Queer Gen Z TikTokers taking over social media
Words: Jamal Grootboom | Images: Instagram
TikTok has become one of the biggest video-sharing apps, turning the social media space on its head, when it comes to setting trends in music, fashion, makeup, and streaming.
While millennials were the early adopters responsible for the Facebook and Instagram boom around the late-2000s, Gen Z has been the driving force behind the rise of TikTok. And as with most social media platforms, queer people have been at the forefront of setting trends that set the tone for the pop culture zeitgeist.
Three TikTok creators that have been making waves in South Africa are Oratile Masedi, Kamohelo Pule, and Kagiso Mogola. This dynamic trio have taken merged their respective platforms to join forces as a trio, taking the country by storm.
Individually, they already had growing platforms with Oratile’s skits often going viral on TikTok. His “Influencers at groove be like…” video not only reached over one million views on the app, but it made its way to the Twitter streets where he grabbed the attention of SA Black Twitter.
Speaking about where their style comes from, Oratile said it’s “from the art of enhancing and embracing our feminine side as queer people.”
He adds that dressing in clothes that compliment you as a person is "everything".
“Dressing well makes you feel good. The feeling is our inspiration, and the confidence that comes with it is priceless.”
Much like their international counterparts, Kamohelo and Kagiso started off making dance videos and participating in various trends on TikTok. The twist, however, was them jumping on local dance trends.
Mzansi has a knack for creating a new dance move for almost every new track released from the Amapiano genre.
An example of this is the Trigger Challenge which fellow TikToker, Victor Ivyic, created and choreographed the dance moves for the hit song by DJ Karri featuring BL Zero, Lebzito, and Prime De 1st.
Once the trio linked up and started doing videos together, it was clear something special is brewing. No longer were they just following trends but they were setting them.
Their videos of the three of them dancing in what is presumably a bathroom in a club, is where they really started gaining the attention of the nation.
And while their dancing is what blew their respective platforms up, how they present themselves is what really set them apart from others in the same space.
Aesthetically, these three TikTokers enjoy a high-glam makeup look and Kamohelo and Oratile often dazzle in laid wigs (“lace melted, hunty”).
They also wear what would be traditionally viewed as “women’s” clothing. In the queer community, they would be referred to as being femme presenting, which alludes to femininity.
The queer iGen’s fashion choices are characterised by bold and sexy cutout tops, racy bodysuits, and skintight crop tops, mirroring the global shift happening with regard to the gender binary. This is a visual representation of moving away from the concept of gender norms with regard to clothing and what it represents.
This fearless sense of dismantling masculinity and embracing a feminine way of presenting isn’t just for cis-identifying women but for everyone who chooses to. This is what has made them so endearing to their audience. Even 10 years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible, yet now, these TikTok stars have gone from millions of views to performing alongside nationally acclaimed artists at major music festivals such as CottonFest 2022, where fellow Gen Z social media sensation, Uncle Waffles, performed.
Queer Gen Z kids are making waves and not conforming to the traditional sense of masculinity or femininity and it’s giving icon behaviour.