Binghamton University had the pleasure of welcoming internet superstar Tyler Oakley to campus this past Tuesday, Feb. 28. Oakley, a twitch streamer and YouTuber with over 23 million subscribers, sat down with Mansha Rahman, a freshman majoring in chemistry who serves as Q Center Student Manager and Chance Fiorisi, a sophomore majoring in political science, to talk about internet fame, queer identity and the evolving digital landscape. The event was planned by the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB).

BU students and fans of Oakley gathered in the Anderson Center’s Chamber Hall at 8 p.m. to hear the summation of his Oakley’s internet history and the realities of being a queer icon during the formative teenage era of YouTube. First, however, he diffused the room with some lighthearted jokes about his dogs and his daily “consumption of the drag race industrial complex,” creating a jovial and comical tone that he maintained for the entire event.

The moderators asked a plethora of fascinating questions that examined Oakley’s position as a role model with a large and far-reaching platform. He described the opportunities presented to him via his YouTube connections, including his 2015 book “Binge” and his stint on the reality TV show “The Amazing Race,” but also brought to light some of the hardest challenges he faced in his career.

“Creating boundaries for myself as far as, like, making sure I have a deep desire and drive to throw myself into what I love,” Oakley said. “Making sure [I] live as much as create.”

Across the board, the event was a hit among students. This included Emma Connolly, a junior majoring in history, who expressed how funny yet informative the whole experience was, and how seeing Oakley in person was a surreal experience.

“I had a great time,” Connolly said. “I grew up watching him and the people in his YouTube circle, so for him to visit [BU] was such a cool thing. He was so funny and relaxed while also having so much insight on what it’s like not only to be a YouTuber and Twitch streamer, but also a queer person on the internet.”

Oakley expanded on this idea when asked about his experience dealing with trolls, haters and homophobia online.

“It’s the easiest thing to do on the internet — to be a troll — and the hardest thing to do is to have complex nuanced perspectives and conversations,” Oakley said.

He explained how it can be difficult to remain true to one’s identity, especially when faced with hate from anonymous audiences, but how the best communities are built around those who are honest, unique and loving. When asked what advice he would give to questioning queer people, he insisted on the importance of not feeling pressured by anyone to come out before being ready.

“Be patient with yourself,” Oakley said. “That is the gift beyond all gifts. There is no rush to label yourself.”

Oakley praised the way queer rights have expanded since he was in college, but urged for vigilance and a continuation of the fight even as we see changes being made.

“I wouldn’t take it for granted how safe we all feel to be queer today, right here right now,” Oakley said. “But I would say that is more a challenge to anybody in this room that claims to be an ally than it is to the queer people here. Being an ally is not just something you get to like, wear as a — I don’t know — girl scout badge or whatever, you earn it every day when you are actively being an ally.”

Oakley ended his discussion by levying some advice to those looking to make their own way on the social media landscape. Nowadays, with sites like TikTok rising in popularity, “all social media platforms have easier accessibility” when it comes to the average person wanting to reach a large audience, so it’s easier than ever to become a creator.

“Start today,” Oakley said, to a roomful of laughter. “Start tomorrow — start tomorrow, go to bed. You find your voice by communicating … but you can’t get to that wonderful version of how you execute your social media presence unless you start somewhere. A year from now you’ll wish you started a year ago.”

The SAPB hosts important speakers every semester, and Oakley was a refreshing change of pace for multiple reasons, according to Katie Dullaghan, insights chair for SAPB and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience.

“Last semester we had a more serious speaker, which is great in a different way, but it was nice to have such a fun, light-hearted event this semester,” Dullaghan wrote in an email. “I also enjoyed how much [Oakley] spoke on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community since it probably struck home for so many of our students.”