The video shows several YouTubers discussing their sexualities and gender identities. It's a sweet, moving piece, and one that feels especially important in light of the tragic attack on the gay Orlando nightclub Pulse.
In a comment accompanying the clip, YouTube wrote that its video platform "is a place where anyone can belong no matter who they are or who they love," adding, "that is why today we want to help people honor and celebrate who they’re#ProudToBe." YouTube continued:
Now, more than ever, it’s important that we help accept, love, and celebrate one another. In the wake of the tragic events in Orlando, we stand together in support of the LGBTQ community… To those beautiful and brave voices who continue to make YouTube the vibrant, diverse and empathetic community it is, we are #ProudToBe with you.
YouTube invited users to upload their own videos with the hashtag #ProudToBe to join the conversation.
The video has been viewed more than 6 million times and been "liked" more than 136,000 users. Unfortunately, the latter figure is troublingly dwarfed by the amount of times the video has been disliked—more than 187,000 times as of this writing. The comments below are even more upsetting.
The negative commenters shared mostly homophobic and anti-trans messages. One person wrote: "So this is what our troops fight for… Disgusting." Another: "If I had a dollar for every gender I know of… I'd have like… 2 dollars." A third: "You're all freaks of society," and so on.
The site "We The Unicorns," which is "dedicated to bringing you all the magic from within the world of YouTube and online video," reported that the hate campaign originated on 4chan, an online message board overwhelmingly used by anonymous trolls. One Redditor explained that "Last night there were huge raid threads across all 4chan boards to mass dislike the video." A YouTuber responding to the messages offered more details:
It appears that YouTube has been struggling to remove the troubling reactions from its comment section—at least according to angry commenters who say their words have been deleted. YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how they've been handling the situation.
On other social platforms, people expressed distress over the enormous backlash to the campaign.
YouTubers are fighting back against the hate with more #ProudToBe videos.
The awful messages left by YouTube commenters are especially jarring in light of the risk LGBTQ Americans face. FBI data collected before the Orlando attack shows that "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were already the most likely targets of hate crimes in America," according to The New York Times. Online and in real life, things have got to change.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.