LOS ANGELES — They may not be embarking on their honeymoon as soon as they’d hoped, but actor Garret Clayton and his fiancé Blake Knight are on something of a world tour.
The couple, who have been together for almost 10 years, have launched a YouTube channel called "A Gay in the Life." Their goal: interview queer people from all corners of the Earth, including countries where being openly LGBTQ+ could lead to punishment or even death.
“You know, we’re trying to provide those people, especially youth, with resources and kind of just different perspectives that shows them that they are not alone," Knight explained.
The channel grew out of some personal research. Knight and Clayton hope to have a family one day and had started looking into foreign adoption. Knight studied abroad in Italy so he began looking into their laws.
“Well, we couldn’t even adopt from Italy if we wanted to," he found. "We were very surprised to see that there are still plenty of countries in the world that do not allow same sex couples to adopt."
Their YouTube channel, which features new videos every Thursday, includes interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community. Among them, some familiar faces, like Tan France from Netflix's "Queer Eye."
“Most of the people we’ve interviewed are excited to share their journey and for other people to get something from it," Clayton said. "To learn from it."
He hopes people will learn from his journey as well. Clayton, who starred in Disney's Teen Beach Movie franchise and Hairspray Live!, has a large social media following and makes a point of showing all facets of his life on Instagram. But that wasn't always the case. Clayton, who moved to Los Angeles from Detroit, was already out when he first started getting acting jobs. His relationship with Knight was beginning at the same time that he says a team of people were coaching him on his public persona.
“They worked on everything with me from the way I dressed, the way I spoke, the way I posed in pictures, all of it," he remembered. "It really felt like I was living two different lives. One person was at home and a completely other person walked out the door."
Clayton says it felt like he had to go back in the closet and that caused him a lot of mental anguish. "I had a group of people saying, 'Here’s your dream and we want to give it to you if you are this way,'" he recalled. "'But if you're not this way, we can’t help you.'"
For seven years, he and Knight kept their relationship a secret, shielded from the public eye.
"It felt like I had a lot to work through to combine who I was again," he explained, "and that is a struggle I know a lot of queer people face with showing the outside world something that’s completely different from going on inside.”
It wasn’t easy for Knight, either, to be kept in the shadows for so long, but their relationship survived. Earlier this year their engagement was profiled by The Knot and their new YouTube channel will also include little glimpses of their home life. They plan to finally say "I do" next year, but in the meantime, they hope their story — and the stories they highlight — will resonate with viewers in far corners of the globe.
“If each video reaches out and touches someone," Knight explained, "in a way that it helps them cope a little bit better with the struggles they’re going through…”
"Or better, go through their journey without being scared of it,” Clayton continued.
"I think that’s something that’s really encouraging for us," Knight finished.