Imagine this (though I’m sure you easily can as we’re all in lockdown pretty much doing the same)… I’m sitting in my room on a video call with Lily Rose, tiktoker extraordinaire. She’s also at home and has become as accustomed as me to video calls.
Now to say I was excited to chat with her is a little bit of an understatement, given that me (yes me, 29yr old me) has become a lil bit obsessed with TikTok during lockdown. Safe to say she did not disappoint, but I’ll let you read and decide for yourselves.
Q. Hey Lily thanks so much for chatting with us. We’re excited to have you as our cover star for this issue. For the sake of our readers who might not know who you are do you want to introduce yourself?
Hi my name is Lily Rose, also known as @itslilyrose on TikTok.
Q. 1.2 million followers on TikTok (and growing) – we’re in awe. How did you rise to such cyber fame?
Honestly I just started it off as a joke and nothing serious. I started off doing the standard lip sync videos but noticed it wasn’t doing too good for me. I thought what’s the difference if I start using my original voice?
As soon as I did that, then one of my videos blew up. I was talking about relatable things and I was like ‘ohhh this is kind of weird but it’s my niche to talk about relatable things and using my voice’.
The more I did, the bigger I grew and eventually I just blew up!
Q. We saw you faced some issues with the community of TikTok. But that you also helped educate fans and followers about the importance of the BLM movement. How have you found fans have responded?
With me, I like to touch on everything that’s going on around the world no matter how sad it might be. But I knew that for my followers in particular, I couldn’t just make a 60 second video about the protests because realistically they’d probably just skip it.
I decided to make a 60 second video about the reality of police brutality to see it from my point of view and other black people’s point of view too. I felt like I was speaking for the whole black community.
The video did really well and I had people messaging me saying thank you for sharing this. Saying this is why we look up to because you don’t just share the positive stuff but the negative too.
I just made a video from an acting POV so that people wouldn’t get bored of it and stay to watch the end – which actually did well and was reposted a lot.
L – That’s impressive. There really is a hard balance between posting about both the negative and positives on social media and you’ve really nailed it. Making an impact and educating people is epic and something you should be super proud of.
Q. Speaking of TikTok, You partnered with them for their #MyRoots campaign, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah it was crazy! I think I’ve worked with them twice, for the Pride campaign and black history month campaign. I’m not used to working with big big brands like that and I consider TikTok as a huge opportunity.
They asked me to come in. I had to talk about some of my experiences as a POC and things people could relate to. At the time I didn’t realise I was going to be on billboards all around London. Then when I got told I was like “Whaaaaat?!”.
I just did it, it was fun and great. I received hundreds of DMs from people saying things like ‘I really look up to you’, ‘As a black creator you’re empowering me to feel comfortable being a black person with the stuff you’ve spoken about and now seeing you on billboards everywhere is very empowering’.
So that was great as well. It was a huge confidence boost. I just make stupid, fun videos on TikTok, but for them to want to work with me – that’s insane to me.
How exciting! Did you get to see your face on the billboards then?
The funniest thing is I couldn’t find myself on a billboard anywhere! And I’d even been sent the locations. But on the last day (31st October) I was in North Finchley and I was in an Uber on my way and I thought I’ll just look but I’ll doubt I’ll see myself but then I did. So I told my driver I need to get out now – he was confused saying my trip wasn’t completed yet but I was just like, let me out I’m on a billboard!
So yeah on the last day of the campaign I got to see it and record myself seeing it, which was great.
I bet that was so surreal right?
It was yeah!
Q. In your view, what is “Queer TikTok”? (Or what does Queer TikTok mean to you?)
To me personally it means the whole LGBTQ community coming together. Especially as I know when I first started on TikTok, it wasn’t that there weren’t any LGBT creators it was more that I couldn’t find them.
Now, as it’s evolved, my For You Page is filled thanks to people using #LGBTQ or #Gay etc. It’s really nice to see and it’s nice to read the positive comments.
My FYP is very LGBTQ and memes about coming out. Then I read the comments about people relating to it or making friends too which is making the community bigger which is really nice to see. Before it wasn’t pinpointed enough but now it is- especially with the Pride campaigns and everything like that.
My FYP page – yes I have TikTok even though I’m nearly 30yrs old. But my page is filled with content like that, from drag queens to LGBT bloggers – so thanks to the algorithm for my feed!
Q. Do you think it’s important to have a queer community on a platform like TikTok?
100%. Because TikTok is huge and it’s one of the biggest platforms that’s dominating at the moment. I feel like there are lots of people who struggle to come out or are struggling with their identity. So going on TikTok and seeing people being so open about it and how you can be yourself there and you won’t get judged, or that there are bi / trans / queer creators – that there’s a visibility for LGBTQ creators. I think that allows people to feel more confident in themselves and come out or make friends. It’s definitely important.
Q. We also read that you came out to your fans before your family. You must really connect with your cyber community to do that? How did your family react to that?
I came out to my supporters first. Growing up I was a church kid that was in church every Sunday. If I would see myself being attracted to a girl I’d think “ah no I can find her attractive, but I couldn’t see myself in a relationship”, so I kept pushing it behind me.
I would hint to my mum – but she was like “no no no you just find her attractive”. But eventually I could see myself in relationships with girls, not just being attracted to them.
I didn’t know how to say that to my parents. So I thought you know what? I’m just going to speak about it on TikTok instead. I wrote a 30 second song of me coming out.
My followers were super supportive, which was of course really nice to see, as I was super anxious to come out to family as they have such old fashioned minds.
When I did come out to my family, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it was rough. My mum didn’t exactly agree with it at the time, and was very against it. I think it’s because all of the kids were straight and I was the first one to be like yeah I can see myself with girls.
She kind of found it hard to believe – which unfortunately caused a rough patch and we drifted. But now she’s very supportive and now she’s seen me and how I’ve grown, (like cutting my hair) and seeing how happy I am in a relationship with my gf – she finally is like ok I accept it, it wasn’t a phase I’m happy for you.
Oh I’m glad to hear she’s onboard now. (I had a similar experience I relate too, I explained to Lily but won’t share the TMI details here. Safe to say we had a giggle about it).
Q. How would you describe your identity? (everyone has their own definition) and how do you view sexuality?
For me it’s been a rollercoaster to be honest. Previously I came out as bi and I was 50/50 between liking boys and girls.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m a lot more towards girls but there’s like a bit towards guys. But I know if I say I’m bi, people are gonna say ‘but you have a gf?’ and they put that lesbian label on me ya know?
I guess for me – I don’t want to label myself. I feel like in this society there’s a pressure to put that label on yourself. But for me, I don’t go by the sex, I go by the connection. I see the personality and the person. My gf and I have such a strong emotional connection.
So yeah I don’t label myself because society constantly tries to fit and put you under this label.
There is such society pressure on this. We’ve found speaking to creators, like yourself, there is this pressure and assumption that being bi and having either a gf or bf – people think bi is just the phase between being gay or lesbian and of course, as you know, that’s not the case.
Everyone has their own version. You could be 50/50, or 20/80* or not a percentage at all. It’s how you view it.
Q. Have you ever stumbled on bisexual TikTok? We’re big fans, but have you seen any great bi tik-tokers (that’s a word right)?
Especially after coming out. I made more content that was relatable to that. Then because I was making more content like that, the algorithm was like, she talks about LGBTQ – let’s flood her FYP with that.
Obviously I’m liking every single thing – yes done this, yes relate to this. My whole FYP is LGBTQ, cooking and animals. And I’m totally ok with that!
As for bi creators – NGL there aren’t many I look up to and that’s not because there aren’t any, it’s just that I didn’t know about them at the time. Now I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
Yeah it’s hard to differentiate when creators use a range of LGBTQ hashtags.
Q. Do you think Queer TikTok and Bi TikTok go hand in hand or do you think there needs to be more conversation between communities?
I think they compliment each other because we’re all from the same community. There’s not a point in being like ‘yeah gay people are here’ and ‘bi people are there’ – I’m like half gay how does that work? I’m one of you.
I don’t think there’s a point in separating them, as a community we should be together.
Q. You’re also part of ByteSquad – What’s that all about?
Back in, I can’t even remember the year as we’ve been in COVID times so long, I’d say about 2 yrs ago. I met Seb first. I went to the island and we’ve been best friends since.
There was an event, Summer in the City, which I wasn’t sure about going to as I had about 500k followers at the time and I didn’t think I was relevant enough to even go. Seb also didn’t have many, so we agreed to go to the event together.
I was already friends with Katie, she was going and had been before. Then through her we met Em and Loz, then through Seb I met Monty. Then after the event we all really clicked.
We were really sad we couldn’t see each other as we were all over the country. I had an idea that we all get an AirBnB and do a meet and greet in Brent Cross. We announced it like 2 days before, we didn’t expect it to be as big as it was going to be.
Let’s say we accidentally shut down the shopping centre and 2,000 kids showed up. I think from that one experience, we kind of got put together as the UK squad. We started going to events together and people would call us the squad and people would freak out whenever they saw us all together.
I think it was when we were at Vidcon -management reached out and said they wanted to meet us and put us in a content house. At this point I was like really?
It’s always been my dream to live with my best friends, and it happened!
It was only meant to be a trial month, which was last year. They said if it goes well then we’d do it for longer – as you can tell it did as it’s been a year now. I’m living with my best friends, creating content with them every single day and it’s been my dream to do this since I was a kid.
What a dream! I live with my bestie too, though we don’t create content but we do sing karaoke together – and that’s near enough for me haha.
Ok Quick fire round:
Top 3 TikTokers you’d recommend we follow?
Do I count if I say myself, haha? Nah joking.
I would say – if we’re talking about the queer community.
Seb – has amazing content especially the POVs he does and the acting. The make up he does is insane.
Monty – he has really good, original content that’s relatable as well.
Ohhh I don’t know if this creator is bi or not – but either way Eden is an amazing creator and she does these videos for people who struggle to eat called ‘It’s time to eat with Eden’. She basically sits down and eats with them and allows her followers to talk with her and ask questions. It’s so amazing the positive message she’s sending.
Those are defo my top 3.
I’m obviously going to follow them immediately.
Favourite thing to come out of being a Tik Toker?
For me it’s having people look up to me.
As someone who was bullied a lot and had to move schools a few times- as I was always the different one. So going from that, where people didn’t care about my opinion or putting me down, to now being this (as my supporters call me bi-con) and being someone they look up to, it’s really crazy.
For me one of the important things is keeping everyone entertained during lockdown – as I know it can be hard on people’s mental health. It’s just being able to actively encourage the youth to be themselves and reassure them that it’s ok to be different. Especially because one thing I needed growing up, is someone to look up to and reassure me everything would be ok. But I didn’t have that.
The most important thing is to reassure the youth that everything is going to be ok. I get so many DMs being like ‘hey I don’t know how to come out how do I?’ or ‘I came out because of you thank you’ and that’s one of the best feelings. – especially before COVID when I could see my supporters out and about.
I had one girl come up to me crying and I was like “gurrrl you ok? Did I do something?” She said I was the reason she came out to her family and they accepted her and I just held her and she was sobbing. I was like, do I really have the power to have such a positive impact on people’s lives?
Some people are like yeah I’m a TikToker bow down to me. But for me I’m grateful for my following of course, but it’s about having a positive impact on people’s lives.
Favourite Tik Tok video you’ve done?
Oooo I don’t think I have a favourite. I actually find myself funny and if I’m bored I just watch my own content haha.
Dream content collab brand or person?
Mmmm. Yikes! I don’t think I’ve been asked this before.
I don’t have a dream collaboration brand or person, I take every day as it comes. If someone wants to collaborate I’m like mmm do I like you, your content and brand – if so then sure.
I feel like if I set my mind on only people or brands I want to work with, then it will become so limited I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
Last one – this or that?
Do you prefer:
IRL or Online? Mmm tough one. 50/50. I’m a people person, I love socialising. But I guess I’m very online with COVID.
Cake or Crisps? Crisps
Date night in or out? In
TikTok or Instagram? TikTok – we thought so!
Thank you so much for making time for us out of your busy content creating diary. We’re excited to share your images for our cover and look forward to seeing more fun, relatable and educational content from you.
*NGL I struggled doing the math on the spot when interviewing Lily – how embarrassing is that. My maths teacher would NOT be impressed if she knew.
She / Her | Content Creator
Lily-Rose was interviewed by Lucy Everett