVER. The 3DS and, formerly, the Game Boy, were great but this is the first time that home consoles, with their meatier content and better graphics, have become playable on the go or around the house, and that’s amazing. Other reviews whine about lack of Netflix, or a wonky left Joy-Con, but that’s all made-up. They aren’t real problems, and this console has already created and allowed for some of the best gaming experiences I have ever had in my quarter-century life.

Building My Very Own Tiny Home

I have been homeless for 6 (six!) months. I live in my mini van. Thing is, there is a housing crisis in Los Angeles. Housing is absurdly expensive and not-at-all plentiful. In addition, getting a legit, salaried job is hard. You need more than just ambition and a bachelor’s degree.

In order to live as prosperously as I can during this insane time of my life, I took a few weeks and spent several dozen hours renovating my mini van, converting it into a full-fledged tiny home. It was a project I desperately needed to do, because even though I had kept everything clean and tidy and well-organized prior to making these changes, there were so so so many things in my car-home that could have been a lot better. I was lucky enough to temporarily stay with a friend so I could work on these renovations.

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First, I took everything out of my car. Which was literally everything I own… I had already been living in it for 4 months by the time I decided to do this crazy project. I parked in a Home Depot parking lot and took this photo. The space is approximately 3′ 6″ wide x 6′ long.
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Inside Home Depot, I bought all of the wood I would use for this project. This picture doesn’t properly convey the massive amount of wood I purchased. That is a huge amount of wood. Each of those boards was nearly twice my height.
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And because those boards of wood were so massive, when I loaded them into my car, they couldn’t fit. Every plank was too long. It would have been really dangerous to try to drive back to my friend’s house and get to work. So that meant…
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…I would have to cut the wood down right there in the parking lot. Thankfully, I also bought a saw and a tape measure while at Home Depot. All this just so I could shut the back door all the way. I regularly referred to the saw as “Saw Gerrara” because Star Wars Rogue One was about to come out, and I am a huge nerd with no carpentry skills.

 

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I had never sawed thick wood before, and it took me 3-4 hours. Day turned to night.
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Eventually I was able to fit all the wood into my car.
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Stupidly, I made these permanent nicks in the back bumper of my car, while sawing. Saws are sharp.
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On a new day, Saw Gerrera and I got right to work. I didn’t have a proper workbench or wood shop to use, so I just leaned the wood sheets upright against my car.
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After considerable hard work, I bought this little guy from the clearance section of Walmart because I fucking earned it. Best 50 cent purchase ever.
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Also at Walmart, I bought some stuff. From left to right, there is a carpet, a bunch of hinges and locks for the furniture (I’ll explain more on that later), curtains and curtain rods, and 2 dressers that I’d have to assemble myself. I don’t know why I thought that a blue carpet would go well with red curtains; I really just wanted a splash of color in the place and figured that would do it.
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I began building the frame of the tiny home. You can already tell how bad I am at carpentry.
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After a certain amount of sawing and screwing-in nails, I got these very painful red marks on my hand. Hand blisters? They hurt a lot and took weeks to heal.
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When it would get too dark out to keep working, I’d go inside and work on the furniture.
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I decided to use door hinges as a means of connecting the dressers to the floor of the home. If I ever tried to drive around without these large pieces of furniture being nailed down, they’d go tumbling and probably break a window or something. So this was a really important step.
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A new day of measuring and laying down the floor. You can see that I did an absolutely terrible job with the saw. But it turned out stable in the end, which was all I cared about.
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I still had a ton of wood leftover so I piled it up in the car…
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…and placed it in the nearest dumpster. This particular dumpster was already full so I just laid my trash on top of everything that was already in there.
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Then it was time to install the curtains!
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The first splash of much-needed color.
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Hey, remember that tall 4-drawer dresser I assembled? It didn’t fit. Here it is on its side, about to be transported by me to the dumpster. I think I made 3 or 4 trips to that dumpster during this project.
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Thankfully, the smaller dresser did fit, as did my nifty treasure chest, next to it. I also installed the carpet. There are ropes across the drawers of the dresser because, in motion, those doors would be flung out if they weren’t restrained by something.
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In order to make the carpet fit, I had to cut it up into chunks, and it made a big mess.
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I nailed some baskets into the walls to use as shelves, and put some more storage containers along the wall, and bam! Tiny home completed. I have plenty of room for everything I own, it’s extremely well-organized, and I have more room to move around, and to sleep.

So there you have it. That’s my tiny home. I have been living with these renovations for a month now, and it has made my life supremely easier and better. However, homelessness is still extremely stressful. I still have to be stealthy to avoid having the cops called on me by frightened neighborhood folks. I still have to pee in a bottle, and find a good opportunity to dispose of my piss later. There is still no electricity or running water, which are awful things to have to live without. I still have to spend a lot of time on the street, and in LA, the other homeless people here are crazy. Like, a violent and scary kind of crazy. I have been threatened, and seen homeless people threaten each other, on an almost daily basis. So I really need to get out of homelessness. It’s not safe. It’s not comfortable. It’s extremely unnerving and risky. But at least the horrible, painful, slow process of reaching a better life has become a little bit more bearable now that I have a much more genuine tiny home.

 

 

Revisiting the Historic Women’s March

I should have posted this sooner, but I thought that the massive protest known as the Women’s March, held in major and minor cities all over the country, would be the talk of the town for at least weeks to come. I was wrong. It turns out that in Trump’s America, each weekend is a new major protest, following week after week of unbelievably corrupt actions coming from Washington.

In any case, here are some simple photos and stories from the brief time I spent at the Women’s March in Los Angeles.

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I took the metro to get from Santa Monica to downtown LA. It was my second time ever using the metro here, and the first time doing it by myself. I spotted this pretty green mountain and thought it made for a nice photo.
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And the clouds that day looked like snow. It was a beautiful afternoon.
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Still on the metro, I saw this smashed Trump pinata as I got closer towards downtown, hanging from someone’s balcony. The day was about to get weird.
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I arrived later in the day, so lots of folks were already there, trying to leave. The size of the crowd was immediately obvious.
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One of the first things I saw was this recycling bin full of protest signs. Some people, disrespectfully, threw trash into it also. The first thing I thought was, “Is this a ‘take a sign, leave a sign’ program?” Nah. Protest signs were simply littered all over downtown, often not even in bins or trash cans.
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This photo does not convey how tightly everyone was packed into the same crowd. It was hard to breathe, and I am amazed I even got out eventually.
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The stage where they had speakers, singers, and more was massive. This was the best angle I could get.
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There was an awesome wall made out of the protest signs. It was just radical.
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Here’s a closer look at a small section of that wall. It’s rather vulgar, but so is the fact that the president of the United States has bragged about committing sexual assault, and then refuses to take accountability for it, and says those who accuse him of sexual assault are “looking for attention.”
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And of course the metro ride home was much more packed than the ride there. It was really hot in there.

Embracing the Chrome Dome

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Here’s how this adventure will end.

Sadly, I’m not talking about the Chrome Dome from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I am a man. I’m still a bit young, 25, but I have been suffering from a receding hairline for several years already. Many men begin balding at some point in their life. My genetics decided I should start a little earlier than most. Some guys lose their hair around age 17, so I can’t really complain too much.

I struggled with the idea of fully shaving my head and going bald because I LOVE long hair. I think long hair looks great on both men and women, and it’s super fun to create different kinds of hairstyles.

However, even though the hair on the sides and back of my head is thick and full and strong… it is very thin and sparse up on top, in addition to the aforementioned receding hairline.

Last night, I decided to finally embrace the reality that is my balding. Today, I am bald.

I had been growing my hair out for 16 months, and it was longer than it had ever been.

Here are some before photos. You can notice the awful receding hairline, and the awkward “bangs” my hairline created.

And I had to get THESE next photos, because I am so in-love with the man-bun hairstyle. I am seriously going to miss putting my hair into a bun, even though it never really looked good on me.

Lastly, the photos below show the new me. Well, I’m not new. The only new thing is my decision to embrace my baldness. It’s not even been 24 hours, so I don’t really feel any different. But hopefully in time I’ll feel more comfortable and confident and stop worrying about my hair and physical appearance so much. That was the goal in shaving it all off.

Time to grow an epic beard!

How to end mass shootings

This is a very important topic to me, and I apologize for not having any fancy editing or effects or a proper YouTube channel set up, but I didn’t want to wait until I have all that stuff to upload this video.

Please be a part of the conversation, and the solution. Leave a comment, send a tweet, hug a friend. Just talking about it helps, and remember that you can express yourself nonverbally too. Every action you make matters and has power.

The 4 Kindest YouTubers I Met At VidCon

I went to VidCon. As one does at VidCon, I met YouTubers. All of them were cordial, but some were incredibly wonderfully nice and very sincere and so easy to make a real connection with. Here are the YouTubers that I had the best interactions with at VidCon:

Shay Carl

Shay and other panelists were rushed off the stage when the panel concluded, but after a few minutes, Shay popped out just for a hot second to talk to a couple fans. I was one of those two people. Shay is the biggest role model of my entire life, and I wrote this lengthy blog post before I left for VidCon about why he was the sole reason I even decided to go. I went to VidCon for no reason more significant than to thank Shay Carl for all he has done for me. And I got to do that. I only had a brief window to speak with him, and I told him some of my deepest darkest secrets in seconds, almost succumbing to tears. He hugged me and told me I inspire him to do what he does, and was very encouraging. This man is literally a hero. I tweeted about the encounter, and Shay “liked” it. He liked another of my tweets the next day, too. They were my first online interactions with him directly, and it is pretty cool that my very first-ever interaction with Shay was in-person.

Anna Akana

I got Anna for one of my lottery signings (you are entered into a lottery system to wait in a long line to meet a famous YouTuber), and I was so pumped. I have been a huge fan of hers for such a long time. I was one of the very first people in line to speak with her, and when I got to, I told her that she is the funniest comedian on YouTube, how relatable her comedy is, and how her more-serious subjects have really had an impact on me. As I was gushing about how great she is to her face, she got really happy and gave me a big hug. That’s where this photo came from:

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Left: Anna Akana. Right: No one important.

Grace Helbig

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Me meeting Grace. She immediately reacted to my tattoo in a very positive way. Also, Grace is beautiful on her own, but just look how gorgeous she is when placed next to an ugly dude like me.

Grace was super nice and we had such a great little chat. I told her about how the “song” from her movie, Camp Takota, which obnoxiously goes “Camp, camp, camp it up!” has been stuck in my head for literally years. She told me I put a curse on her because now it would be stuck in her head too. When I walked away, I said to her, “Stay amazing!” and she said, “Likewise!” She also made a pretty great face during one of our photos:

 

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Grace is also an amazing hugger. She’s a seriously awesome person.

 

Peanut Butter Gamer

I’m not as into the gaming side of YouTube, but Peanut Butter Gamer (Austin Hargrave) was on a panel that I went to, and he was really generous with his time afterwards, talking to every single fan even though he got swarmed. He is, in my opinion, the funniest gamer on YouTube, and I told him that, and he was very sincerely thankful for my compliments. I think it’s because he’s just a normal dude who happened to make it big doing something fun that he loves. I don’t think he ever saw himself as the inspirational public figure he has come to be, so he is super humble and just a really nice guy. He was one of the first YouTubers I met, and I took a photo with him, and it was so blurry that I didn’t bother to take photos with any other YouTubers for the rest of the convention.

The end.

I did meet a TON of other YouTubers, and they were all very cool, and it was so great to meet them, but these 4 people were the coolest, nicest, most genuine YouTubers among all the ones I happened to meet. Go subscribe to their channels.