Jamie O'Herlihy: "At the end of the day, we're all just living our lives for us"
Her's digital cover star for June is Irish blogger Jamie O'Herlihy.
"My job is just to find my happiness and do what I want to do in life."
Jamie O'Herlihy is very comfortable being completely herself in the public eye.
"I'm just someone who decided to put myself out there," the Cork blogger tells me.
This is undeniably true. Jamie regularly shares insights into her life with her thousands of followers across Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. On top of that, she makes money through her OnlyFans account.
This level of transparency isn't new. Being completely open about who she is has always been a big part of Jamie's life.
After all, she was just 15 years-old when she made history as the first Irish teenager to come out as bisexual on national TV. When the time came to tell the world that she is trans a few years later, she decided to do so publicly, and on her own terms.
"I put a video up on Facebook, for friends and family, just to let them know that these are going to be my pronouns," Jamie says.
The video soon got picked up by a number of publications, and Jamie and her sister Chloe - who is also trans - were making headlines both in Ireland and around the world.
The sisters saw the traction their story garnered and decided to put it to good use.
"We were just like, 'OK, let's be the voice we haven't seen.'"
Since then, Jamie continues to use her online platform to advocate for trans rights, as well as progress generally.
"I'm just someone who is authentically themselves, and who doesn't let society tell me what I can or can't do because of my gender. I like to be a spokesperson for justice and peace, and for everything that I feel should be right in the world."
Today, the blogger continues to share her daily life across her various social platforms. She posts a variety of content, including vlogs and hauls as well as insights into trans healthcare in Ireland. Most recently, she documented her move from Cork to Dublin.
"I'm living with two trans girls now, and they're amazing," Jamie tells me. "It's really nice to have them as a support."
Currently, Jamie has over 28,000 followers on Instagram and has garnered over 200,000 views on TikTok
With this however, she admits it can be hard to strike a balance.
"I love social media because it's really helped with a lot of things for me," she says. "But at the same time, it can be so toxic. It could be something small, like a troll comment, or it could just be that my followers are shooting up, and that makes me nervous. I don't know what it is, but I feel like now is the time to keep some parts of myself for myself."
"I'm not going to educate people who are constantly attacking a small community."
Over the past few years, LGBT+ activists have noted an increase in harmful anti-trans abuse and rhetoric online. While Jamie is happy to raise awareness for issues affecting the trans community in Ireland, she feels zero obligation to seek out the very people who oppress her, and attempt to change their minds.
"It's not up to me, as a minority, to start educating people who are bigots because that's not my job. For me, my job is just to find my happiness, and be myself and do what I want to do in my life. If they want to go away and learn, the information is there. It's all on the internet, all you need to do is Google it. But I'm not going to educate people who are constantly attacking a small community just for being themselves."
However, Jamie is far happier to use her energy to support and offer guidance to members of her community. In fact, it's something that empowers her.
"I prefer helping people with coming out," she says. "Or people who are not sure how to be who they are. I love helping people like that.
"If I'm putting myself out there and people are able to see it and read it and take something away from it, then I'll feel good about that. That will empower me to keep putting myself out there."
"Remember that tomorrow is only around the corner."
While Jamie is comfortable being herself online, she notes that for many LGBT+ youth, it's not always that easy. This is particularly true if you're in a potentially hostile living environment.
"If you can't express who you are right now, there is always tomorrow," she says. "It might feel like a long way off, but it will come sooner or later. You will be able to express yourself again and be who you want to be. At the end of the day, we’re all just living our lives for us, to be happy.
"And, on one hand, I can't just say 'Oh, just come out and be yourself', because people could be in violent situations at home. But just have something. An item of clothing, a bit of make-up, or music, anything that just makes you feel a bit more like you. If you can do it in private, in a safe way, then do that, because that can really help."
She continues: "Just remember that tomorrow is only around the corner. You'll be able to be with the people who love you and accept you very soon."
"Whenever I think about Pride, I feel warm."
This month, Ireland's LGBT+ community will celebrate Pride digitally for the second year in a row. Looking back on her memories of Pride, Jamie reflects on how Pride is synonymous with family.
"My mom's a lesbian," Jamie explains. "She always taught us to be so accepting and loving."
As a child, Jamie's family attended Pride events together, and the festival retains the same importance.
"Before I came out, I was going to Pride with my mom. I just feel really happy whenever I think about Pride, I feel warm. I feel like it’s such a celebration of diversity and different people. If I could sum it up in one word, it really would be family.
"A lot of the time, Pride can be confused with big parties and drinking. But for me, it's more about just being around people. It's so empowering to see people walk down the street, where on any other day, they could be beaten up or have slurs thrown at them. They're just themselves, and I love that."
One Pride in particular stands out for Jamie. She fondly remembers walking the route for the first time after coming out as bisexual.
"I remember my first Pride walking and being myself, and thinking, 'This feels pretty good. I really like this.'"