On Feb. 3, Lauren Vlach acquired $eight on Venmo, unfold throughout 4 $2 funds, from a lady she had by no means met. Every fee included a block of textual content; learn collectively, they shaped what Cas Stephens, who despatched the funds, titled her “girlfriend utility” to Ms. Vlach.
Title: Cas Stephens
One of many execs of courting her: “Can do a backflip on a snowboard.”
One of many cons: “Haven’t seen any Disney motion pictures.”
Although she pursued her on Venmo, Ms. Stephens, 20, discovered Ms. Vlach, 22, on TikTok, the place her movies had been racking up 1000’s of views. Ms. Stephens, alternatively, didn’t have a profile image but. She figured it might be simpler to get Ms. Vlach’s consideration elsewhere, and seized on the Venmo deal with listed in her bio.
Her utility was accepted, and so they went on their first date that evening, to look at the solar rise on the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. They’ve been documenting their relationship on TikTok ever since.
“Proves TikTok is the most effective lesbian courting app,” Ms. Vlach wrote within the caption of their first video together.
It is a widespread sentiment on Lesbian TikTok, a nook of the app dominated by funky earrings and references to the indie musician Woman in Purple. Like different niches, Lesbian TikTok has its personal influencers, cliques, memes and drama. However it’s also a hub of group, the place these discovering, questioning and embracing their attraction to different girls can discover associates, solidarity and even love.
Like different social media, TikTok connects L.G.B.T.Q. folks world wide. And the impulse to convene on-line has solely gotten stronger throughout quarantine. In keeping with information from the market analysis agency Sensor Tower, roughly 338 million first-time customers downloaded TikTok from the App Retailer and Google Play from March 1 to Could 31.
“Plenty of my straight associates might be like, ‘Why don’t you simply meet folks in actual life?’ But it surely’s arduous to know if somebody’s homosexual generally, and it may be sort of anxiousness inducing to convey that up with folks,” mentioned Rachael Thompson, 20, who lives in Arlington, Texas, and lately met up with a TikTok pal from New Orleans.
In keeping with paperwork obtained by Ad Age in October 2019, 69 p.c of TikTok customers are between the ages of 16 and 24, which means many customers are too younger to enroll in sure courting apps (the place prospects are location-dependent), a lot much less go to bars (of that are increasingly few designated for lesbians). Plus, many youngsters are nonetheless within the closet, or determining their sexuality. TikTok is a spot the place they will achieve this safely.
Such a companionable atmosphere can engender spectacular thirstiness. On virtually any video of a reasonably woman, there might be a number of feedback asking, “Do you hearken to Woman in Purple?”, Gen Z’s female-specific model of “Are you a pal of Dorothy?”
That boldness has its downsides, although.
“No person must be compelled to return out, ever,” mentioned Olivia Boardman, 20, who met her girlfriend on TikTok throughout quarantine. She mentioned publicly asking if somebody is homosexual “places folks in an uncomfortable place.”
Ms. Boardman, who was outed when she was 14, mentioned many teenage women have sought her steering after seeing her on TikTok. (Her bio: “C.E.O. of giving recommendation to gays.”)
Not like on Twitter or Instagram, TikTok customers scroll by a predominant feed, or “For You” web page, of algorithm-generated movies from customers they could not comply with. This makes for a contained person expertise: Somebody can be part of TikTok, and in the event that they seek for, work together with or create lesbian movies, their For You web page will primarily include lesbian movies. Straight influencers like Charli D’Amelio may have droves of followers, but a member of Lesbian TikTok (or other niche communities, like Alt TikTok, WitchTok or Frog TikTok) may feasibly by no means see them.
Avery Blanchard, 20, who is understood on-line as Avery Cyrus, mentioned she thought Lesbian TikTok was “the one TikTok” when she first joined the app.
“I simply didn’t even know that there was a daily aspect of TikTok,” she mentioned.
If Lesbian TikTok had been its personal world, it could possibly be damaged down into many international locations with their very own nationwide anthems — songs performed again and again in customers’ movies. There are the cottagecore girls (anthem: Mitski’s “Strawberry Blonde” or anything by Hozier), the couples (anthem: Girl in Red’s “We Fell in Love in October”) and the aesthetes (anthem: Vivaldi’s “Summer,” from “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”), among others.
“It reminds me a lot of if A.O.L. chat rooms could come to life,” said Shelli Nicole, a writer who has covered Lesbian TikTok for the queer women’s website Autostraddle.
Influencers like Ms. Blanchard would occupy the most important territory in Lesbian TikTok World. She joined the app final October on a dare; now she has 1.6 million followers.
Ms. Blanchard met one other TikTok influencer, Soph Mosca, 21, on the widespread creator conference Playlist Live in February. They hit it off and at the moment are concerned. Ms. Blanchard mentioned she didn’t anticipate TikTok to turn out to be a matchmaking web site when she first joined.
“I didn’t comprehend it had the potential to, like, be the subsequent Tinder,” she mentioned.
“I by no means thought I’d date somebody from TikTok,” echoed Rachael Espie, 18, who met her girlfriend, Sarah Pye, 20, when she occurred upon one in all Ms. Pye’s movies in her feed. Their relationship is intercontinental: Ms. Espie lives in Glasgow, and Ms. Pye lives in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Lesbian TikTok has had a big impact on Ms. Espie’s life past discovering her a girlfriend. She mentioned the app impressed her to return out as a lesbian in December 2019.
Ms. Vlach had the same story: Having solely dated males, she mentioned she joined TikTok as a result of she heard there was “this complete lesbian group” on the app.
“I can’t wait til I expertise a love like this,” an 18-year-old person commented on one in all Ms. Vlach’s videos with Ms. Stephens.
“I hope you discover it sooner or later,” Ms. Vlach replied.