I recently spoke to Kaeli, a small non-binary/agender, neurodivergent, and queer streamer on Twitch about mental health, their journey, the struggles of streaming on Twitch as a non-binary creator, and the Twitch Uservoice asking for non-binary creators to have their own front page during the month of July.
Kaeli has been streaming on Twitch for 4 years, starting their journey in 2018. When asked about why they started and what inspired them to start streaming, their answer was pretty simple. "An ex-friend of mine told me I should start streaming because he thought I was “funny enough to make it” I always loved performing and starting in stand-up was a real consideration before the pandemic. I wanted to make people laugh. I wanted to make myself laugh. I just wanted to perform and make something I really enjoyed."
They have been currently actively streaming since 2020 and most of their content has been cozy and chill-focused, allowing the audience to enjoy their company and laugh along with their antics. "On Twitch, I make chill content for people to just hop in and relax. On Twitter? I would say I make loud and confrontational content about my identities."
In terms of the Twitch UserVoice, I actually connected with Kaeli through the Twitch creator Sage, who created the Twitch UserVoice and was mutual on Twitter. Speaking about the UserVoice, Kaeli actually knew already about it and shared and retweeted it many times through Twitter. "Yes, I believe I retweeted it a few times when it was first circulating, but this is a great reminder to plug it in some more! So, thank you!"
In terms of the Uservoice, they are fully on board with it and share and retweet it as much as possible. "I love it. In a perfect world, binary trans men and women would be held up on International Women’s and International Men’s Day, trans people all over the spectrum would have Trans Day of Visibility, and non-binary/GNC would have their own day(July 14th) to be recognized. I refuse to believe we can’t have that. I really appreciate Sage making this UserVoice."
They believe that Twitch will definitely see the UserVoice and make a change. "I think twitch has already seen it and I don’t doubt it will happen. Honestly, Twitch would have to have their heads in the sand not to see it."
Being a non-binary creator on Twitch is definitely a struggle due to not having a large community of non-binary creators to connect and chat with on Twitch, leaving many of them left to figure out their content and make themselves known. Even with the use of hashtags, such as non-binary, queer, and LGBTQ, it is still a very small community. "Oh absolutely. The really direct hate is exhausting and hurtful. However, it does kind of feel like free-floating, being a non-binary person on twitch. There isn’t really a big interconnected community and a lot of people don’t think non-binary people are “real”. It’s kind of weird and sucks a lot getting it from both sides."
In terms of mental health and streaming, Twitch and content creation can be very stressful, especially when you have to keep a consistent schedule with both streams and content. Kaeli spoke about mental health and breaks, giving a personal perspective on how this affects them and their community.
"I am very open about my mental health with my community. I have been officially diagnosed with ADHD and I am working on an ASD official diagnosis. Honestly, I think a good 90% of my community has either one or both of those, and being open about my journey has been a big driving force in what has made my community what it is today."
When discussing the topic of mental health and breaks, Kaeli takes their mental health extremely seriously, making sure to take breaks when needed. Even though taking a break can affect a streamer's numbers. "OMG YES. It’s a little joke that I disappear for like a month and then pop back in, stream consistently for a month and then dip again. RSD (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria) is a beast that requires a lot of disconnect from the world of streaming, to recharge, in order to continue having positive interactions with people. I also really want to lead by example. Taking breaks will really destroy your numbers, but it’s paramount that you take them."
In terms of community, a safe space, and their current goals for this year, this is what Kaeli had to say about it. "I don’t think it’s something I will achieve and then be done, you know? My focus is not on making my space safe for all creators and watchers. My focus is making sure marginalized people feel safe and respected in my community and that isn’t something that you achieve and it’s all good. So my response is; I’m working hard at making it a safe place and I’m going to continue to do the work so it stays that way. To be honest, I don’t. I love streaming and I love my community. I don’t entirely know what my content is yet and I am feeling out different areas. I want to continue to raise money for mutual aid and charity, and I want to make people laugh."
Kaeli has raised over $1,500 dollars for charity and helped raise money in a wonderful streamathon for mutual aid for another creator (tee_spoonie) so they could get their service dog!
Kaeli's advice to a non-binary streamer struggling with identity is as follows; "The beautiful thing about a spectrum is you don’t have to have a hard and fast idea of “what” you are. What matters the most is how it makes you FEEL. You don’t have to change your pronouns to be “legitimate”, you don’t have to present a specific way in order to be valid, you can even change your mind and it DOES NOT invalidate your experience. Gender is a construct and you can construct it into what you feel fits you as a person."