Ashley Mardell wants you to feel valid, no matter who you are or how you identify.
Four years ago, Ashley Mardell decided to come out in a YouTube video. Now, Ashley has taken the Internet by storm and proven that LGBTQ+ education (and also sometimes super cute queer relationship videos) doesn’t have to be boring. I was lucky enough to get to sit down with Ashley and ask a few questions about what it’s like to be queer in the public eye.
First, can you tell me about yourself? Your identity? Your YouTube channel? Your mission?
I’m Ashley, and I’m a queer youtuber whose channel focuses on LGBT+ visibility, advocacy and education. My personal identity includes being pansexual and non-binary. My mission on YouTube is to acknowledge and validate the diverse array of identities in the LGBT+ community.
What was your experience like coming out before YouTube?
Closeted. I came out in college, and before that, in high school, I had all straight friends, pretended I was straight, and did everything I could to repress my thoughts about the same gender. My school was not very progressive and I felt like if I came out I’d be judged and ostracized.
You speak openly on your channel about being pansexual. How has being queer in the public eye affected your life? When/how did you decide to come out online and what was that experience like?
I decided to come out 4 years ago online, because I was tired of hiding a huge part of myself. So far the experience has been very positive, I’ve found purpose and passion in educating and connecting with others in the LGBT+ community
You also make videos about sexuality and gender, has this changed the way people treat you in real life? What is it like to be a recognized sexuality educator?
People in real life come to me more with questions. Usually it’s very cool and I’m excited they want to learn! However sometimes it feels like a hefty amount of pressure. You have a lot of responsibly when you’re educating to get things right, and sometimes the pressure and responsibility can feel a bit overwhelming.
You also speak frequently about gender expression, specifically about your choice to cut your hair (ICYMI, Ashley has a dope purple pixie). What was it like to make that decision and how has it affected your life since?
It was a very scary decision! My hair was more than just hair, it was a metaphor for expressing how I felt was authentically me. When I cut my hair I felt like I was being totally vulnerable about my identity with everyone who saw me after the haircut. It was one of the best decisions of my life though. I have never felt more myself.