Being inspired keeps up alive. And YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous, currently clocking 2.2 million followers on the video platform and 2 million on Insta, is nothing short of inspiring. Born Gregory Lazzarato, the middle of three brothers, Gigi began sharing YouTube videos from her bedroom in Toronto in 2008. They were confessionals, makeup tutorials, and normal goofy videos with high school friends. At the time Gigi identified as a gay male, receiving support from both her parents. Her brothers appeared in videos alongside her as well.
For a 14-year-old, Catholic school kid in Toronto, she says YouTube was “an amazing outlet,” and like we hear from so many bloggers, it was a creative space where she nestled into an online community.
“I found so many people online through my comment section who were like me, and I think that’s what is so amazing about YouTube. You can type in any topic and find it— it makes you feel like you’re not alone.”
The first YouTuber Gigi watched online was Michelle Phan, “pre-empire,” when she doing makeup tutorials. “That’s what got me started, I was a huge fan of her, I started making videos and grew a community from there.”
It was after losing her mother to cancer that Gigi posted a video officially identifying as transgender. That was December 2013. She had spent the year prior not posting anything too personal to the channel. It was a move she recognized as not “fair to her fans,” later citing one of the reasons as wanting to “keep being the person that they loved.” In perfect makeup and fuzzy blue sweater she told her audience, “I’ve done some soul searching… I’m not the same person I was when I started my YouTube channel. It’s still my heart, it’s still my body, it’s still my mind, I’m just choosing to be identified as a different gender.”
It was an exercise in self love that she calls “successful and freeing.”
“Obviously not everyone has had as dramatic an experience as transitioning to another gender, but everyone is under pressure, everyone doubts themselves.”
Looking back at her 14-year-old self she says, “I was so out there and unapologetic. I was in my own world, which I kind of still am. I was having fun.”
Fun is a lot of what Gigi has online, from answering fan questions to blindfold taste tests with Kylie Jenner, but she draws a fairly definitive line between her online personality and off. She’s always honest and forthcoming, but also acknowledges she hasn’t always shown an emotional side. For some it might be hard to imagine that Gigi, who has shared endless personal stories and laughs with her viewers, could share more. However this fall, she is, with a forthcoming documentary that follows her transition.
Gigi says she’s “over the moon” about the release while also recognizing, “It’s the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done. It wasn’t just months. It’s years of footage and I’m sharing things that are so personal.”
The documentary will show an “in depth” view of her transition, “sadness, happy parts— there are tears,” she says. “I go into aspects of my life that I’ve never touched on on my YouTube channel: family, relationships, really going in depth with my transition, whatever you haven’t seen on my YouTube channel, you’ll see in the documentary.”
It was a move she was hesitant to make and admits to being nervous about the camera crew following her around. “I do like to keep myself somewhat private, and online, making videos from my bedroom I have control over that. It was nerve-wracking but it was freeing,” she says.
“I think a lot of people watch my channel and think that everything is perfect, but the documentary shows that I am just like everybody else and I’ve gone through a really hard time.”
Still a hard time hasn’t slowed her down. She’s spent almost a decade in front of the camera. She edits all her own videos. She’s taken acting classes and made a few moves in the world of cinema. As to who she wants to work with? “Any major star would be amazing,” she says. “I really love acting.” But she’s also broken barriers, working with major brands like Pantene and Crest- what she calls “pinch me moments.” “When I signed the deal for the Crest campaign for 3D White, I bawled my eyes out to my dad, but it shows what you put in, is what you get out.” She’d love to work with MAC cosmetics, she says “for the same reason I use the products every day. I’m never going to work with someone that doesn’t align with me. It was the first makeup I ever bought as a young teenager, and that was a huge moment. I love their brand through and through.”
At the end of the day Gigi’s dreams “are to be happy,” adding, “I think everyone can relate to that.” As a role model for the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ youth, Gigi also serves as a role model to anyone who has ever felt alone, confused— human, really. Again, thinking back on her younger self she says, “I would tell myself to be strong. You’re going to get shutdown and feel alone and depressed, but I would also applaud myself.”
“If you’re feeling alone or not accepted, turn to YouTube, find a group of people or a community online, or in real life if you can, where people love and accept you for you,” she says. “No one is alone. I definitely felt alone, but love yourself and find people around that support you.”
Standing ovation is more like it.
Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate’s editorial director. Follow her @ariannawrotethis.
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