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TikTok as the new lesbian Tindr

August 2020

Unless you’ve been living on an internet-free desert island for the past five years, you will have heard of TikTok. It’s the Chinese mobile app that anyone under the age of 20 spends their days on, scrolling for short videos of frogs, pets, dance trends, funny memes, makeup tutorials – and everything else teenagers are interested in.

A less mainstream fact about TikTok is that it has become the unlikely app of choice for young lesbians, who not only use it to share experiences and find advice, but also to find dates

What might be a less mainstream fact about TikTok is that it has become the unlikely app of choice for young lesbians, who not only use it to share experiences and find advice and guidance, but also to find dates. To some, it’s the lesbian Tindr.

Lesbian TikTok is a niche corner of the app (others include AltTikTok, WitchTok and FrogTikTok, the name of which is tells you all you need to know) with its own culture, its own memes, influencers and sub-niches (e.g. the cottagegirls, the aesthetes, etc.) that even have their own ‘anthems’ that play over their videos.

TikTok is a ‘safe space’ for young lesbians, a place where young women who might not be ‘out’ in real life can explore their sexuality

What makes Lesbian TikTok’s emergence so surprising is that it was never designed as a messaging app, like Facebook or Instagram. Nevertheless, it has become a ‘safe space’ for young lesbians, a place where young women who might not be ‘out’ in real life can explore their sexuality in a non-threatening environment.

And, with more than 69% of TikTok users between the age of 16 and 24, most are too young to go to bars or sign up to dating apps, so it follows that it’s also a place where you might find love, never more so than during the coronavirus lockdown, when meeting up in real life has been difficult whatever your age or sexuality. In the first 23 days of March 2020, the app saw a 27% increase in downloads from the month before, as everyone turned to apps to replace social interaction in real life.

You don’t necessarily have to go looking for lesbian TikTok, or even stumble upon it. Instead, it finds you

You don’t necessarily have to go looking for lesbian TikTok, or even stumble upon it. It finds you. This is thanks to the use of algorithms. A feature of the app that’s missing from other social platforms is the ‘For you’ page, a main feed that shows users videos based on what the algorithm thinks they’d like to see. If you search for lesbian videos, create them or engage with them, you will see mainly lesbian videos. There have been users who have said that they didn’t even know that there was ‘another’ TikTok that wasn’t predominantly for lesbians.

It’s the perfect way to create ‘bubbles’ or echo chambers, where users only ever get to interact with like-minded others, and whose tastes and views are reflected back to them. This, to some, is unhealthy. But another way to look at it is that it’s the perfect way to create a community, where solidarity, support and companionship thrives and where you might, with a bit of luck, find that special someone.