If you visit YouTube, throw the words “the gay stoner”or “gay weed” into the search bar, and hit enter, the page quickly redirects you to a slew of videos of a handsome, blonde man proudly displaying his cannabis paraphernalia and looking blitzed out of his mind.
This is Denver’s Arend Richard, or better known as The Gay Stoner.
Richard, who started making YouTube videos to make his friends laugh, skyrocketed into YouTube stardom when he published a video of him smoking from a pipe. The video, unlike his previous ones, garnered nearly 10,000 hits. That’s when it clicked for him.
“I saw a niche that hadn’t been filled, and I snatched it,” Richard said. “On YouTube, everyone needs a niche, or you’ll just fade into the millions of videos on the site. To be a gay YouTuber and get followers you have to be drop dead gorgeous and take your shirt off every time you are on camera. That isn’t my gig. Smoking pot however, totally is.”
He found a home as a “WeedTuber” where he dives into the elevated world of legal, recreational marijuana. There are only a few cannabis vloggers on YouTube, and out of the handful only two or three have more than 100,000 subscribers. Richard is rapidly reaching that goal with more than 43,000 subscribers to his page currently — thanks in some part to his time spent with the queen of marijuana Laganja Estranja.
Three months ago, Richard starred in a video with Laganja Estranja, the drag queen who stole stoner’s hearts during her time on Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 6, where the two sat in the World of Wonder studio, smoked a lot of weed, and played a few memory games. Once the video was released, his subscribers and viewers started getting a little higher too.
World of Wonder is the queer YouTube powerhouse that hosts a slew of drag queen videos like UNHhhh, Alyssa’s Secret, Fashion Photo Review, and UNTUCKED — the follow up web series to RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“My channel has opened up so many doors for me, and sometimes it’s easy for people to get lost in that. They let it go to their heads,” Richard said. “But as I continue to do these really cool things I don’t forget that there are so many other people who want to do what I’m doing, and that humbles me and keeps me grounded.”
For Richard the videos have a deeper meaning that just watching a cute boy get ripped on camera and showing his viewers how to make a bong out of Smart Water bottles. He’s bridging a gap between two different worlds.
Being both queer and a WeedTuber, Richard draws in two different types of viewers — those who connect with him for being gay and those who connect with him through cannabis.
One of the most recurring comments on his videos is, “I hate gay people, but I love you.” It’s something a lot of queers have heard from straight people in their lives who don’t understand that the queer community is vast and filled with people from all walks of life. This is something Richard is trying to get across in his videos.
“I realize that I have an audience that a lot of queer YouTubers don’t receive,” Richard said. “So I try to be as authentic as I can in the videos, and I take the time to respond to anyone who reaches out to me. There are days when all I do is reply to snapchats or tweets. I think that is really important.”
It’s his dedication, intelligence, and playfulness that continue to draw in viewers all over the world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that when he smiles flash flood warnings are issued near anyone watching the videos. I mean, ust look at him!
As his channel garners more attention so does his schedule. Richard recently collaborated with the glassmaker GlassNobody to launch a Gay Stoner pipe. It’s a simple, orange, spoon pipe with a black rake designed onto it.
“If you have to ask about the rake, then you just won’t understand,” Richard said through a half crooked smile. “It’s an inside joke with my viewers and you’ll have to catch up on my channel if you want in on the joke.”
He’s also in cohoots with a few other queens from Drag Race who are interested in making videos with him during his time at Drag Con in LA. But as he continues to garner support from the queer community, the cannabis industry has been more reluctant.
Multiple companies have reached to him, and vice versa, with interest in partnering, but as soon as he discloses the nature of his channel they back away. He believes this is because of his sexual orientation.
“I think the cannabis industry is super homophobic,” Richard said. “The LGBTQ community is not catered to at all by the cannabis industry. They don’t consider us part of the demographic, when in reality we are a huge part of the demographic. I’m not sure why this is, but I know that I want to try and change that.”
He’s also not a stranger to being called a faggot. While he’s heard it occasionally while walking the streets of Denver, it’s on his videos that hate gets thrown at him on the daily. For every video he does, the hateful word is cast through the internet at him at least 10 times.
At first, this bothered him. But he’s learned to just delete the notification from his phone and focus on his viewers that continue coming back to support him.
“There are always going to be haters,” Richard said. “But I know I’m actually impacting people and broadening their mind on sexuality or cannabis. That’s why I do it and why I’ll continue making these videos.”
Check out Richard’s YouTube channel or his website to purchase the Gay Stoner pipe.