LGBTQ+ Activist Spotlight: How Alexis Arrington turned her favorite topic of conversation into an educational web series
“Everyone’s Gay: A Look into Queer History” tells the story of LGBTQ+ icons across decades
American University senior Alexis Arrington enjoys talking about queer history. But, while quarantining at home, she found herself unable to talk about it without her normal audience of friends and classmates. So, Arrington decided to turn her casual conversations into a web series — “Everyone’s Gay: A Look into Queer History.”
The justice and law major launched her web series in May and released the first season of educational videos throughout the summer. The 21 short episodes feature the lives and legacies of LGBTQ+ icons like James Baldwin, Cleve Jones and the Lavender Menace group.
Arrington said the content mainly comes from the classes she’s taken at AU. Her first episode, titled “How WWII Changed Everything,” explored the group consciousness and unofficial “gay hubs” established in port cities during the early 40s.
“I got the idea to start there mostly because in the queer history classes I’ve taken on campus, that is where they start,” Arrington said. “It’s a natural starting place for when you’re looking at queer America and it also leads into so many other things.”
Arrington also uses social media to share LGBTQ+ history. She posted on Instagram Thursday to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. She also features “On this day in Queer History” posts on her Instagram story.
Part of her journey to share queer history is an homage to a movement that has paved revolutionary paths for people like her, Arrington said.
“You don’t realize how many steps have been taken to get to even where we are today,” Arrington said. “It's not perfect, we're not where we need to end up, but we've done so much and to honor that history is to also influence future movements.”
She said she also caters her content to follow current topics. When Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, Arrington focused on Black queer icons, two examples being Audre Lorde and Bayard Rustin.
When it comes to preparing for the videos, Arrington said the process is like writing a research paper. She gathers reputable sources, builds background information and writes a script. Talking to the camera is not something she had a lot of prior experience with, but lots of practice and bloopers helped, Arrington said.
Though she hasn’t posted on YouTube since season one wrapped up at the end of the summer, Arrington has big plans. She plans to launch season two in December and wants to feature LGBTQ+ celebrities like Chely Wright, an openly gay country singer who was ostracized from the industry after coming out.
In whatever avenue she teaches queer history, Arrington said she wants to help people learn that the queer rights movement is complex, intersectional and most of all, human.
“When you know a history of a group of people, you start to kind of humanize them,” she said. “In our society, you see a lot of people who are discriminated against, especially in the queer community, just because people don't understand things.”