Gigi Gorgeous is Building Bridges Between the Gay and Transgender Communities Through Visibility

Written by | Entertainment, The Lens

Getting your first 100 million views on YouTube makes you a star, surpassing 500 million views and using that stardom for activism makes you a gorgeous queen. What we’ve learned from social media is that it can be a world of smoke and mirrors, what you see is not what you always get. Gigi Gorgeous Getty is proof that there is a real beauty that exists beyond smoke and mirrors, that beauty doesn’t always come with makeup, gowns, or more followers – it comes from sharing your story, flaws and all, to the world. Gigi – YouTuber, socialite, model, actress, activist, and now podcaster – has shown us it all…and it is inspiring. She has used her platform to speak to both the LGBTQ and straight community alike – live your truth.

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When I named myself Gigi Gorgeous it wasn’t necessarily because I was feeling “gorgeous”, but because of how the word made me feel and how it made other people feel.  It’s a word that makes you happy and it’s empowering, and who doesn’t also want to feel gorgeous?! I like the way it rolls off the tongue and the way it makes you smile when you say it. I think the word “gorgeous” ultimately is happiness.   

Before there was YouTube, there was Gigi’s competitive diving career. Those earlier days would shape Gigi’s empire. Diving’s biggest life lesson?

Without a doubt, my work ethic. I was diving at a nationally competitive level, ultimately the Olympics was the end goal for Team Canada. Being a competitive athlete teaches you that you need to put in the work, show up, and be your own boss and number one fan. All of which transcribes to my career today. I’ve worked at a Mc Donald’s, a clothing store, and with all of them, you have to make the most of it. No one is going to do it for you and HOW you live is through your own mindset.   

In 2008, in eleventh grade, Gigi would post her first YouTube clip – a makeup tutorial partly inspired by the work of fellow YouTuber, Michelle Phan. What would Gigi tell herself at that moment before hitting upload?

I definitely do remember and it’s a video that changed my life forever even back in high school. What I would tell myself is “I’m going to feel down and I’m going to doubt myself a bunch on this journey” but just strap in and get ready for the time of your life.   

I remember when I hit 50k subscribers on YouTube, my sister and I were actually just talking about it. It was a huge moment for me and I had just started this as a hobby. It wasn’t anything that I thought would reach that many people at all. So that’s when I thought “WOW people are really going to get to know me” and have already gotten to know me. This is becoming a lot bigger than what I thought it would be.  

Gigi came out as transgender in 2013. With an avid YouTube audience and growing mainstream popularity, she took the risk to share her transition, bumps and all, with her fans.

It actually wasn’t necessarily a hard decision. I was filming so much of my transition behind the scenes and I thought about it for a very long time before ultimately sharing it all. I mentally prepared myself so when I did decide to share it with the world, it was an exciting process for me. I felt a little nervous because I had never seen anybody do it before the way that I had. There was no rule book so I just thought of it as “this is my story and I hope that people like it.” 

Gigi’s transition videos would ignite new energy from her followers. Messages of support and encouragement filled the comments, and trans youth across the nation would look to her as a role model. Gigi’s personal life was a thing of the past, everything was out in the open – we were along for her life’s journey, no matter how it continued to evolve.

I try not to live with regrets but it’s hard sometimes when you’ve said something online and it can be brought up again because as we know, everything lives forever online. The advice I would give to anyone is to make sure anything you’re putting out there is something you can stand by and something you can speak to at the time. Coming out several times for me has been hard because although I don’t identify with that person anymore, it’s still nice to see and remember that specific time in my life. Be ready for change, but I think it’s healthy to live without regrets.   

Gigi was sharing her life with her audience; she didn’t necessarily intend to become an international spokesperson for the LGBTQ community. But it happened. How does one juggle being a role model from our community but also a sassy queen with opinions?

I feel like it’s a double-edged sword. It’s such an honor to be a voice for my community because my younger self never really had that as readily accessible as it is now.  At the same time, letting my hair down is freeing and exciting, and I don’t want to feel like I have to turn that off because it’s all part of sharing my story and just living my life.  

What is her take on YouTube and cancel culture?

I think cancel culture can potentially have good results but it’s also problematic. Everyone nowadays has become hyper-aware of what people say and do and I think to an extent we should all be held accountable, but people should also be given an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to authentically apologize. Now there are more eyes than ever on the online community so it’s important to hold yourself accountable for your actions. So, I think cancel culture can potentially be a good thing for awareness and learning purposes.  

In 2019, Gigi released her memoir, He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories, and Mistakes From My Transgender Journey. The book was not just a celebration of where Gigi was in life, or what was ahead. It was also a celebration of everything Gigi was.

I’ve always found beauty in the past whether it’s a mistake, embarrassing and cringe-worthy, or a beautiful moment. I have gone through so much change with my physical appearance, my name, and my pronouns publicly that it took a long time to embrace it. It’s really important for me to show that anything is possible. I never thought that I would be where I am now so if I can show someone that they can achieve their dreams too, then that’s worth it to me. I’ve talked about my past and mentioned my old name so many times that it doesn’t affect me anymore. There is power in that, power in taking back the awkwardness or shame of those bad feelings. 

Even as we gain our footing back as a community, recovering from the last administration, we have also seen the divisiveness within it. Members of the trans and gay community have often spoken about feeling like they are on opposite sides of the room. When the President of the US starts to mention trans rights along with other minority rights, the nation needs to listen up. 

Trans rights are human rights. I watched an interview the other day and the guest was explaining that society opens up and then closes off to gay culture, acceptance, and moving forward within the community. I found that to be really interesting because I always thought that it was an uphill, gradual battle and we were never going to take intense steps back. I think it’s important to think about it as whenever we see our rights being discriminated against or taken away, just know that it’s temporary and when we all come together to fight, we are going to be able to take those steps forward and make our world a more positive place. 

How do we build better bridges between the gay and trans communities? 

Visibility is my kneejerk reaction to that question because the more stories that are out there, the louder people are, the result is more understanding. Something we all need to see and hear are diverse stories. Within the community, there are always going to be some differences and bridges to be built but visibility is the first step.      

After many evolutions, Gigi came out for the fourth time as pansexual. A couple of years into her marriage to Nas Getty, she realized that the love she had for Nas was not based on gender, but based on who they are. The wedding itself garnered mainstream media attention, and Gigi’s coming out has sparked conversations outside the LGBTQ community. Is the idea of love outside of societal norms gaining traction?

Oh, ABSOLUTELY. I think with the younger generation especially, they are so comfortable being without labels.  This is inspiring others including myself to go without them as well. For example, I recently just came out as pansexual which ultimately means you fall in love with the soul of somebody and it’s not about male or female or gender. I think a lot more people are identifying with such a label or without any at all. I think that’s pushing the world to be more of a loving, inclusive place and I’m excited to see it grow even further from here.   

With the demands of the public eye, how does one successfully have a relationship in today’s social media age?

Well, it depends on your love language, which I recently got into. But generally, I would say quality time is VERY important. Especially in the entertainment business, it’s a lot of GO, GO, GO and that can be straining and draining as an individual and especially on your relationship. That is probably #1 to me along with communication. Whether it’s romantic or just friendship, in the business, it’s really easy to get lost in the weeks or months of not actually talking or communicating.

Gigi’s fans are attracted to her beauty, her story, and engaging videos. Her tutorials are not just tutorials, they are hang out sessions between Gigi and her audience. A small-town trans kid in the Midwest can be a part of Gigi’s life and see that living your truth is an option.

I usually hear secrets the most from my fans because I’ve shared so many vulnerable, personal moments in my life and I think my fans feel comfortable confiding in me. I hear things like “I’ve never said that before out loud” or “nobody knows this about me.” I love and cherish that because I know the feeling of finally getting it off your chest and having another person hear it so I’m all here for the secrets all the time.    

What exactly is a day in the life of Gigi like?

It depends! I feel like I genuinely do not have a standalone routine but I do encourage a routine wherever you can because it gives your life structure. If I’m filming a weekly YouTube video, if I’m on set somewhere, just relaxing, or going to lunch with my husband or my friends, it really does differ every single day. BUT I recently went vegan during COVID which I think has been a positive decision for my body and I encourage others to do so too! I’m living for it!   

What is the most un-Gigi-like thing she does?

Oh, I love this question! I’m really into documentaries, especially conspiracy theory docs. I love Lisa Ling’s show, Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller on National Geographic. Any stories that deep dive into things that are dangerous or illegal are so interesting to me. 

What is Gigi like when she is not being Gigi?

I think we can all relate to this. All having our “on” person. Whenever I am Gigi Gorgeous, I feel like I’m “on” whereas when I’m just Gigi I feel much less pressure and I’m definitely more chill than people think I am. At the end of the day, they are both the same girl and it’s not a different persona or anything like that. With Gigi Gorgeous everything is just “fabified.”  With Gigi the wife, Gigi the girl, she can just hang out and chill.     

Gigi has appeared on more mileage of red carpets than most people travel during their life. Interviews on camera, in print, on social media – what does Gigi wish people would start asking?

I wish that allies, specifically, would ask me what they can do for our community rather than asking what I’m doing from within the community.   

This summer, Gigi will debut her podcast. She will be on the other side of the mic and, though not many details are known at this time, we know it’s going to be big.

I am SO over the moon about my podcast, I’ve been wanting to do one forever and I’ve finally found the perfect network and the perfect cohost. I wasn’t going to do it any other way except the right way. I can’t wait for so many special guests and to have fan interaction and hear from our future listeners. It’s going to be released super soon! 

The number one important thing to me when I’m listening to a podcast, and I listen to so many, is that I’m either having a good time, learning something, or both. I know my listeners will walk away with both of these things. I like when people are just having fun, talking as if we are hanging out having a drink with the girls, or at a sleepover, and that is my favorite way to converse. We’re just hanging out but we’re also having conversations about things that matter and things that maybe people haven’t thought about or talked about before. That goes for me as well, I’m going to have guests on that make a meaningful impact in my life and give me a different outlook or perspective.

This Pride, you can add Gigi to your podcast playlist. She’s ready.

Last year was really hard because everyone was saying “Pride is canceled,” “we’ll revisit Pride next year,” etc. because of the pandemic. I know for myself and a lot of other people that Pride is their favorite time of year because they get to be around like-minded people, they get to celebrate themselves and others who have had a hard year and life. This year is different because we all get to really come together in a sense, it won’t be normal per se, but it’s going to be a lot more normal than it was last year. So, I feel like Pride is finally going to be what it’s truly meant to be this year.      

Her Pride message to her fans is a thank you, perfectly Gigi:

I just want to say how much I love each and every one of them for sticking by me and STAYING GORGEOUS!  

Photo: Shaun Vadella

 

Last modified: June 1, 2021