MEET CLEVER INFLUENCER - Chris Rhodes
Lynn Johnson • June 5, 2020
Chris Rhodes (SeeTheStarsAblaze) is a lifestyle blogger, proud trans guy, and CLEVER influencer. As we kick off Pride with National Give Out Day, we celebrate him and all of the LGBTQ+ influencers who create incredible content all year from a place of authenticity and truth.
How long have you been a content creator?
For about a year and a half in terms of what most people consider an influencer/content creator. But I have been creating content for myself and a large audience since I started my transition, since 2015. I've been sharing my life openly online and creating content around that.
How did you get started? Do you remember the first thing you posted?
I started mostly just posting about my life and in turn a lot about my transition which garnered quite a following. That allowed me to post more about my life because people were interested in many facets of my life as a trans person, not just the trans part! The first thing I ever posted on Instagram was a picture of shoes. The first platform I gained a large following on was tumblr where I started out geeking out over Glee (that's the most embarrassing thing you'll ever know about my social media haha). Eventually, I was sharing my writing, being vulnerable around exploring my gender. The first thing I posted on YouTube was probably something early on about starting testosterone to document my journey.
What do you create content about? Why? For whom?
I'm a lifestyle "blogger" though I don't blog much. I center my content around my life – fashion, fitness, food, drinks, travel, relationships, LGBTQ topics, activism, mental health, media – really whatever is relevant to my day to day. I started out sharing a lot about my transition because I gained a lot of knowledge and the courage to follow my truth. I discovered other trans people on social media who became incredible resources to me as a younger queer person – so when I started on my own journey I wanted to "pay it forward" and be a resource for other younger questioning folks to look up to and learn from, etc. Then the further into my transition I got I wanted to also post about my life in general, regardless of it all being centered around my trans-ness, which is more for me though still for that same audience because seeing trans people live "normal" everyday lives and talk about what they're interested in and succeed and fail and love and explore and everything else that comes with just being a person I think is really important.
What is your advice for brands who want to make more authentic connections with the LGBTQ+ community?
How has your work been impacted by the pandemic?
It is a lot more difficult to get varied content because I am spending the majority of my time in my house. Usually I'd be out at restaurants and bars and traveling and around lots of other people. It mostly affects my day-to-day, non-sponsored content, though the pandemic has caused quite a few campaigns to fall through.
What is your hope for the future?
I hope to continue to create content I enjoy, putting a trans person on the radar for brands as a legitimate influencer. The influencer market is already mostly saturated with women. To see more men, and not just cisgender men, (though queer men make up a fair portion of successful male influencer which is nice to see) and to see men that don't fit the normal "box" of what society might deem a man modeling big clothing brands, advocating for issues, promoting products, repping household names, that is something I want more of. I would be incredibly lucky if this was able to be a full-time gig for me to sustain a living making content I'm passionate about, flexing my creative muscles, and giving my mostly LGBTQ+ audience things to consume that they also enjoy and benefit from – and for brands to realize that is a mostly untapped audience that should be accounted for and not only exploited and tokenized during pride month for example.
Which National Give Out Day non-profit are you donating you and why? Black Visions Collective
Because of the current climate in our country I think it is ESSENTIAL that when choose organizations to contribute to during Pride Month (and anytime), we make sure to focus on the intersection of LGBTQIA+ folks and other marginalized identities. This is especially true of the Black members of our community who are subjected to so much violence, oppression, and discrimination on a regular basis. The Black Visions Collective is a Black, Trans, and Queer-led organization working to dismantle systems of oppression + violence and create long-term change which is something I am in full support of and want others to be too.
Why should others join you in making a donation to the Black Visions Collective?
There are so many incredible organizations that I hope will be highlighted during National Give Out Day. However, in the wake of everything going on in our country after the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, I would like to uplift this organization that is led by Black queer people.