Kat Blaque is a YouTuber known for her personal, honest, and educational video blogs that delve into complex topics, including kink, BDSM, polyamory, transness, Blackness, and surviving sexual assault and grooming.
Blaque started blogging when she was only 15 years old, finding solace in posting a personal diary to an online community of people who had similar experiences as her. She developed a bit of an audience, who suggested she get a webcam, and soon her blogs turned into videos on the then-new platform YouTube.
Blaque said she first rose to popularity for her straightforward, educational videos on animation, a subject she studied in college. However, changes in her personal life led her to be less “vanilla” and share more about herself and controversial topics, eventually starting a popular unscripted segment called “True Tea” wherein she discusses various topics and responds to audience questions and discourse.
Now, around 17 years later and with an ever-evolving audience, Blaque is a well-known figure in the creator world for pushing forward thoughtful conversations on a variety of often-stigmatized or underrepresented subjects. She has over 452,000 followers on YouTube; hundreds of thousands more across Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok; over 1,400 paying subscribers on Patreon; has turned True Tea into a podcast; and regularly speaks at panels and events.
This weekend, Blaque spoke on multiple panels at the video creator convention VidCon, discussing topics like cultural appropriation, cyberbullying, and Black and LGBTQ+ representation.
Backstage, Blaque caught up with us about the evolution of her content style; her ever-shifting audience; why she hates algorithmically-driven social media platforms; why she doesn’t really think about monetization as a creator; hope amidst political frustration; and more.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How has your personal style of content changed over time?
Well, I started when I was 15. Back then, YouTube was not what it is now. It was basically just a website where you posted videos, you know, usually videos that you would send to your friends and family and no one really else…It was more like, you know, akin to a Facebook page or MySpace page. My early stuff really focused on me wanting to pursue a career in animation. So I would blog a lot about that, and I had a really small audience back then. It was like a small but dedicated audience, like maybe a hundred people.
I became more popular on YouTube during a time when I was making very straightforward educational content…for a while, my audience didn’t know anything about me as a person, I was just more of a talking head. Then, I had like a lot of life changes…I was in a very monogamous, vanilla, hetero, normative relationship…a lot of my online persona was like a reflection of that. I had a very modest style. As I got out of that relationship, I came to Los Angeles and realized that I wanted to not be that anymore. I changed a lot and it became really important for me to have more personal conversations. And so that’s kind of when my stuff really shifted.
I started speaking openly about my experience with rape, sexual violence, and that stuff, because I feel like my big thing on YouTube is always kind of like voicing things that are not often discussed, giving a face to people who are often misunderstood.
How has your audience shifted over time?
I find that a lot of times when I’ve shifted my direction, I alienate at least a section of my audience. I kind of feel like if you start following me now, you know, give it like two years, the content I’m making is probably not gonna be what you like. But, you know, at the same time, because I’ve been a YouTuber since I was 15 years old, now at 31, I’m a different person—and so I kind of have had to shift my content.
I spent a lot of time creating content with my audience very heavily in mind. I’m still kind of doing that, but I realized how much that was kind of stifling my creativity…I often have felt like if I don’t do like overtly political stuff, that’s not gonna be interesting to people, but I often have to remind myself that by virtue of me existing, driving, and doing things, in so many ways that is very radical.
What are your favorite social media platforms and least favorite?
There are criticisms you can always make, but I like YouTube a lot. It’s funny, I’ve been enjoying Discord a lot, but mostly because Discord doesn’t have a feed, you know? So it’s kind of a bit more curated. I get to kind of have the conversations I want to have. In general, social media frustrates me because it’s so algorithmically driven. And when you really study that, you realize that sometimes you end up getting stuck in these bubbles of conversation.
It’s been interesting to observe that during the pandemic because there’s definitely people who heard one thing and got one impression and then that turned into factual belief, even if it wasn’t and because they keep seeing the same thing over and over and over again, it gets more solidified in their mind as a true thing. So that’s concerning to me and I’m not a crazy fan of that.
So most social media bothers me.
In terms of making a living, how has your career evolved over time?
I’m not a person who really sits down and creates content thinking about monetization. So it’s never a very conscious thing, but obviously, I have to feed myself…I’ve been secure on Patreon for so long that I should probably be more conscious about monetization and think a bit more strategically about it, but I don’t. Part of me being here is learning how to do that better.
I learned early on that I can’t rely on just one stream of income. So you know, I do speaking on top of YouTube; I sell merch; Patreon; sponsors. I learned pretty early on that if this is going through my career and I’m gonna take it like that, I do need to have multiple streams of income.
What are the challenges of talking about taxing subjects, like sexual assault, in a public way? How do you cope with that?
There are times when it gets sensitive. Like I did a video a couple of years ago about Ron Jeremy because I had an experience where he sexually assaulted me…the way the video was framed, was like, I’m not trying to cancel him. It was like, hey, this happened. This is just a true thing. But the reaction was really hard because I was not expecting there to be so many fucking Ron Jeremy fanboys.
How do I react to it? You know, I’m the kind of person who I do believe in, at least now, not withholding emotion. And so I cried for a bit and I got over it. And I had to talk to some people about it. And unfortunately, there’s a club of us now who have been assaulted by him. I was able to find a kind of sisterhood with them. We filmed a documentary for ABC a couple of years ago about it, and it actually just recently came out.
That was kind of, you know, that’s kind of how I dealt with it. And honestly, part of what I enjoy about my platform is that it is a place where survivors can come and speak about their own complex experiences.
The reality is I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life and I kind of continue to have the rough conversations I have because I know I can handle it, you know, more than a lot of other people can…I don’t know if I wanna say it’s my duty, but I’ve often felt like that on YouTube where, like, no one’s talking about this and I have this experience. And so I really want to talk about it and to give voice to it.
Some content creators who create political content have expressed feeling disillusioned in recent years. Do you ever feel hopeless, or would you consider yourself more hopeful in your work?
I have a very complex answer to that question because, you know, I’ve been doing this for so long, starting in 2005, and I’ve seen a lot of things change. Especially when it comes to trans folks, I’ve seen a lot of the way that people feel shift and move. And I will say that one of the frustrating things about it is that I’ve been talking about this stuff for so long and especially more recently, it kind of feels like things haven’t changed all that much.
But when it comes to impact, you know, I had an experience where I did a video with BuzzFeed. And during the time I did the video with BuzzFeed, I was stealth. You know, I was like, ‘who’s gonna watch this BuzzFeed video?’ But then, it outed me to everyone, you know, because of course people were gonna watch the video. I had an experience where, because of that , was displaced from where I was living. They kicked me out because I am trans.
At that point, I kind of regretted it, but then I was ultimately happy that I did it. A couple of years ago, I was giving a speech at the University of Colorado Boulder. And there was like a little trans guy who walked up to me and said, that video you did with BuzzFeed helped me understand that I was transgender.
And so when I think of the impact, even if it’s one person like that, that’s good. You know, I might not be able to change everybody’s mind. As an extension of my survival, sometimes I have to stomach the ‘fact that things are shitty’ mentality. I think that sometimes is reflected in my work, but I try to be a bit more hopeful, you know, I never wanna get to the point where I’m like, it’s never gonna get better. Let’s all just kind of give up. In many ways, it’s kind of more important to think about the people who do hear what you’re saying.
Thank you, Kat, for speaking with us!