I’ve admired Tyler Oakley ever since the first Trevor Live and then began following his tweets and YouTube. I became a genuine fan-girl (for lack of a better word) because of his strong voice in advocating for LGBTQ equality and social rights, especially pertaining to youths, as well as other social issues like health care, education, and suicide prevention.
A big deal to me: at one point, he @replied his opinion that he was “confused and disappointed” by something Liam from One Direction had tweeted. As an invested fan of theirs, he was genuinely heartbroken at the thought that one of his idols could be homophobic. I think it took a lot of courage for him to put his truth out there like that. Many fans of the band, even some of his own fans, were furious, attacking Tyler, on social media and on the road, verbally, physically and even went as far as death threats. His loyal followers stayed around but he also lost a lot. But he stood behind his belief.
In this very candid memoir, the story of his life begins at the very beginning; the readers find out that Tyler is not his real name, it’s Mathew. His style is straight and honest and I enjoyed how it felt as if he were speaking directly to me; as if, even though I was only one of many, I was part of some chosen group that gets to know all the secrets. He speaks very frankly about sex (his partners and desires), but not in graphic detail, his drinking/drug use, his bodily functions, which includes very honest and humbling confessions about eating disorders (there’s a lot of poop talk) and feelings of depression, shame and self-loathing.
The story goes through details about his childhood, pre-adolescent, adulthood, and to present day. He discusses, seriously, his self-image distortion, how he’s addicted to control, what it’s like growing up poor (discount lunches and hand-me-downs), his anxiety surrounding birthdays, holidays and families, his many jobs and how they shaped his personality, his broken home life, his father’s homophobia, his place in the political climate, and details of an abusive romantic relationship.
Mixed in are lighthearted, funny subjects such as his feelings about certain Disney princes (top 10), his dreams of Darren Criss (one of my favorites as well), pot brownies, his blurple glasses, psycho babble, why they called him the granny whisperer, and details of his many theater performances from elementary to high school (his favorite was The importance of being Ernest). His words are deliberate and frank as he explains how a choir teacher saved him, how he came upon YouTube and becoming an international sensation, and so much more. If you want to know EVERYTHING, you’ll have to read it to find out.
What I believe is his theme? Embrace the flaws, find balance in the chaos. His binges sometimes happened for good, sometimes not, but he certainly affirms that he doesn’t regret any of his experiences.
I found his strong work ethic impressive, especially given that he found that, even though he’s constantly among literally millions of people, he feels that his is a solitary profession. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the many facets of the man that is Tyler Oakley. Getting somewhat inside his mind on a more personal level, what do they say, I laughed, I cried? Yes, all of that. And I felt a lot of the same emotions as he did growing up and even in his adult life. I applaud his sincerity and openness. Ironically, he never thought he had anything important to say. In my honest opinion, a must read.