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Ongina is one of the voices featured on Gayhub (image supplied) Ongina is one of the voices featured on Gayhub (image supplied)

Arts & Culture

Tired of being censored by YouTube?

Ongina is one of the voices featured on Gayhub (image supplied)

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I caught up with Andrew Hopkins from Gayhub to talk about why the LGBTQ community needs new platforms to help share our stories.

When did you become aware the censorship of LGBTQ voices was an issue for content creators on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram?

This LGBTQ social media platform has been a fast and furious and exciting journey that began just three months ago when I was hired by VS Media — the parent company of Gayhub — to help make this platform and vision come to life.

Prior to this role, I was vaguely aware of the issue of censorship of gay media from the news and internet, but I’m now fully informed of the censorship and the demonisation of gay media that’s occurring — specifically on YouTube.

I’ve became very passionate about providing a place where the LGBTQ community can voice uncensored opinions and views.

The technology behind a video sharing platform like YouTube is obviously really complicated — how difficult is it to establish a video-sharing platform?

Over the past three months, we recruited our 15 initial Gaylebs, collected their videos, streamlined the functionality and capability of the current site, and designed the platform.

We have a great team in place here that have made it an easy and fun process versus a complicated one. Kris Welcome is our SEO Director, John Kuper is our videographer and designer, Jeff Wilson is our Director of Business Development, Marni McClaine is our dedicated Administrative Supervisor, and I’m the Gayhub Project Manager. Over the past three months, it’s been a successful and exciting journey because of this outstanding team.

We’re already enlarging Gayhub to include a workout series with Ryan Rose, The L Word actress Elizabeth Keener is joining, I Am Cait star Chandi Moore is onboard, gay porn star Cameron Foster is doing a series on Hot Cars and Hot Bods, and a Project Runway contestant are our most recent Gayhub recruits.

What content have you launched with initially?

Our Gaylebrities are content creators. They have their own perspectives and passions to share with the world, and we simply want to give them the tools to bring their visions to life — such as Brad’s political satire talk show, or Ongina’s video diary The Ongina Monologues.

The content that we’re initially launching with is content created directly from the Gaylebrity. The content is categorised into different categories — including entertainment, politics, travel, and fashion. We’re a project that’s quickly evolving, and we have exciting plans for future content.

Will it just be video content that can be uploaded to Gayhub, or can creators use Gayhub for other forms of content as well?

We definitely want our Gaylebrities to use Gayhub for other forms of content as well. They have a timeline and, starting in August, we want them to use it to give their opinions on different issues, and as a place where they can interact with their fans. They can type out messages or post pictures and GIFs on their timeline to express themselves as well.

If Gayhub is a safe space for LGBTQ content creators, what will the limits be? Will there be porn? Nudity? Explicit discussions about sex?

We don’t allow nudity on the main platform. However, we have an adults only section with gay porn videos and gay porn channel producers. I think of it like Blockbuster back in the day. You have your mainstream videos up in the front of the store, but behind a curtain in the back, we provide adult material for our willing adult users. We don’t want to penalise the porn. We’re all adults, and pornographic content is viewed by all the same people that are watching the mainstream videos, so why not be a ‘hub’ of all gay content.

If I’m ready to launch my channel on Gayhub, how do I go about it?

If you want to be a Gaylebrity and think you would be a good fit, then please feel free to contact us with a short description of yourself along with your social media links. If you would like to be a channel producer, then do the same, and give a description of your channel along with a link to your content to be considered. We want to gain momentum and grow to 100 different LGBTQ Gaylebrity voices to give uncensored LGBTQ perspectives and views, so please apply today!

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Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men

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Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.

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What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

Follow Samer Bo on Twitter

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