By Allison Bloom, Communications Consultant GLAAD.org | September 29, 2022
GLAAD’s annual 20 under 20 list honors young LGBTQ people who are accelerating acceptance of the LGBTQ community while shaping the future of news, entertainment, social, and all forms of media.
There is nothing more Gen-Z than TikTok. According to Forbes, “TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform in history.” Of the app’s current 1 billion users, 60% of them belong to Gen-Z. In today’s social media centric world, there is no shortage of influencers who got their start on the app. What’s special about these 6 creators is their decision to use their platform to promote real, lasting change in the world. These LGBTQ creators are activists, models, musicians, and business owners but they are also the voice of their generation. By simply having the courage to be themselves, they are helping others do the same
See how 6 of GLAAD’s 20 Under 20 class of 2022 are using TikTok as a means to make the world a better and more accepting place.
Activist Giiwedin Indizhinikaaz is using TikTok to speak on some of the most overlooked issues going on in North America. From fighting to reclaim land from colonizers to protesting the construction of Line 3, this Indigenous creator from the Anishinaabe Tribe is also educating followers on the Ojibwe language and culture, life on a reservation in North America, and the Two Spirit identity.
With over 400k followers, the 20-year-old college student is opening up Americans’ eyes to the fact that we are living on Native Land and that “being queer was not demonized in the Americas prior to colonization.”
Model and TikTok creator Alex Consani is taking not only the internet, but the fashion world by storm. Vogue has declared her “The Master of Gen-Z humor.” At only 19, this rising model has walked for some of the biggest names in fashion from Versace to Alexander McQueen. On top of this, she has won over the hearts of over a million combined followers on her accounts @captiancroook and @ms.mawma, through her comedic and fashion forward Tik Tok content.
Consani is living proof that it does get better. In an interview with Vogue, she said “Especially as a young trans girl, I always saw the lack of representation. I wanted to fill the void and show other trans and nonbinary people that it was beautiful to be trans—not something to be ashamed of.”
What started as a social media campaign called “TikTok For Biden” has since grown into a coalition of over 500 young creators working to “take down whistleblower tiplines, urge their representatives to pass climate legislation, and so much more.” Gen-Z for Change has a lot of people to thank for its success thus far but would have never been possible without the man behind the idea; Aidan Kohn-Murphy.
If being the founder and executive director of Gen-Z for Change wasn’t enough for his Harvard resume, 18-year old Aidan Kohn-Murphy was also the host of the Next Generation Politics Podcast, “a politics-focused show created by Gen-Z for Gen-Z to help make staying informed easier and help the next generation of voters become more politically aware and active.” On the podcast, he and his friends played games like “Who said it: Donald Trump or Sue Sylvester?” with Glee star Kevin McHale and had serious conversations about topics such as police reform, climate activism, transgender rights, voting rights, mental health, ICE, censorship, and so much more.
Kohn-Murphy is also the owner of a hysterical yet educational TikTok account with nearly 300k followers.
His work as an activist not only helps raise awareness for these social issues, but helps make politics more accessible and interesting for young people.
Also known as “Greg Abbot’s Arch Enemy,” Olivia Julianna is a 19-year-old activist making waves in the world of politics. From Twitter debates with Republican politicians to defending her rights in protests across the country, Julianna brings new meaning to the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas.”
Julianna, who got her start as a strategist for Gen-Z for Change, made headlines this July for her public confrontation with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. The congressman thought he could get away with harassing and body shaming a teenage girl on Twitter; he didn’t know who he was messing with.
In response to his attack, Julianna and her followers helped raise over 2 million dollars for abortion funds. Her and her followers went as far as to create Thank You cards for Gaetz help in the pro-choice movement and make donations to abortion clinics on his behalf.
Up and coming pop star Jade LeMac is changing the face of music. Not only are her songs and music videos like “Aimed to Kill” and “Constellations” unapologetically queer, but she proudly documents her life as an out and proud lesbian on her TikTok with over 1 million followers.
Lyrics like “My mind has a place where it goes when I don’t feel safe, it pictures us two at the altar, saying I do,” mean so much to queer fans when they’re sung openly by a woman, to a woman. Her songs already have tens of millions of streams, and she is only just getting started.
In 2019, 52.8 million viewers watched her dance to Usher’s “I Don’t Mind,” marking Danielle Cohn as one of TikTok’s earliest stars. Since then, Danielle has moved on to bigger and better things. At only 18, Danielle Cohn is the owner of the first teen owned feminine brand, Feel Divine, a plant-based body care line.
Cohn came out as pansexual to her audience of nearly 20 million followers in 2021. Cohn has also bravely used her platform speak publicly about the abortion she had at a young age. Her story resonated with viewers all over the world and helped open up the conversation on this timely and important topic.
For these 6 creators, TikTok is more than just an app to learn new dances and keep up with celebrity drama: it’s their voice. It’s their avenue to create change and promote acceptance.
The power of young people’s voices is more important than ever, and these 6 creators are not backing down from a fight. Do not underestimate Generation Z!