They/Themming It Up at VidCon Anaheim 2024

vidcon 2024 in anaheim, vidcon sign next to youtube billboards and a person with a giant bear plushie
VidCon Anaheim 2024

I just got back from VidCon in sunny Anaheim, California. In case you’re unfamiliar, VidCon is the go-to annual convention for creators to meet fans, rub shoulders with marketers, and party.

Daily panels discuss the biggest (brand-friendliest) stars and topics of the creator economy. It takes place in Anaheim every summer, with a new convention added in Baltimore in September 2023.

Overall, the 2024 Cali VidCon felt similar to last year’s. Brands like e.l.f. and Fanta tried to sell children things they don’t need. AI was still a hot topic. And many industry panelists preached “scaling” your business (aka chasing endless growth) as the next big thing. 

By contrast, elsewhere at the convention, creators complained about burnout, toxic work cultures, and various companies screwing them over. It’s worth noting how far apart these two sides of the creator economy are.

The only difference between VidCon Anaheim in 2024 versus 2023 that I can think of is TikTok, now facing an impending potential ban in the United States, was dethroned by YouTube as the convention’s title sponsor.

Still, TikTok showed up in full force with an invite-only party and activation, specifically trying to promote long-form videos. 


When creators, community and trends come together … it’s a party! The TikTok creator community showed up and showed out at the TikTok Destination: Creation creator party at @VidCon. #TikTokVidCon

♬ original sound – tiktok creators

As far as fandom goes, Minecraft is still king. Last year, the Dream team was the crew with the most fervent gaggle of screaming kiddos. But this year, it seemed like Aphmau was the new it girl for teens, tweens, and toddlers. Lines wrapped around the convention hall for her plushie toys (aka MeeMeows).

Other old-school creators, like MatPat and Hank Green, also drew a lot of attention. Mostly from smaller creators who looked to them as a source of career inspiration.

VidCon invited me to moderate two panels — one called “Breaking Boundaries: Amplifying LGBTQ+ Voices” and the other called “Beyond the Binary,” which was about non-binary and gender non-conforming creators. Both were, in theory, about diversity, representation, and self-discovery in the “digital sphere.” 

On the panels, some of the best LGBTQ+ creators in the biz (V Spehar, Spencewuah, Naomi Hearts, Bryce Xavier, Mercury Stardust, FunkyFrogBait, soupytime, Lindsay Nikole, you were all amazing 💐 great to meet you) chatted about self-expression, coping with bigotry, responding to trolls and negativity.

We also discussed what the LGBTQ+ community and the wider world can do to support queer creators better. Creators specifically urged audience members to be more accepting of people questioning or experimenting with their gender identity and sexuality.

creators soupytime, mercury stardust, and lindsay nikole speaking on panel next to moderator grace stanley
soupytime, Mercury Stardust, Lindsay Nikole, and me!

As far as industry complaints go, creators discussed unjust social media bans on LGTBQ+ creators and criticized brands for not working with creators beyond Pride Month (Mercury Stardust had a great tip to require 3+ month contracts when brands reach out to you during June.) Creators also discussed brands not supporting creators after weaponizing them in an incredibly hostile political environment (we will never forgive you Bud Light).

However, one sentiment in both panels was that creators didn’t want to be tokenized or boiled down to just their LGBTQ+ identity. A couple of creators on the “Breaking the Binary” panel noted that VidCon only (or primarily) invited them to speak on LGBTQ+ panels and not on panels related to any of the other content niches they are a part of — fashion, beauty, comedy, DIY projects, etc, etc. 

Creators like V Spehar, Mercury Stardust, and Naomi Hearts noted that their LGBTQ+ identity was just one small part of themselves — and professionally, it’s not necessarily the only part of themselves they wanted to be known as. 

Furthermore, one creator, FunkyFrogBait, made the point that mostly LGBTQ+-friendly people would come to a pride-themed panel. In other words, representation on other industry stages (like a YouTube commentary panel or comedy event they were also invited to) is what makes a difference in normalizing queer relationships and identities.

Still, there was an overriding sentiment that wow it was a really good thing we were there. We were all pretty sure VidCon had never held a panel for non-binary people before. The thought that we could be breaking the industry mold felt special.

Elsewhere at VidCon, Passionfruit also had a party, and it was a great time to get to know a bunch of extraordinary human beings making cool things on the internet. It was also great to commiserate on some of the industry’s struggles. And most of all, it was great to celebrate the talents, successes, and strengths of LGBTQ+ creators during Pride Month. 

Anyways, thanks for the invite, VidCon. I had a great time. And for all the L, G, B, T, and Qs out there, happy end of June. Year-round, remember what one wise TikToker once said: Be who you are. For your pride

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