LGBTQ TikTok: How TikTok is Supporting LGBTQ Youth

LGBTQ TikTok is a place for Gen Z users to discuss their unique identities and experiences - and multiple queer communities are popping up on the platform.
Fanbytes | LGBTQ TikTok

In 30 seconds:

  • Gen Z’s favourite social media app is home to a thriving community of LGBTQ creators who are celebrating their unique identities online.
  • As both the first digital natives and the ‘most queer’ generation, Gen Z are keen to build communities where they can talk freely about their experiences with their gender and sexuality.
  • LGBTQ TikTok is full of trends, hashtags and challenges that uplift and educate queer youth – and it’s providing them with a supportive place to explore their identities.

TikTok is known for nurturing a wide range of micro-communities. 

Like any of them, “LGBTQ TikTok” has become home to a range of creators who use the social media platform to share their experiences with audiences of like minded users. 

TikTok had previously come under fire for banning topics and videos that have a focus on LGBTQ issues in some of the 140+ countries that it operates in but, at least in its many Western markets, LGBTQ+ communities are using the platform to spread positivity, to educate, and to challenge the images of queer people most often seen in traditional media. 

It’s certainly true that, for many, TikTok is the platform where they’re most likely to see a range of content relating to issues and identities that relate closely to their experiences. That’s because the TikTok algorithm, detecting which kind of content viewers engage with favourably, will promote similar videos onto their central feeds. 

For many LGBTQ youths, this has meant seeing more and more content on subjects around their sexuality and gender the longer they stay browsing. 

Gen Z: The most diverse generation

Generation Z are the most diverse generation in history. 

One Gallup poll found that a record 15% of Gen Zers identified as LGBTQ+, a significant increase from the 9% reported by Millennials who took part in the survey. 

This upward swing doesn’t necessarily indicate that more and more people are LGBTQ+, but rather that those who *are* now feel safer in coming out and talking openly about their identities and orientations. It’s also true that the increased representation of LGBTQ+ people presented by social media means that more young people are recognising their experiences and are able to self-identify as LGBTQ+ earlier in life.

It’s this acceptance and plurality of experiences that has LGBTQ TikTok winning over its large Gen Z user base. 

According to McKinsey, self-expression is one of the key characteristics of this younger generation, and as a “radically inclusive” demographic, they are more likely to support social causes related to differing identities, even if they don’t identify as LGBTQ+ themselves. 

This openness also means Gen Z are also more inclined to see their identities as more fluid. Young people are also far less likely than older generations to consider their gender and sexual identity to be fixed. 36% have reported that they expect their identity to change over time. 

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the free and frank conversations around LGBTQ+ issues on TikTok have proven such a hit with this accepting, curious generation. 

LGBTQ TikTok: What is it?

Like any of TikTok’s micro-communities, there is no central hub to LGBTQ TikTok. Instead, the algorithm promotes LGBT-related videos to users who have engaged favourably with similar topics in the past. 

Unlike some of the other communities who are active on TikTok – like BookTok, FoodTok and SkinTok – LGBTQ+ users are producing content across a range of genres, addressing a myriad of different subjects. 

You’ll find TikTokers who identify as LGBTQ+ featuring prominently in many other micro-communities, and their profiles serve as the kind of easy representation that so many young people say they are missing in more traditional media. 

The natural pervasiveness of LGBTQ+ people throughout the platform is also helping non-LGBTQ+ TikTokers find new ways they can relate to this community’s experiences and point of view. It’s also helping young people have the confidence to experiment with their identities. 

This new relationship with their identity afforded by TikTok and other social media sites has allowed many Gen Z people the space they need to learn more about themselves, as well as providing a non-judgemental content stream to inspire and uplift them along the way. 

TikTok policies on LGBTQ safety

In February 2022, TikTok announced a series of policy updates and plans for new features and technologies aimed at making the app a more safe and secure environment for young LGBTQ+ users; a move that has been applauded by LGBTQ advocates

It’s a sad truth that LGBTQ people are almost 4 times more likely to experience violent victimisation offline, and about 64% of LGBTQ people have exerienced online harassment in the last year. TikTok’s move to update its community guidelines to explicitly ban deadnaming, misgendering, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and promoting so-called conversion therapy is an encouraging step.

In a press release, TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety Cormac Keenan said “Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we’ve heard from creators and civil society organisations that it’s important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines.”

It’s not a complete fix. TikTok’s recommendation algorithm can send bigoted users into an echo chamber of hateful views. LGBTQ+ TikTok creators have experienced their videos getting picked up on the “wrong side of TikTok” and shared widely amongst people who engage viciously with it. TikTok’s ability to enforce guidelines also varies. Technology can most accurately identify adult nudity and sexual activities, violence and graphic content, but more nuanced categories – like hateful behaviour and bullying – relies on human moderators.

However, it is encouraging to see TikTok actively assessing the ways it can identify hateful behaviour and quickly stop it. In addition, seeing their favourite platform explicitly ban these behaviours is arguably affirming to LGBTQ youth.

LGBTQ TikTok hashtags and trends

The LGBTQ community on TikTok has been the driving force behind a number of popular trends. In the last year alone, there’s been the Blue & Red filter trend (which transforms users’ faces into more stereotypically masculine or feminine features, and has been popular with trans users), and the “limp wrist” meme which quickly became internet shorthand for “gay”. 

Trending audios like the “but you don’t look gay” clip (from the song Quién Piensa En Ti by El Trono De México) spurred a wider, viral trend amongst TikTokers all picking fun at stereotypes. 

Another example of a popular recent LGBTQ TikTok trend uses the song LGBT by CupcaKKe and features the lyric “I’m rollin’ with the LGBT”. TikTokers are creating light-hearted memes about slightly awkward but harmless interactions between older cisgender straight people and young LGBTQ people.

The easy adoption of LGBTQ TikTok memes across the whole platform like this is proof of how integrated these communities are within the app – which is precisely why TikTok is so popular amongst LGBTQ+ youth, who still turn to TikTok primarily for entertainment

For Gen Z, and reflected through TikTok, LGBTQ+ aren’t the butt of the joke: they are the conversation starters; the trend-leaders and the people creating funny or entertaining content that many people can relate to. 

What are the best LGBTQ TikTok hashtags?

If you’re looking to explore some of what LGBTQ TikTok has to offer, start out by searching through some of the most popular hashtags:

  • #lgbt 
  • #gay 
  • #gaytiktok
  • #lgbtq 
  • #pride 
  • #lesbian 
  • #loveislove 
  • #love 
  • #queer 
  • #bisexual
  • #transgender 
  • #trans 
  • #gayboy 
  • #gaypride
  • #wlw

5 LGBTQ+ TikTok influencers to follow

Lack of representation is still a huge problem in traditional media. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters were only present in 9.1% of TV series regular characters between 2020 – 2021; a drop by 1% from the year before. For TikTok creators, addressing this imbalance – regardless of their TikTok video subject – goes beyond the desire to express themselves or create learning resources for other people’s For You Pages (FYP). They are also producing the kind of content they wish they’d had access to when they were younger.

Of course, LGBTQ+ TikTok influencers are developing content as varied as any any creator – from food, to makeup, education to skits. 

But if it’s LGBTQ-specific content you’re after, these TikTok creators are a great place to start diversifying your feed. They often produce content relating to queer issues, and a visit to their pages is sure to be entertaining and enlightening in equal measure. 

1. @queenmojo

Fashion influencer, dancer and personality Queen MoJo (@_queenmojo_) recently led the cast of ITV2’s Peckham’s Finest and has even performed on stage with Lizzo at Glastonbury. She uses her TikTok to share stylish dance videos, share messages of body positivity and discuss LGBTQ relationships. 

Queen Mojo is not afraid to be open about her sexuality. We’re big fans of Queen Mojo’s dance videos, which are a confident mix of slick moves, great outfits and sultry freestyle elements. We recently worked with her for our campaign with Dua Lipa. You can read more about this dance-based campaign here

2. @elliemedhurst

Ellie Medhurst (@elliemedhurs) uses her TikTok platform to educate her audience on lesbian history. A fashion historian, she often posts videos that address lesbian fashion through time, and the significance of certain trends for wlw (women-loving-women). 

Ellie’s videos are perfect for anyone who feels like their knowledge of history is very hetero-centric  – and you’re sure to leave her page with a renewed appreciation for the colour pink. 

3. @evolutionofelliot

Uplifting media that focusses on the transgender community is rare. That is, in traditional media, anyway. On Elliot Douglas’ (@evolutionofelliot) page, though, users are invited to witness his life, transition journey, and a bonus broad selection of cover music, too! 

His bright personality and frank videos demystifying the transition process have made him popular with over 35 thousand followers – and he was also recently named as one of TikTok’s LGBTQ+ trailblazers

4. @gorg.on

George Gorg (@gorg.on) creates stunning content that often centres their gender fluidity. The Bulgarian TikToker has amassed a following of over 680,000 users, all fans of Goerge’s fashion choices and defiant refusal to fit into a societal mould.

While most videos on Goerge’s channel are showcasing outfits, (they are a model after all!), they also participate in trending challenges, share slice-of-life content, and post sassy comebacks to any intrusive questions they get concerning their gender identity. 

5. @doctorcarlton

With a bio that describes himself as a ‘Comedic Gay GI Doc’, Doctor Carlton is filling TikTok with a mix of funny TikTok videos – and seriously important health information. 

@doctorcarlton Post-Exposure Prophylaxis cuts your risk of HIV infection if taken within 72 hrs (sooner is better). #gaysoftiktok #bottom #top #tiktokgays #PrEP #PEP ♬ original sound - Doctor Carlton

By creating a safe space online to ask questions, Doctor Carlton is able to address the questions many queer youth are afraid to ask in real life. He is also well known for using his platform to share messages related to HIV, HPV, AIDS prevention, and other health issues that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community. 

Why TikTok?

TikTok’s popularity rests largely on its users. With the TikTok algorithm able to personalise each user’s experience of the app, the content they create and the communities they build are what keep the platform continually relevant.

For LGBTQ+ users, the hyper-personalisation of the app has made their feeds a source of positive and uplifting content from fellow queer creators. It’s the kind of content that so many feel they’ve been missing – which has established TikTok firmly as the platform where LGBTQ+ users can connect and thrive. 

As Vox reports, TikTok is also becoming a haven for “questioning kids”. The algorithm can help them explore aspects of their identity, helping them to realise aspects about themselves that they might not have identified. The increased representation of the LGBTQ community also helps to educate cis-gendered, straight people about other experiences and promote healthier discussions online. 

In the early days of the pandemic, it was easy to see that TikTok was where young people could congregate. It’s important to remember that for young LGBTQ people, TikTok is still that lifeline. Fanbytes Marketing Executive Jaya Dodla-Bhemah puts it perfectly:

“For many members of the LGBTQ+ community, TikTok is viewed as a great digital space to meet people, share stories and immerse themselves in queer culture. This is particularly important for Gen Z, as we shouldn’t forget that a lot of LGBTQ+ inclusive physical spaces consist of bars and nightclubs, which often isn’t accessible for younger people. From memes, finding support groups to sharing journeys of self-love, TikTok has become central to creating authentic connections for the LGBTQ+ youth of today.”

TikTok isn’t perfect, and brands and talent agencies must do their best to support LGBTQ TikTok creators wherever possible. But the nature of the platform, which connects users to like-minded people all over the world through creativity and shared interests, can be a hugely valuable tool to understand your Gen Z audience – and create messages that resonate with genuine support.

If you’re unsure where to start with reaching LGBTQ+ Gen Zers on TikTok and beyond, get in touch. Alternatively, we’ve written extensively about Gen Z and dating, supporting young people’s mental health on TikTok, the best LGBT Pride campaigns to take inspiration from, and how brands can and should show support for LGBTQ+ people on social media

We’ve written more about the LGBTQ+ community on TikTok. Why not check out some of our collections of the best Pride campaigns for examples of how brands can show their support, or our deep-dive into Gen Z’s attitudes towards dating? 

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