“As a Gay man, I can’t mention how many times I’ve been a victim of homophobia in this industry.” Arend Richard makes a shocking statement in his recent podcast

Despite living in a relatively inclusive age, the belief that times and circumstances have changed for queer people is still very vague. People identifying as a part of the LGBTQ community still face backlash for simply staying true to their identities. Every new day we are raising our voice against some mob lynching incident, a murder, assault, harassment attempt made to our fellow humans just because of their sexual orientation. The LGBTQ communities, in a larger part of the world, are living in imminent danger from state-tolerated anti-gay terror – to date. These circumstances are the actual reality of thousands of people living around the world. They are not considered normal people, let alone human.

Almost in 71 countries, identifying as an LGBTQ+ person makes you a criminal and in 11 of them, the punishment is a death sentence. The discrimination against the queer folk has surely lessened, but it doesn’t mean that it has vanished entirely from the face of the planet. Especially in more progressive industries like entertainment, arts, and content creation, the bias is very much present – that too in full force.

Arend Richard, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Weedtube who was formerly known as “The Gay stoner” on YouTube, was removed from the online video sharing social platform; for sharing cannabis-related content. Arend had over 190,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel when his channel got banned in February 2018. His channel was an educational outlet for people who struggled with chronic illnesses and marijuana was their only reliable source of relive for them. More so, being gay, Arend also talked about things and topics that mattered to his community, their health, marijuana usage and the stigmas associated with it. The Gay Stoner’s content was a big pile of content that went against the policies of YouTube.

In his recent podcast on Arend said, “I have been a victim of homophobia many times that I can’t even remember.” Being a young 15 years old boy, Arend sure was a confused teenager who wanted to discover his identity and make a name of his own in this estranged world of discrimination and homophobia. He wanted to make friends, be appreciated, and live a happy and peaceful life – unlike the presumed LGBTQ+ outcasts. Arend grew up listening to homophobic stories and later experienced quite a few incidents on his own too. Think what this kind of trauma would do to a young 15-year-old mind, who is already figuring out his own identity.

Arend’s remarks might come as a surprise (or offense) to few, but it is one harsh reality of the entertainment industry. Times have passed, and people have progressed, but the discrimination is still very much there.

Another such incident happened back in 2019 that saddened the fraternity, coming from such a famous star. Logan Paul made a statement against the gay community stating, “he wants to ‘go gay’ for a month,’ – as if “going-gay” is a stunt or so. Arend Richard condemned Paul’s insulting remark and took it upon himself to respond to his words. He wrote, “Paul we don’t want you.”

Arend spoke on the behalf of his community and took a stand by making a statement. His stance was appreciated by the entire LGBTQ community. For years, Arend has come forward as a significant voice, speaking for things that matter and leave an impact.

When YouTube banned Arend’s channel “The Gay Stoner” due to posting cannabis-related content, which essentially didn’t go with the community guidelines of the platform, he didn’t stand down. Arend took a leap of faith and founded Weedtube, which is currently the largest social media platform for cannabis-centric content.

He is the one who change the perception of so many judgmental eyes and started a safe house for cannabis users because that’s what helped him cure his chronic blood cell disorder. He loved how cannabis helped him change his life. Waking up daily along with depression and intrusive thoughts without any hope and future plans, Arend’s life was full of anxiety and hopelessness. His identity made him feel left out and degraded. The start of Weedtube was a new beginning for him. He decided to build a community of like-minded people, who love, accept, and appreciate others without any discrimination.

Arend used his platform to shed light on homophobic discrimination and crimes against sexuality. He raised his voice against the bisexual mistreatment in Chechnya in 2017 and when the Chechnya President denied the act, he called his statement “devilish.” It took lots of courage for Arend to overcome the effects of hate speech and discrimination. He faced them with nerve and become a gay entrepreneur, standing up for his community.

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