Entertainment

Chris Stanley is Bringing About Community Conversations

Chris Stanley is just a bundle of fun and positivity. He’s been heating up the content creator scene for over 5 years, becoming one of the first LGBTQ+ creators on TikTok to go viral, for a video featuring his mom reacting to explicit lyrics on a gay lip-sync video. From travel vlogs and meme videos to street interviews and heartfelt life sharing, he’s amassed well over 300 million views on his content, garnering the attention of Madonna herself. He is one of the fastest-growing queer content creators on the scene. And he does all the work himself.

His personality developed quickly while creating his own identity in a childhood that included a house full of 5 brothers, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and becoming a star soccer player. He was used to all eyes on him, his personality and sense of humor was already starting to take shape.

I always felt like I was the favorite child, but I’m not confirmed on that. [Laughs] I never really felt like I was competing with them for any attention or anything because I felt like I kind of already had it a little bit. I used to get in a bunch of trouble with my siblings when I was younger, but I kind of just felt like I already had everyone’s attention.

I always liked trying to make people laugh. What I would do before I came out to make people laugh is act kind of feminine, but like, in funny ways. And then that’s why people always thought I was gay, and I thought everyone always knew that I was gay, but apparently no one did when I came out. But my inspirations were The Office, Schitt’s Creek, and Parks and Recs. That’s my favorite type of humor, I’ve always just found that super funny. Then I made a meme page in 2018 on Instagram, which took off. I think just being in that culture, gay meme culture, helped me a lot to learn what people think is funny.

In his more somber content, Chris has made videos with his family about his coming out and sexuality, being a staunch advocate for gay youth and queer acceptance. His own coming out at school did not go well. After being outed by accident, he lost the majority of his core group of friends. He was ostracized to the point that he quit the soccer team. This would be a double-edged sword as it led to him becoming reclusive but would ultimately lead to a thinking tank for his future content. His coming out with his family fared better.

I told my mom and she said, I thought we already went over it because we had this one conversation – she asked me if I was gay, and I said I wasn’t. So, you know, they say mothers always know. I guess she just knew even though I was lying to her. I was really scared to tell my Dad, but I never knew that my uncle was gay. After I told him, I felt so stupid, how did I not see that? So, I guess I have the gay gene. [Laughs] With my brothers, they just didn’t really care. My older brother used to make fun of me a little bit because he clearly saw that I was a little gay. After I came out, he instantly changed his whole thing. It was just a sibling way, how he was giving me a hard time. He didn’t actually mean it in a negative way because after I came out in school and I lost a lot of my friends, he let me hang out with him and his friends and he just took me in.

That was definitely the worst period of my life. I know everyone says this and it’s so cliche, but it gets better. I started writing. I would write poems and short stories just to have an outlet for my creativity. I would say that’s where it started more because I would just write these gay poems and gay stories with characters and that really helped me. But I think what saved me was, I remember being mad at the world and going to visit my friend in Washington. We went camping and I don’t know, they say nature really can help you if you’re depressed. The next year I was a little bit better. So, I would say other than the advice “it gets better,” go camping! [laughs]. Find the people who accept you and keep them close and just know that it won’t be like that forever. I feel like it really shaped me into who I am. So, it can shape you and make you into a better person.

Since then, Chris has included straight people in his content to initiate conversation and understanding between the LGBTQ community and our allies. One of his videos with one of his straight friends has garnered over 35 million views.

Chris had initially intended to go to college after a gap year, but COVID hit, and he ended up using YouTube to teach himself how to record and edit content. It was his way of giving back to the community as the content he had viewed on social media helped with his coming out transition. His lip-synch video with his mom reached the million-view mark, and that’s when he knew this was something he should continue. His content just continued to grow and each time he pivoted into a different type of content; his audience would increase. Even Madonna reposted one of his videos. What does he think audiences respond to most about his work?

I think they just like to see me living my authentic gay life. I think especially they like it when I make videos with my cousins and my family and my straight friend because I guess they just like to see the interaction and it’s nice to see that my whole family just doesn’t care; that they love me for me and they’re down to be in my silly videos.

With continued all eyes on him, he feels the pressure to keep the ball rolling, knowing his audience may get a little tougher to please.

I feel a lot of pressure sometimes. We know gays, sometimes they’re a little bit brutal in just judging things. It’s challenging thinking of content that I want to make so that people will keep enjoying it and not get tired of it or think it’s stupid or just not like it, but I enjoy it at the same time. I would say the pressure adds up, especially with burnout. I was making YouTube videos for five years every single week. Literally every single week. And I didn’t even skip any weeks. So now I’m finally at a place where I’ve stopped doing it every single week because I really want to try and raise the bar for myself and make cool stuff. I’ve found that it takes me more time than just one week.

And how is Chris the most different as a person than from his on-camera persona?

I’ll talk to anyone now, but the biggest misconception people always have about me is they think I’m this huge extrovert, but I’m still more of an introvert I would say. Especially in social settings, especially when I meet a new person, I’m so quiet and I’ll just watch everything and take it all in.

Another common guest in Chris’ content is his boyfriend, Brett. Brett serves the Boston PD and was a contestant on The Amazing Race and Survivor. Brett is older than Chris, with one foot in the bear community. The difference between Chris and Brett has inspired a lot of commentary, and their videos have millions upon millions of views. Was Chris nervous about sharing his relationship in his content?

We were very hesitant at first. I kind of always wanted to do it more than him, but we were a little nervous about the age gap and everything. Eventually, I wore him down and I convinced him to be in some videos. It definitely took a while before we were both comfortable with it. I’m glad we did because a lot of people have said how it’s helped them with their relationship and stuff like me being a twink and him being a bear. I guess people also like it because we address the beauty standards in the gay community.

How did he get into bears?

I just started realizing that I like dad bods more than skinny guys. You know, any body type is attractive. But specifically, for me, I started liking dad bods and bears because when I think of lumberjacks it’s just like these burly, masculine guys. Maybe it’s just because I like bears the animal too; bears are probably my spirit animal. [Laughs]  Abs are still hot – like go off with abs and everything – but a dad bod is just so nice. Companies that I see at Pride always like to hire these muscle skinny, muscle bros and they’re always advertising their stuff and I’m like, that’s great but you know what would work on me is if you hired some bears to do that. Like, come on now!

With his videos covering all aspects of his life, where does Chris draw the line when keeping it personal?

I feel like my life is just like an open book. Obviously, I keep personal things to myself, but I feel like if sharing something is going to help people more than it’s going to be a little embarrassing for me or oversharing, then it’s still worth it to put it out there and let people in on it because someone could be going through something similar, or they just relate.

So where does someone as young as Chris go from here with more than a pocketful of followers? He has started to add short films to his roster, has reality TV ideas, and will be releasing a single for Pride. He is continually seeing how he can challenge himself. What does he want audiences to get most from his work?

I want them to be comfortable in themselves for sure by seeing me be me. I wouldn’t say I’m like super funny, but sometimes I’m a little funny, so hopefully I make them smile or chuckle and have more confidence in doing whatever, just being themselves. I feel like every gay person is trying to have their moment, it’s definitely a little exhausting. But because we just love attention, we all want to be in the spotlight all the time and keep trying to one-up each other. Maybe we should just chill and have fun and do the simple things that make us smile, like my videos.

You can follow Chris on IG and YouTube: @StanChris; TikTok:@StanChrissss

(Photos are courtesy of Chris Stanley)

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Published by
Alexander Rodriguez

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