Andrew Neighbors is a lot of things; optometrist, gamer, brother, YouTuber, good friend, role model, and for those that are familiar with his prolific Instagram presence, a social media influencer. But unlike other Instagram stars, there is depth behind his chiseled features, a thoughtfulness to his actions, and an affable nature that you’ll find hard not to love.What struck me most about my chat with Andrew was how authentic and genuine he was. It’s scarily easy to form a conclusion about a person solely based upon an Instagram grid of shirtless photos, but shame on anyone who doesn’t dig deeper and give this guy more credit.In fact, considering the immense societal concern about what the long-term effects social media usage will have on Generation X, Andrew’s social media voice is one that is undoubtedly beneficial. When he began his YouTube channel when the platform was in its nascency, he sought out to bring a more multifaceted look at what it meant to live as a gay professional, as well as be the gay best friend he would have loved to have as a child growing up in the rural South. His videos are part confessional, all honest, and delve into topics that young people questioning their sexuality, or who are struggling with being gay, can turn to and feel represented. Like they have a gay best friend they can always turn to for advice.Andrew’s content is imbued with a transparency that allow his viewers to really get to know him. And with nearly 250,000 subscribers, you could definitely say that his goal to provide answers and anecdotal support to LGBTQ+ youth has been successful.In addition to possessing movie star good lucks and having popular YouTube and Instagram channels where he’s setting an incredible example for gay youth, he’s also a DOCTOR. Like, really, is there anything he doesn’t do? (the answer, by the way, is probably not)He’s been a traveling optometrist for the past five years where he tours the country and helps patients with their vision. During our chat, it was quite clear that he simply loves his job – and more than that, he loves to help people in general. Having been bitten by the optometry bug when he was a child, he saw, quite literally, how being an eye doctor could alter the trajectory of someone’s life when his own doctor prescribed him glasses that drastically improved his sight. “Every step of the way, getting to participate in helping people see clearly just reinforces that you’re doing something awesome,” he told me. “Plus, it’s a [medical] job where you get to help people without getting too gory!”Whether he’s posting a relatable video about understanding gay culture or writing a prescription for a patient that helps their vision improve, Andrew Neighbors is a man who makes people feel seen. The main takeaway? Don’t judge a book (or an Instagram account, for that matter) by its cover. You might miss out on connecting with someone pretty sensational.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: MAXWELL POTH @MAXWELLPOTH(INSTAGRAM)