TikTok and the Emerging Culture of “Homiesexuals?”

Kaylee Oppenheimer, Editor-in-Chief

There’s a cove of TikTok that amasses hundreds of millions of views featuring straight men displaying physical affection with their so-called “homisexuals.” It’s a perplexing turn-of-events, an unexpected form of appropriation, but it is catching the hearts of many, especially lustful straight women. 

A search of #homisexual pulls up more than 90 million views and 40 million results on TikTok. The anthem of these straight men is: “It’s not gay. It’s homiesexual.”

Are these videos exploitative or empowering? 

In some ways, these young men on TikTok are using the privilege of their straightness to push the envelope of homosocial behavior and break down barriers of homophobia by making homosexuality normative. 

Julia Gardner, a former TikTok user and bisexual senior, thinks that “American TikTok is a different playing field than general society…I think that online especially, gay people feel a lot safer” and added that “there’s a very large LGBT community on TikTok and straight people don’t really have the upper hand on TikTok.”

Yet the intentions aren’t so clear. 

Catie Cho, a sophomore, said, “I think that these boys are insinuating that gay people are inherently soft and sensitive, which I don’t think is true. That’s not the right way to go about it. In general, boys and males who are on Tiktok are pretty privileged in their platform, and now they’re exploiting someone else’s sexuality. I think that’s a whole other barrier that’s going to have to be broken.


She added, “In one of the [TikTok] videos, these two guys are like messing around, they’re grinding against each other, and then one guy tries to kiss the other person, and then they all are like ‘no, like, oh my God, that’s gross,’ you know that’s kind of like what they’re body language insinuates. And I think that is still upholding the idea that boys making out with boys is gross.”

Because heterosexuals may not have the “upper hand” on TikTok, they may appropriate certain steryotyically “gay qualities” in order to achieve fame. But why do two men showing affection for each other have to be feigned as homosexual behavior? Can’t these videos create a paradigm shift of perception and evolve the way we see masculinity without appropriating homosexuality? 

In the words of Judith Butler’s famous written work Imitation and Gender Insubordination, “Is it not possible to maintain and pursue heterosexual identifications and aims within homosexual practice, and homosexual identifications and aims within heterosexual practices?”

As described by Judith Lorber, Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women’s Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, gender and sexuality are unrelated and that gender is a construct and a state of being. Gender is also a performance; identity forms through the repetition of acts that stereotypically constitute a societal perception of “the self.”

The straight men who make these TikToks may feel that their videos are rebelling against the anti-gay rhetoric of previous generations, but in some ways their videos also undermine the struggles and hardships of so many gay people in reconciling with their sexuality. But their videos also are complex because by subverting sexuality structures they are only reinforcing them and the stereotypes that come with them. These videos may just serve as an extension of homophobic thought. 

Colton Hayes, an openly gay actor from “Teen Wolf,” took to TikTok in March of 2020 to call out the trend, saying “To all the straight guys out there who keep posting those, ‘Is kissing the bros gay’ videos, and laughing, and making a joke of it: being gay isn’t a joke.’” He added, “So stop being homophobic.”

Still, some see this TikTok trend as a sign of progress. Julia Gardner said, “I don’t really think it’s at the expense of gay people. But I think that I’ve seen a lot of memes that’s like ‘me kissing the homies good night’ or things like that. I think that because it’s kind of taboo for boys to show each other their affection, like they’re uncomfortable with it. And so it becomes a joke because a joke is a good way to get through discomfort.”

There is objectification that takes place in these videos and the vast majority of commentators on videos displaying men-on-men physical action are female, and they find it racy and sexy. Julia added, “Boys seeing it might be seeing it for the shock factor, because they think that it’s funny. Or they’re like ‘Oh my god, this is so weird. Like I can’t look away.’ I have mixed feelings about it, because I think that some of it might be to pander to a female audience. I know that a lot of straight girls who do sexualize gay men, which makes me uncomfortable because I know that straight guys sometimes sexualize gay girls.”

Catie added, “This is really just appropriation. It’s cherry-picking parts of a culture really for views. And it’s a culture that people work hard to protect and to have fought to exercise. I think the actions of these male Tiktokers are justified by how men think that girls making out is hot. And I think that’s unfair because girls making out should not be used for the pleasure of straight men.”

Julia noted, “In general, I think that there’s a much bigger stigma around gay and bisexual men. I think that it’s a lot more accepted, especially in high school, for girls to be queer. And I think that part of that comes from toxic masculinity and how amongst women, of course, you’re kind of punished in some ways for being too masculine, but I think that having “masculine” traits is also celebrated among women. It’s normal to be a tomboy. But if you think about it, if there was a guy who acted feminine, he often wouldn’t have as many friends or people would be like ‘Oh, he’s gay’ automatically. And I think that men are more punished for deviating from the standard masculine norm than women are. So I think that it’s harder for men to come out as gay and that’s less accepted, and so I think that does apply to the younger generation, even though the younger generation is more tolerant.” 

But progress is being made. 

Julia concluded, “I remember when I was in sixth grade, I would hear things like ‘no homo’ and the f-slur a lot, not directed at me but just in the hallway. And I don’t really feel like I hear that a lot anymore. And I think that American society generally is more tolerant. Being gay is becoming more mainstream, and more people are coming out as gay in our grade because I think when there were only a few people out as gay, barely anyone, and I think that being gay is more accepted now. And also we’re older. And when you’re younger, it’s ‘haha, being gay is funny’ and now being gay is much more mainstream. We know people who are gay and being gay seems like more something that is just a part of life rather than something that’s funny.”