As a teenager, I put my first-generation iPod Touch to good use and dedicated an inordinate amount of time to watching “Coming Out” videos on YouTube. In those sentimental, talk-to-camera testimonials, personalities such as Troye Sivan, Tyler Oakley, Connor Franta—everyday suburban young adults at the time, despite their not insignificant YouTube followings—would spend up to twenty minutes discussing the messy work of figuring out and then sharing who they are. There were usually tears involved.
Flash-forward to today and it seems that the popular approach to coming out online is remarkably different. There are more laughing LGBTQIA young adults relaying their personal journeys than crying ones. Case in point: Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp, who is 18, turned to the video sharing app TikTok last week to deliver some news. The tongue-in-cheek clip features on-screen text that reads, “When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years and all they said was ‘We know.’” He lip-syncs to a voice-over that says, in part, “You know what it never was? That serious.” Schnapp smiles throughout.
“I guess I’m more similar to Will than I thought,” Schnapp captioned the video, referencing his Stranger Things character who the actor had previously confirmed is indeed gay. The clip is peak-TikTok: casual, playful, and chock full of in-jokes. It’s also representative of how depressurized coming out has become for some. In 2023, some LGBTQIA folk only need eight seconds to come out, not twenty minutes.
Schnapp’s irreverent coming out is not an outlier. Increasingly, queer celebrities are becoming less serious about a serious moment. Hollywood coming outs have been boiled down to an offhand joke or impulsive post. Some of the most endearing examples? Joshua Bassett came out with an off-the-cuff Harry Styles joke and Lil Nas X with a rainbow emoji.
And TikTok is fast becoming the go-to platform for these casual reveals. Last year, actor Shay Mitchell, who has appeared in Pretty Little Liars and You, also turned to TikTok to seemingly come out. She posted a TikTok duet clip that featured another user asking, “If you identify as bisexual, do you own a green velvet couch?” Mitchell then proudly showed off her green velvet couch. Model Emily Ratajkowski joined in on the trend and showed off her own furniture. She later spoke more in-depth about the clip and her sexuality, saying, “I think sexuality is on a sliding scale,” she said. “I don’t really believe in straight people.” There were other joyful, flippant moments on the app. Madonna shared a clip where she purposely tries to throw underwear in her trash bin and misses. “If I miss, I’m Gay,” the text over the video read. The 64-year-old pop icon shrugged at the end.