As humans we're going to make mistakes. It's what makes us human, and most of the time, the most effective way of learning is from a mistake. I, Nash Grier, have made more mistakes than I can remember. Some big, some small, some nobody has seen, and some millions of people have seen. But ever since I was young, my parents told me to use these mistakes and make them into something positive.
In April of 2013, I made some of the best and worst decisions of my life. As a kid that just turned 15 in my freshman year of high school, I was in a weird place. I went to a small private school in North Carolina with maybe 200 kids. It was very different from your typical high school experience that you see in movies and on television. Social standards were tough. You were in or you were out. For most of my freshman year up until the spring, I was out. I didn't play any sports; I took AP classes with 10 kids in a class, and lived a very excluded and lonely life.
Later that spring, a trend went around school -- a new form of social media: Vine. Everyone was downloading it and making six-second clips in school, usually making fun of a teacher or doing something reckless. I saw an opportunity. Over time, I began to experiment and make my own videos. At first, they were just inside jokes with the little friends I had, but after a while, more of my classmates started to take notice of them. I finally felt accepted. It got to a point where I conformed and did what everyone else wanted on Vine. This is where the mistakes were made.
I had almost 1,200 followers on Vine and I posted six-second video on HIV/AIDS, using a very offensive term ("fag"). The next day, I went to school and I received so many responses as to how funny the video was. At this point, what I thought I had done wasn't just okay, but I thought it was funny. As a kid that just turned 15 from a private school, I was very sheltered from the real world. I didn't know the meaning behind what I was saying when I made the video. I didn't know the people I was hurting.
As time went on, my audience began to grow. About a month later after posting the video (and many more), I had almost 2,500 followers. At that time I began to get some significant feedback from people that weren't just in my high school. I looked through my videos and saw hundreds of negative comments on the one I had posted bashing on HIV/AIDS and the gay community. At first, I didn't really understand how someone could have so much hate for me, but then I put myself in their shoes. I read more and more comments and even did research. I had a realization that I hadn't had in my life up until that point: Everything I had said on or off camera could've been harmful to others.
I immediately deleted the video and changed my outlook on everything I had ever said and/or posted. A few days later, I completely deactivated all of my social media channels, mainly because I knew I had done something very evil, and partially because I also thought social media was a waste of time.
Towards the end of summer 2013 when school ended, I decided to re-download all of my social media channels and make videos again. The next day I woke up and had 9,000 followers. I did the same thing the next day and woke up with 54,000 followers. Next thing I know, I was making appearances on Good Morning America, traveling the country and gaining millions of followers across all of my social media accounts. It had literally been in a year's span that my "rise to fame" had happened. Things didn't slow down. Next thing you know, I made a career out of it. I began signing contracts and sitting in business meetings, consulting managers and traveling the world. I had some of the fastest growing social media accounts in history, capturing the attention of 25 million total followers.
Being on the top of my game, I had a bull's-eye on my head. Someone had the video I posted a year and a half ago on their phone and decided to re-post it. The video went viral. People thought the video was new, when in reality, it wasn't. I made two public apologies, but I was extremely crushed at this point. I had already understood the issue and to this day, regret it more than anything I have ever done. I began getting death threats, was called "homophobic" and a "hate monger," when in reality, it was the farthest thing from true. One of my first big YouTube videos was with four of my good friends at the time -- most of them gay. Many of my early Vines and collaborations were with gay people. I never once had a problem with someone's sexuality or sexual preference. If there is one thing I stand for in life, it is do whatever makes you happy. I have and never will be against same-sex relationships or marriages. I can't stress to you enough how far off the title "homophobic" is from my actual personality. I realize that I made a mistake. At the time I didn't, but I have learned from it.
At the time, I was just a normal kid. I had 1,000 followers and I was the farthest thing from a role model and the person I consider myself to be today. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry to each and every person I have ever offended.
And don't think for a second this is just something to save my ass in the business world. This is me, no publicist, no one telling me what to do. I accept you, and you get the same respect from me whether you are black, white, gay straight, Asian, bisexual, Australian, tall, fat, WHATEVER it is. We are all people, and I look at the people of the world the same way, as my brothers and sisters. And someday, I want to make a positive impact on all of you.
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