Fans of classic YouTubers like Jenna Marbles and Shane Dawson have coped with the evolution of their channels over the past decade. Humor and preferences change after 10 years, for better or worse, and fans have no choice but to follow along or unsubscribe.
Our relationships with the internet icons from our formative middle school years are complicated, to say the least. Some of you ran Tumblr or Twitter accounts dedicated to your favorites (yeah, I didn’t forget). Even if you were not getting notified after every upload, many of us still have memories of laughing with friends over dumb humor and parody videos. We may cringe looking back, but there is an undeniable nostalgia that accompanies the creators that made YouTube the place to be in 2013.
Since we value the connection we have with those creators, any changes they make to their lives feel personal. No matter how big or small, we cry when they become “unrelatable” or “fake” after success.
YouTuber Haley Pham started out making vlogs at dance competitions and filming challenge videos. She now shows what it is like being engaged at 19 years old and living with her fiance while they purchase a multimillion dollar mansion. Members of the beauty community often receive criticism regarding their relatability. Once they start reviewing makeup sent to them for free by PR companies, they can no longer be trusted to say how the average viewer should spend their money.
While these are valid complaints in many instances, some YouTubers simply abandon an old internet persona in favor of a new one. Their channels often document how they grow as people. Few, though, have had a transformation as extreme and controversial as Anthony Quintal.
The YouTuber most famously known by the moniker “Lohanthony” was once a massively popular creator on the platform. I still often sing his old intro, “Lohanthony’s video of the wee-ee-eeeek,” in my head. The first video of his I ever saw featured his bright, outlandish personality paired with an outfit that included bright green leggings, pink suspenders and blue square-shaped sunglasses.
The persona of Lohanthony was emblematic of Tumblr and internet culture back in the early 2010s. His videos covered topics such as his love for Lana Del Rey and just generally being silly on the internet.
Now 21 years old, he has laid his old identity of “littlest big diva” to rest and completely rebranded in a way that no one saw coming.
Lohanthony dropped the intro to his new podcast entitled “Christ is Key” on Monday. This is just a smidge different from his iconic persona you may have loved years ago. He now uses his following across social media platforms to spread his beliefs on Christianity.
Lohanthony was an openly gay teenager and an advocate for LGBTQ rights. At 16, he called RuPaul his biggest role model. His channel’s cultural commentary, often filmed in a lowkey setting on his bedroom floor, was easy entertainment for middle schoolers. He normalized having struggles as a teenager and often alluded to a rocky relationship with his dad.
Memories of those old days were wiped from his channel, which was crushing to many old fans, including myself. Back in August, he posted a YouTube video titled “why Christ? — my testimony to Jesus.” He also announced he had progressed past what he called “sexual immorality” to live a life of “Christian celibacy.” He renounced his gay relationships, which he believes were a result of sexual abuse he experienced as a child.
Outside of YouTube, his Twitter is filled with various links and retweets regarding people’s experiences as Christians and the importance of religion. Even his Spotify includes religious playlists, but Britney Spears — of whom he was known to be a big fan years ago — is still included.
Lohanthony was once a role model for teenagers, especially those who may have been grappling with understanding their sexuality. His delivery was unapologetic. If you didn’t like his in-your-face content, that was fine. You didn’t need to join the community and subscribe. Even for fans who did not share his experience regarding sexuality, his confidence was important for young viewers.
Fans are now in an uncomfortable position. Creators can use their platforms to spread what they wish. In any other instance, a viewer can do what many people did to Lohanthony years ago: unsubscribe because the content is not appealing to them. Religion makes this more complicated.
There is, unfortunately, no way for fans to know the right thing to do. Unsubscribing and unfollowing shames him for his religion, but continuing to support him condones potentially dangerous behavior.
Lohanthony has insisted that he did not go to conversion therapy and is not homophobic. Instead, he claims to be making a personal choice to pursue God and reject his old “lifestyle.” He has crafted his videos in a way that does not outwardly preach hate or judgement onto others. He only criticizes his own actions.
“I apologize for the hurt I caused with my videos regarding my celibacy, regarding my sobriety, regarding being saved by Lord Jesus Christ,” he said in one recent video.
Many have still expressed concern on Twitter regarding his mental health despite his promises. It is hard to believe that he could once again become the kind of influencer he once was, given this change.
No one warned us years ago that our favorite creators would possibly abandon everything we once loved about them and inadvertently hurt us in the process. As for “Christ is Key,” it will hopefully give fans a deeper look into Lohanthony’s religious beliefs and provide more insight into one of the most extreme YouTuber “rebrands” in recent years.