Arielle Scarcella's Fall From Grace
Scarcella's hard swing to the right foreshadows the end of "Queer YouTube" as we know it
Being a queer content creator in the earliest days of YouTube was considered a a novelty. Back when posting a “coming out” video was reason enough for widespread media coverage, LGBT+ creators felt they had to naturally conform a script of talking about their daily plights to what seemed like a small niche at the time. Some have been able to seamlessly transition back into the broader world of YouTube, but others have opted to cultivate an entirely-different niche, which in the case of some has been to let personal political ideology define more of their creative output.
For many, this meant becoming a part of BreadTube, but there are exceptions to every trend, and Arielle Scarcella happens to be one–once dubbed “Sex-Ed Queen” by the New York Times, her content warranted praise from audiences and fellow creators alike for daring to explore the complexities of lesbian relationships in a world where it seemed like people’s only exposure to that dynamic in pop culture is through Ellen DeGeneres. She followed the script of steady growth to the letter, tallying an impressive number of collaborations and cross-promotional opportunities, and is now on track to further grow her audience by documenting her journey out of the progressive left, into the uncharted lands of conservative ideology.
This might be a tad hard to grasp for the politically uninitiated — especially given how conservatives are openly hostile to queer people — but conservatism carries a certain quality of contrarianism that is appealing to queers who feel alienated by the progressive left. For Scarcella, that transition started with adopting trans-exclusionary radical feminism, in which she bemoans the idea of trans women — who she deems as unchangeably masculine — having intercourse with cis women and that being dubbed anything other than a heterosexual relationship. For the trans-exclusionary crowd — especially its queer variety — it is an encroachment on the sanctity of gay relationships that have been traditionally defined on binary terms to finally be perceived more fluidly, and it created the perfect conditions for Scarcella to steer clear of the progressive left and align her views more-closely with the current conservative apparatus.
After the United States finally gave in to marriage equality in a landmark Supreme Court decision back in 2015, the parameters of queer politics have radically shifted. Figures like Andrew Sullivan whose queerness was once leveled against them are now suddenly allowed much more leeway, and conservatives have appropriately pushed back their standards for heteroconformity to better fit the mainstream–it is trans people now who are caught in the crossfire, and it couldn’t have been at any other time that Scarcella would contrast herself against the left by adopting conservatism as part of her crusade against trans acceptance.
Now that the barrier to entry into the conservative movement has been lowered for queer people, political polarization is much less effective at naturally sorting divergent sexualities and gender identities across both ends of the political spectrum–whereas LGBT+ activism was synonymous with left-wing socioeconomic positions in the past, that distinction has come to be further muddied in the last few decades. Being queer is no longer the launchpad towards radical left-wing politics that it once used to be–now that political ideals are free to mix and match better with whichever queer identity one assumes, those who’ve long been infatuated by conservatism but felt repulsed to even indulge it, have less to fear from embracing it. Arielle Scarcella very much did that, and if anything, we’re truly seeing what cloth she was cut out of whereas before, that would’ve been a harder assessment to make.
Of course, all of this supersedes what’s really been the source of recent ire against Scarcella–in her bid to become more involved in conservative circles, she’s adopted the same disingenuous calls for civil debate, and has similarly shot them down at every turn. Popular leftist Twitch streamer Vaush extended an invitation only to be denied, and several other figures — some much smaller — have tried their hand at getting ahold of Scarcella, only to be met with radio silence or outright rejection instead. Elsewhere, BreadTube content creator Kat Blaque broke the seal on a few details of private interaction with Scarcella, suggesting those conservative sensibilities may have been present all along.
In a year where one of the primary challengers for the Democratic presidential ticket was a gay man, and happened to advocate for policies to the right of two heterosexual progressives, it is about time that an expectation of progressivism has to no longer be placed upon queer people–not only is it increasingly becoming a poor predictor of political ideology, but being part of a historically discriminated-against community and still advocating for ideas that hurt them is a far-more reliable predictor of privilege. Pete Buttigieg and Arielle Scarcella exemplify it best in their respective categories–because they see the adoption of a certain ideology as a bolstering of their own status, they’ll disavow whichever they once projected to be in favor of just to attain it.
All of that is to say, Arielle Scarcella isn’t an outlier–far from it. As non-cisheterosexuality starts to become less polarizing, reshuffling across the political spectrum is to be expected. For those who’ve hung their hopes on shared identitarian struggle as the unbreakable unifier, they’ll have to seek class solidarity instead–at least there, even those who are not queer but are in similar socioeconomic standing might profess more progressive views than Scarcella. As unsettling as it is to watch that transition, the lack of a strong political conviction will make role reversal a more frequent potential outcome for other queer creators in the future–what we’re seeing now is merely the tip of the iceberg.