Photo courtesy of Alayna Fender
“Hey guys *cough*!” is Alayna Fender’s well-known intro to her videos on her channel MissFenderr.
Because June is Pride month, we thought it would be cool to chat with some creatives in the LGBTQ+ community. Today, we’re talking with YouTuber Alayna Fender. Alayna has been on YouTube for 6 years, tackling topics such as sexuality, gender, mental health and more! One of her more popular videos on her channel come from her ‘I don’t Bi it’ series where she sits down with other members of the LGBTQ+ community and discuss different topics within the sexuality and gender spectrum.
How did the idea for the ‘I don’t Bi it’ series come about?
Alayna: After coming out as bi myself, I began to see a lot of myths and misconceptions about being bi, and bisexuality in general. I saw how real biphobia was, both in the straight and LGBTQ communities. When I was thinking about this one day, the idea came to me: “wouldn’t it be funny to make a video interviewing my partner, where I act as if I believe all these negative stereotypes”. And I Don’t Bi It was born!
How do you choose which guests you are going to have on your ‘I don’t Bi it’ series?
Alayna: The idea behind the series is that it’s both comedy and education. I want people to laugh, and see how ridiculous some of these beliefs are, while also learning something about the community they may not have known before. So I basically try to find guests who I have chemistry with, who are a part of the LGBTQ community, and are willing to let me “roast” them in a way. I’m also always looking for different parts of the community. I want to give voice to different sexual and gender identities. Yes, on the show, I ask pretty… awful? questions, but at the same time, the guest is able to respond. They have a chance to explain to me why I’m wrong. And that’s where the education piece comes in!
What topic do you want to tackle next on an episode of ‘I don’t Bi it’?
Alayna: I’m really looking forward to tackling the “Trans Bathroom Laws”. I have plans to shoot an episode with one of my trans friends all about being able, or unable, to use the proper bathroom as a trans person.
Why is it so important for you to educate others on different types of sexualities, genders, etc? (Also) Why choose comedy to educate people on some of these topics?
Alayna: Comedy is accessible. It’s light. People respond well to comedy. If I were to simply be making videos explaining (or trying to explain) to people why their views might be harmful or incorrect, people’s defenses go up. I’m not there telling anyone what is right and what is wrong, I’m there highlighting some beliefs that actually exist, and hopefully showing the ridiculousness of them. And my guest is there to share their actual, real life, lived experience. I believe it’s a less confrontational way to help people question their own biases or stereotypes they hold.
Education of ourselves and others is the most important factor in progression. I want to bring people together, not divide us into categories. I hope that by interviewing and talking with all sorts of different people, my audience will begin to empathise with more sorts of people than they may have otherwise empathised with.
What have your thoughts been more recently after your ‘YouTube is back at it again’ video about YouTube restricting LGBTQ+ content?
Alayna: Well I can start this one off by saying, LGBTQ CONTENT IS FAMILY AND ADVERTISER FRIENDLY. Making a sweeping judgement call (using an algorithm or other filtering methods) and tagging any and all LGBTQ content as “restricted” or “not advertiser friendly” is sending the message that it is okay to leave us behind. That it is okay to discriminate against us in the workplace. That being queer is not safe for children. Which is just completely insane.
YouTube says that they are working to fix this issue, and in terms of the restricted mode I believe they are. They have unrestricted LGBTQ videos when asked to do so. However, I’m still at a loss for words regarding the pulling of advertisements.
Could you tell us a little bit more about the Vancouver mindful self-compassion workshop? How has the experience been teaching the course?
Alayna: Sure! I teach an 8-week mindfulness and self-compassion course called “Mindful Self-Compassion”. The course was created by Christopher Germer and Kristen Neff, two pioneers in mindfulness and self-compassion research, through the University of San Diego Centre for Mindfulness! Teaching the course has been transformative. I feel like I learn from my students as much as I teach them.
Are you going to any Pride Parades this month of June? And one of your subscribers wanted to know what would you wear to a Pride Parade if you were attending?
Alayna: I’m actually going to quite a few Pride events this year! I will be at LA Pride in West Hollywood, San Francisco Pride, and World Pride in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia! Later on in the year I plan to attend Vancouver Pride as well. I’ll definitely be wearing my newest merchandise! One shirt says “HOMO (sapien)”, and another reads, “Play for both teams and you always win!”
What is it like shattering a lot of misconceptions about bisexuality? Does it become annoying at some point having to ‘explain yourself’ in some ways?
Alayna: It’s awesome! Anytime I see a comment where someone says that they’ve been given a new perspective, or they now understand an issue surrounding sexuality that they didn’t understand before, it’s a beautiful moment. I think that bisexuality has been a huge part of the conversation recently, and I’m having to ‘explain myself’ less and less!
A subscriber wanted to know whether it was harder to tackle biphobia from straight people or a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
Alayna: I don’t think either group completely understands bisexuality for what it is. In my experience, neither has it quite right. Honestly, the straight community has been more accepting of my bisexuality, and I tend to get more flack from within the LGBTQ community itself. In my experience, the straight community finds bisexuality interesting, and they approach me with curiosity. Whereas sometimes, members of the LGBTQ community approach bisexuality with a level of distrust. Within the community, I feel the need to ‘prove’ my sexuality, to prove that I am ‘gay enough’.
Recently your channel has grown to become a platform where you can also share your vegan lifestyle, what other things would you experiment with putting on your channel in the future?
Alayna: I’m experimenting with adding more lifestyle videos onto my channel! That includes things like veganism, skincare, beauty, my routines, etc. There is a lot more to my life than my sexuality and my mental health, and I’d like to share those other aspects as well.
You have helped a lot of people to figure themselves out more regarding sexuality, and have even helped some of your subscribers to know that they are not alone in the journey of figuring out their sexuality and loving themselves more. How does it feel to know that you are helping someone through their coming out journey?
Alayna: Wow, well thank you for saying that. The only word that comes to mind is “honoured”. I am honoured to be a part of anyone’s journey. Hearing that I’ve had any sort of positive impact brings just as much light to my life as it may to others!