Joey Graceffa is opening up about his coming out, with the YouTube star sharing his story on National Coming Out Day in the hopes of encouraging others who are still in the closet.
Graceffa released a video on Sunday that talked about the difficulties he faced in telling friends and family that he is gay, and the pressures that kept him in the closet until that point. Graceffa has partnered with the Love Has No Labels campaign, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness.
Joey Graceffa has more than 5.2 million subscribers, and is using his platform to help further the campaign. He had joined with the national non-profit organization Ad Council in the group’s Creators for Good program, which partners with YouTube creators to promote various social causes.
“Now that I’ve come out to my audience, I want to use my platform to help those struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or other aspects of their lives,” said Graceffa in a press release from the Ad Council. “I realized how much other people’s beliefs had held me back, and I want to let my audiences know that it’s okay to be who we are and embrace each other’s differences.”
In the video, Graceffa explained that coming out was a slow process that started with admitting to himself that he is gay. Graceffa said he first looked in a mirror and made himself say he was gay, but was filled with feelings of disgust. But he gained more confidence from there, living as a gay man and eventually gathering up the courage to tell others.
This is not the first time that Joey Graceffa has opened up about his sexuality. Back in June, he told People why he kept that part of his identity hidden from YouTube viewers for so long, and what prompted him to finally reveal that he is gay.
“I felt like I was hiding such a big part of my life. I share so much of my life with them, I felt almost like I was lying to them and I couldn’t be as open,” Graceffa said. “And then it just kind of hit me: I have this following, and I could change some people’s lives out there by being honest with who I am.”
Graceffa first told his viewers about his sexuality in May, and did so in dramatic fashion. The 24-year-old posted a music video called “Don’t Wait” that ends with Graceffa sharing a kiss with another man. For fans who didn’t understand the connection, he released a subsequent video titled, “Yes I’m Gay.”
Graceffa explained that he was asked often if he was gay, and said he used to get offended by the comments because “I just wasn’t out to myself yet.”
He came out to friends at 20, noting that another man asked him out on a date and he was excited to share the news with his sister and other close friends.
But with his life so public — Joey Graceffa has been uploading videos for the last eight years — he knew fully coming out would be a difficult step.
“There was a lot of hesitation to come out online because of growing up in my town: It wasn’t acceptable to be gay; it was looked down upon,” he told People. “And also, a lot of people used the term ‘gay’ as an insult.”
Joey Graceffa now hopes his story can inspire others who may be hesitant to come out. He has released a memoir earlier this year, and said many fans share their own stories when he meets with them.
[Image via YouTube/Joey Graceffa]