#parent | #kids | How TikTok became the Gen Z tool of LGBTQ+ education

If you’ve not heard one of Spencer Hunt’s daily screams, you’re truly missing out. This 19-year-old icon is unapologetically himself and we love it. Although he’s ebullient online, he admits he’s careful in how he presents himself in person. “I find myself to be more introverted in person because I’m gay,” he says over our call. “I get a bit timid because you never know somebody’s reaction to you being gay. After a certain point, you’re switch coding or you have to change the way you sound, because it’s kind of like a defence mechanism in case someone’s homophobic. I feel like it’s conditioned for me to be introverted.” 

Often adopting a more boisterous persona online, Spencer started off wanting to be an actor, but gave TikTok a go after his friends encouraged him. Now, TikTok has become a new means of presenting himself. “TikTok has given me an opportunity to be myself online and I’ve always wanted to try to do makeup and my friends suggested I do it. It’s pushed me enough to express myself in the way that I want to be comfortable in,” he tells GAY TIMES.  

As a creator and viewer, education on TikTok has been a big focus point for Spencer. “When Black Lives Matter was extremely prevalent, so many TikTok videos were about the movement and educating other people on how Black lives are oppressed in the United States,” he reflects. “On TikTok, you’re not necessarily allowed to have political advertisements, but I have been educating people on why I’m voting for Joe Biden. So, I feel like TikTok is already an educational ground. It’s not even just with subjects like politics, there’s like witchtok where people talk about their experiences with witchcraft. There’s zodiacs where people talk about astrology, zodiac signs, and spiritual awakenings.”    

“These subjects aren’t conventional subjects, but we’re still learning from other people all the time,” he adds. “I feel like TikTok is like a big community with a lot of sub communities within it and people are able to learn from one another. A lot of the things that I know didn’t just come from my education in school, but social media. I didn’t know some topics were sensitive, but TikTok showed me and I was able to learn about ableism and educate myself, so there are a lot of things that I’ve learned just from being on this app.”   

Spencer’s hope for TikTok is that it will continue to teach and educate others about important political issues, but offer a real, unfiltered perspective into the queer community. “Tik Tok is already very diverse and I love how there’s a big gay community on TikTok. I feel like gay people have always been on social media, because it’s just an easier way for us to express ourselves without having to fear being judged in public and social media in a way helps us feel more comfortable with ourselves. Being on social media and seeing a positive response to wearing makeup made me think I can do this in public. I feel confident enough to actually go out and wear makeup outside of just my room or with my friends,” he tells me.  

“Also, being queer on social media makes people more accepting of the community. There’s this false stigma attached to the queer community that we’re paedophiles or about transgender individuals and the bathrooms they are allowed to use. Being on TikTok takes away the stigma because people see you for who you are,” he outlines. “We’re not these monsters that people make us out to be. We’re human beings just like you. I see TikTok growing and I hope it does, because it’s just more of an educational opportunity for people to see who we really are and what we’re really like.”

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