I had planned (and even said a few days ago) that I wasn’t going to speak up about my experiences dating within the YouTube community. But as more and more brave women have come forward, I’ve finally convinced myself otherwise. My silence isn’t helping anybody - not even myself. I’ve been crying and I’ve felt nauseous and I’ve felt guilt and remorse and now fuck it, I’m just going to tell my story.
I have experienced this not once, but twice. It’s not a secret that I dated both Alex Day and Luke Conard.
My relationship with Alex was actually what I would consider a pretty decent relationship - at least at the start. I guess I was one of the “lucky” ones, if such a thing exists. We dated publicly, he called himself my boyfriend, we visited each other and made videos together and I even still to this day believe he genuinely cared for me for most of it. In hindsight the relationship was a little strange (we started talking over email and within a week he forwarded me a flight confirmation he’d purchased from London to Seattle without telling me he was doing it. The only the text on the email was “See you on Wednesday :)”. I was twenty years old at the time, not a minor by any means, but I was not very emotionally experienced when it came to dating - so to me, this was a wildly romantic and spontaneous gesture. Please, though, if anyone reading this finds themselves considering meeting an online friend with the intentions of potentially hooking up, please have a serious conversation about it together. Don’t ever “surprise” the other by showing up on their doorstep. This is a big step you need to agree to take together. I had no time to think over or mentally prepare for any of it - suddenly I was in a whirlwind relationship with a boy from another country, only to be dumped six months later when I’ve planned my entire summer study abroad around him. It led to one of the saddest, loneliest, most miserable summers I’ve ever had.
I have no idea if any of the allegations about Alex happened during our relationship. I do know he cheated on me and was actively pursuing multiple women before we even broke up. At the time, I thought that was the worst thing that could possibly happen. I was heartbroken, but cheating happens. It’s inexcusable, but it does. It took me a long time, but eventually I managed to forgive Alex for what he did to me. We even became friends again, which I honestly consider one of my greatest achievements. Forgiving someone who hurts you as badly as Alex hurt me is a momentous accomplishment and I really thought he’d “changed”, which in my mind just had to go as deep as “was starting to value loyalty in his future relationships”.
I can’t tell you the deception I felt when these stories started coming forward about Alex. I personally know a few of the girls who spoke out, and everything they said sounded very much like something Alex would say. Again, I know I was one of the “lucky” ones, but I felt the weight of these confessions tenfold. Five years of trust rebuilding! Completely for nothing? I couldn’t believe it and I felt like a total fool - like he had managed to dupe me again, even after all these years. It’s been a tough weekend, but not really for the reasons you might think.
I’m not writing this post to gain attention for having been one of Alex’s “victims”, because I wasn’t. Our relationship ended badly, but he never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do. I’m writing this post to add another name to the list, because the stories I’m reading about Tom Milsom, Alex Day, Alex Carpenter and remembering what went on with Mike Lombardo have shown me I can’t keep quiet anymore. Especially since every single one of these people are people I at one point performed with, spent time with and called my friend.
I was in an abusive and manipulative relationship with Luke Conard.
When we started dating, Luke wasn’t a YouTuber. I was actually glad for that - after the “public scandal” of my relationship with Alex, it almost felt nice trying to go “off the grid” a bit. I actually tried dating “normal” boys at home first, but just two months after Alex and I broke up (and just a few months into ALL CAPS as well) Luke set his sights on me and didn’t let up. He was older, he was charming, and we were in a band together - it felt like the pieces just fell into place. I was a little uncomfortable dating someone 7 years older than me, but what young girl doesn’t like feeling singled out and special? I was totally caught up in the glamour and excitement of ALL CAPS and it took me much too long to recognize what was really going on.
I’m not going to outright say Luke used me to get popular on YouTube. For my own emotional well-being, I have to assume he cared about me at least a little. We enjoyed working on music together, we enjoyed performing, and I loved visiting him down in LA. But I found out after the fact from a friend of mine (one who was initially going to be in ALL CAPS with us, actually, that Luke cut from the band once things started getting serious) that Luke had approached him saying “Harry Potter music is dying down. We need to start a new band with a popular YouTube girl.”
It became increasingly apparent to me that our relationship was ALL CAPS and there wasn’t much outside of it. It was little things - but little things that hurt. He wouldn’t stand next to me in group pictures. He’d call me out on things in front of our friends, making me look stupid. And the more popular he got on YouTube, the worse it got. The less he seemed to care about me. Once I decided to come down to spend my birthday with him and we never left the house once, even when I repeatedly asked if we could do something, anything, to celebrate. Luke worked on music and I sat on his bed and eventually Sarah Snitch (who was dating Alex at the time and had caught wind of the fact that my birthday was being ignored) took it upon herself to make me a cake and bring it over. Sarah and I barely knew each other at this point (but have gone on to become very close friends).
Luke also found a way to make sure I never got a penny of our first ALL CAPS album, “Songs in the Key of Email”. This has always been my most humiliating secret, but one the world should know. He helped me with a Parselmouths album around the time “Songs in the Key” came out, so we made a deal to ”square up after a year of sales”, which in hindsight was incredibly stupid of me. ALWAYS GET A CONTRACT. I don’t care if you’re creating something with your best friend or your boyfriend or your mom, ALWAYS GET A CONTRACT. After a year of ALL CAPS exceptionally outselling any revenue the Parselmouths album brought in, I timidly tried to bring it up. Luke got furious with me, claiming we’d agreed I’d just take the money from the Parselmouths album while he took the ALL CAPS money. I had no proof we DIDN’T agree on this, since there was no contract. I had absolutely zero power in the band and even less in our relationship, so I dropped it - feeling like a fool.
In August of 2010, Luke dumped me right at the start of the ROFLCOPTOUR tour. He didn’t want our fans to know though, since it would be bad for the band’s image. So for months I pretended we were dating in public while he continued to manipulate nearly everything I did - only now he didn’t owe me anything, since he “wasn’t my boyfriend”. I took it really hard, since the normal thing to do after a breakup is to get distance and space to heal, but no - I was still required to go on tour and beg him to “Don’t Unplug Me” on stage and be in his videos. Not to mention he still found it acceptable to try and sleep with me, any time we were together, even after we broke up. I didn’t want to be broken up - I kept agreeing to more shows and another album and more trips because I thought I would lose ALL CAPS, I thought I would lose my LA friends, and I couldn’t face another public break up. So even though our “relationship” only consisted of three things - performing, sleeping together, and fighting - I persisted.
Around this time was when I found out Luke had met another girl on the side, at his river rafting job he used to hold in the summer. He was very obviously seeing her as well, even though he swore they were just friends. Once I came to LA for a week to stay with Luke and he forgot I was coming - booking a trip to see her that overlapped with my trip by two whole days. I begged him not to go, but he did anyway. I stayed at Luke’s house for two days by myself while he was visiting another girl.
Eventually, Luke told me we should start seeing other people. It hurt, but ultimately I thought it was a good thing. I agreed, and actually ended up going on a date with a guy from Seattle about a week later. When Luke found out, he did not take it well. I thought I was doing what we’d agreed to do, but he called me multiple times during the date, begging me to go home, begging me not to see anyone else. The next time I was in LA, he told me we should get back together. I didn’t trust him (especially because of the river rafting girl), but I was emotionally chained to the idea of needing ALL CAPS - so I agreed I would try it. I told him I needed a little time to learn to trust him again, but he told me if I didn’t sleep with him on that trip, I wasn’t serious about getting back together and it must mean that I slept with Seattle guy on my date. This was absolutely ridiculous, but he forced me to have sex with him to PROVE I hadn’t slept with someone else.
Regardless, I still felt like ALL CAPS was important enough to try to make things work. I invited him to come visit me in Seattle on my birthday, but it turned out river rafting girl was already coming to visit him during that time. I asked him to be honest with her about the fact that we were getting back together - surely if he explained to her that we needed to work on our relationship, she would understand how inappropriate it was for her to visit? Surely HE would see that, and visit me instead?
He refused to cancel the trip. So, I was supposed to believe that even though he had another girl visiting and sleeping in his bed on MY BIRTHDAY, he was serious about getting back together with me? Somehow through all of this, I was made out to be the crazy one. I was the untrusting, paranoid, jealous one. I was the one who didn’t work hard enough to make ALL CAPS more popular, who “should have learned how to use FL Studios by now”, who “wasn’t pulling her weight in the band”.
Also, mind you, most of the Internet still thought we were the happy couple in ALL CAPS at this point. I wasn’t losing my boyfriend to World of Warcraft, I was losing my sanity to a manipulative, abusive, selfish guy. I was miserable, I would cry all the time, and my friends were beyond concerned. My friends hated Luke. But it was a situation in which I could only help myself - no matter how much they tried to tell me to get the hell out of there, he made me feel like without ALL CAPS, I would be nothing. I honestly felt worthless. Even though he’d leeched most of his new found success from me, he still made me feel like I owed him.
This is getting extremely long, but here’s how things ended: We never got back together for real, but I was still a slave to keeping up appearances for our band. I was even making preparations to move to LA to pursue it once and for all. I was going to move in with a mutual female friend of ours, until I found out she was also sleeping with Luke behind my back. It was at this point, this final straw, that I gave a big middle finger to the band, decided to stay in Seattle, and cut Luke out completely.
People think I quit ALL CAPS because of my vocal nodes - and that’s partially true. Luke got off easy in that sense. In fact, Luke’s part of the reason my nodes got as bad as they did, because he was pretty sure it was something I was making up and encouraged me to sing through it all the time. But the real reason I quit ALL CAPS is because the time I spent with Luke held some of the lowest moments in my entire life. I’ve hardly even spoken to him since then, and I can’t even begin to illustrate for you how much better my life has been for it. My channel growth may have suffered, I may have needed to avoid the entire city of LA for awhile, but the time I took to heal was some of the most important time I ever took. And even though I’m doing a hundred times better - it wasn’t until this stuff started coming out about other YouTubers that I really had to face the truth of what being in a band and relationship with Luke Conard did to me.
No matter who you are or what the outstanding circumstances are, you deserve to be with someone who loves and respects you. I can’t stress this enough. No one is worth compromising your self-respect for. It’s breaking my heart to find out that so many people on YouTube abuse their power in this way, and even to this day I am still extremely terrified of Luke and what his reaction will be to my posting this. But I can’t stay quiet about it any longer. I told myself I would never be this open about my personal life ever again, but this is a story that needed to be told.
You can choose to like someone’s music or videos and that’s fine - I’m not on a witch hunt to ruin anyone’s career. I’m writing this 100% as a warning to other people who might find themselves on the receiving end of abuse and manipulation, especially if that comes from someone you’re a fan of. It’s a power imbalance that will never go away and it’s unhealthy and I just don’t want to see anyone else hurt by another person with an inflated ego from Internet fame. We can’t keep turning a blind eye to this kind of behavior, and I wrote this post to show that even though I wasn’t underage when these things happened to me, they’re still wrong. Even though it’s technically legal to treat someone like crap, it doesn’t make it okay.
This community is supposed to be safe. It’s supposed to be welcoming and beautiful and happy. We need to look out for each other and I’m so glad that so many people are speaking up so we can start to do that even better.