An interview focusing on the importance of representation on Twitch for marginalized creators!
The streamer, known as Bee Poshek has been promoting a twitch campaign to get disabled content creators their own month of representation on the front page on Twitch. Bee has PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) as well as an undiagnosed disability that causes chronic muscle and joint pain along with c-PTSD and suspected autism. They have provided representation and conversations that not only help disabled creators but also provide support for marginalized creators and educate others to advocate for the disabled community.
Speaking directly about the campaign, they had this to say:
"Often there are people who express that they support the idea but they don't want disabled creators to face additional harassment that the front page visibility can provide. this is incredibly infantilizing and takes agency away from disabled creators. All marginalized creators get hate on twitch's platform and other social media as well, just for existing as we are (especially if you are visibly disabled or very open about your identity) regardless, at least this would allow us to be celebrated for our joy and talents. additionally, just like any other marginalized identity, we know how to care for our community and put up extra security measures to keep them safe and would do so accordingly."
Bee has been streaming for over a year and a half. They were inspired after coming home to Rural Northern Wisconsin after college and wanting to find a new community along with other queer and disabled folks, which prompted them to start streaming.
" I had this sense of community during college in new york and I wanted to recreate that, but with the pandemic, it made it impossible to do so in-person safely at the time. So I started seeking out that sense of community online via twitch and was inspired to build my own community."
Bee was inspired by their own experience as a disabled content creator to start the campaign and create a safe space for disabled content creators on Twitch. They started the campaign via Twitter and encouraged other content creators to post discord announcements and timers in their streams!
" I surround myself with other marginalized creators and I know that it's common practice for twitch to highlight creators of certain marginalized identities during their international celebratory month but always felt hurt when there was no acknowledgment of disabled creators. we face many additional hurdles being disabled in the content creation sphere, so it felt wrong that we weren't being uplifted and supported with the discoverability of a celebratory month."
Bee hopes for Twitch to take notice of the campaign and eventually make a change for disabled creators. Currently, the campaign has hit over 1,000 votes on the campaign page, showing us that there is in fact, a large interest to make this happen for the community. Twitch tends to move slowly on their requests, so it might take some time before we see a change.
"I hope that Twitch sees how much-disabled creators bring to their platform and how special the communities are in this space and consider highlighting us like they do many other marginalized identity groups."
When it came to discussing how non-disabled creators can spread awareness about things like disabled creators, their content creation, and their communities, they had a lot to discuss on this matter. Highlighting how it's important to educate creators and change the tone of this space, along with engaging with their content, making the content more accessible, and supporting the creators.
"Oftentimes, well-intentioned non-disabled creators will make tips and tricks for what will make you a successful creator without realizing that those things aren't possible for a lot of disabled folks and it can really discourage smaller disabled creators to hear this over and over again. Disabled creators are frequently harmed by algorithms that prioritize consistency but due to our inconsistent health, we are not able to always post/stream/etc on a steady schedule despite our best efforts. so when non-disabled folks engage with our content, it helps it get pushed by the algorithm despite the difficulties we face."
By also highlighting creators for their joy and not just their trauma, Bee says that this can make the space for disabled content creators, a better one. There are now disabled hashtags on Twitch and more disabled creators are being open about their disabilities on Twitter, so it's not difficult to find these creators. Bee has a stream team for disabled content creators if you are interested.
Bee's advice to a struggling disabled content creator is community care.
" Find other disabled content creators and make friends. it makes such a difference to see yourself represented in content and to feel as though you have someone to talk to who understands the unique struggles that disabled creators go through."
Bee Poshek currently has overarching goals. They hope to grow as a person and a creator in order to become a more authentic leader for the space they are curating. Some more personal goals that they hope to achieve are; eventually unlocking the path to partner, being able to pursue content full-time, expanding my content to other platforms, continuing to provide opportunities for the community to bond and engage with each other outside of streams, and to get a job in community management in the gaming industry with a company who shares my values for equity and authenticity.
Some of Bee's current achievements in their community are listed below.
-On trans day of visibility in my first year of streaming we were able to raise over $2000 for trans women of color collective in just one day when we were still a smaller community, really showing how much we cared about that cause (many of our community members are also trans/nonbinary - myself included!)
- A mutual-aid stream-a-thon we did in order to secure a member of our community (and a friend of mine personally) the funds to get a service dog to improve their quality of life as a disabled human. "I was amazed we were able to get this together in just a few weeks and come together as a group of people who only knew each other tangentially and achieve our goal!"
- "I was able to found and launch a stream team for softer creatives called the whimsy action stream team and bring together a bunch of incredible diverse creators from all different parts of twitch to do mutual aid/charity work and to provide that community care that can sometimes be lacking when you're doing content creation alone."
Bee Poshek believes that; "In the hive (their community), we believe in the principle of "come as you are" which means: who you are, today, is enough" and I believe we embody that. I bring a very authentic and vulnerable version of myself to my spaces and I think that allows others to do so as well."