LGBTQ+ Content on TikTok and Everyday Activism
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Due to the recent stay at home orders surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, young social media users have found a new creative, activistic and comedic outlet through the platform TikTok. The content shared on TikTok are short videos, any of which have the opportunity to become viral if it is shared with the right audiences. The virality is what makes TikTok unique and drives its users to constantly produce content. Just like on other social media platforms, many different minority groups have found their place and their people on TikTok where they share information, produce relevant jokes and communicate with each other. The LGBTQ+ community is among those groups and some content creators on the platform try to use TikTok’s possible virality affordances to spread awareness, destigmatize LGBTQ+ people and educate others on sensitive or unknown topics surrounding gender and/or sexuality. This thesis aims to find how the video creators are motivated to share this type of LGBTQ+ content which could result in social impact, especially on a smaller scale known as everyday activism. Therefore, the main research question is: how are LGBTQ+ TikTok creators motivated to create everyday activism within their networked identity and beyond? The theoretical basis for this thesis will come from three separate understandings. First, how TikTok and its affordances are situated within the general understanding of social media and the platform society. Second, the notion of everyday activism is explained. Third, the concepts of online, narrative and networked identity will be discussed and how these work together in this thesis. Methodologically, Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis is used to first analyse the LGBTQ+, activistic, TikTok video content as well the affordances offered by the platform for the textual analysis. Secondly, to interview LGBTQ+ TikTok content creators for the discursive practice and third to combine these different analyses and come to an understanding of how these kinds of videos are situated within the social practice. It was found that sharing stories of everyday smaller struggles by LGBTQ+ as well as bigger personal hardships and experiences of discrimination, in many different formats, did create moments of everyday activism in those who viewed and commented on the TikTok content. The TikTok users shared that posting those types of personal stories online and receiving positive, as well as negative feedback in some cases, helped in keeping them motivated to continue posting their LGBTQ+ life online.