Nash Grier is 16 years old and a genuine Internet sensation: Some 8.7 million Vine subscribers follow six-second clips of him playing with his 4-year-old sister, cracking jokes and pranking friends.
But the North Carolina teen struck a sour note recently when he posted a clip suggesting only “fags” needed to get tested for HIV. Grier ran a few seconds of an HIV public-service-announcement in which a man tells the camera “It’s not just a gay thing.” The clip then cuts to Grier, who shouts “Yes is is! FAG!!”
Grier took down the original Vine, but vlogger Tyler Oakley re-posted it and called Grier out.
Sure, he’s only 16, but Grier is the most popular person on a major social-media platform. (The next biggest Vine star, KingBach, only has 7.3 million, and pop star Ariana Grande has just 2.4 million.) And he speaks more directly to young people than any teacher, parent or celebrity.
It’s not the first time Grier has attacked the LGBT community: He reportedly uses “gay” and “fag” as insults in his clips and, in 2012, tweeted a request for followers to re-tweet if they opposed same-sex marriage.
There’s also an uncomfortable undercurrent to his his appeal—clips parodying how black women dress and talk, frequent references to Jesus, a slick upbeatness that New Yorkmagazine says “is part of his brand.”
“Nash is a God-fearing Christian who frequently consults his iPhone’s Bible app while on the road,” read a profile in the magazine last year. “‘I don’t use cuss words, I try not to do anything awful. You don’t want to lower your audience,’ he says.”
Well, we don’t know about his audience, but Grier certainly lowered himself.