TikTok Denies Shadow Banning LGBTQ+ Hashtags

As if anyone is shocked –– TikTok is once again censoring LGBTQ+ people on the app.

For a bit of background, the Chinese-owned entertainment app has a history of censoring content. TikTok previously banned pro-LGBTQ+ content, blocked a user that criticized China and has stifled posts from users that were deemed “ugly,” poor or disabled.

Most recently, TikTok administrators admitted that they restricted several LGBTQ+ hashtags on the app. This includes “gay,” “lesbian” and “transgender.” The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) exposed TikTok’s shadow ban against the hashtags in languages including Russian, Estonia, Bosnian and Arabic.

When something is “shadow banned,” a user is able to post their content as normal, but it’s blocked or partially blocked and hidden from the TikTok community. Apps like Instagram use it to block anything sexual.

Related | PAPER People 2020: Meet 20 TikTokers We Love

“TikTok users posting videos with these hashtags are given the impression their posts are just as searchable as posts by other users, but in fact they aren’t,” according to the report. “In practice, most of these hashtags are categorized in TikTok’s code in the same way that terrorist groups, illicit substances, and swear words are treated on the platform.”

According to a report from Pink News, TikTok is denying that the app was practicing censorship. Rather, they’re insisting that the shadow ban was a “localized” approach to moderation. In other words, some terms were restricted due to local laws, while “other terms were restricted because they were primarily used when looking for pornographic content.”

Though the spokesperson in the report admitted that some of the terms were being incorrectly moderated, it’s unclear what measures are being taken to rectify the situation.

“We want to be crystal clear that TikTok strongly supports our LGBTQ+ creators around the world and is proud that LGBTQ+ content is among the most popular category on the platform with billions of views,” the spokesperson said.

Photo via Shutterstock

ICYMI: Kerry Washington’s GLAAD Speech Deserves All The Prayer Hands Emoji

Our foremost modern gladiator Kerry Washington was presented with the Vanguard Award at GLAAD’s 26th Annual Media Awards over the weekend. In her acceptance speech she spoke on diversity in television, what it means to be an LGBTQ ally, and, what people most often forget, intersectionality: “You’d think we’d band together and fight the good fight, but history tells us that no, often we don’t. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other, and made to feel like there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of ‘other’.”

But perhaps the best and most sobering moment from the speech happened when the Scandal star roused the crowd by breaking down the notion of “diversity.” (As the ruler of Shondaland herself, Shonda Rhimes, put it: “As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women
and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word:
normalizing. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world
looks.”) “I don’t decide to play the characters I play as a political choice,” said Washington. “Yet the characters I play do become political statements because having your story told — as a woman, as a person of color, as any member of any disenfranchised community — is sadly often still a radical idea… That is why the work of GLAAD is so important.”

Watch Kerry Washington’s full speech, above. 

Zaya Wade Runs Instagram Now

Zaya, the 12-year-old child of Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, has come a long way since she entered the orbit of celebrity last year. Most of us first learned about her when Wade posted a cute holiday family photo of Zaya rocking a crop-top and acrylic nails. Shortly after, her parents began talking openly (and admirably) about LGBTQ parenting, reintroducing her to the public as Zaya and sharing that she uses female pronouns.

Related | Dwyane Wade Reached Out the ‘Pose’ Cast About Zaya’s Transition

Now, she’s making moves towards her future icondom by joining Instagram. Don’t worry pearl-clutchers. The 12-year-old doesn’t run her own account. Her bio reads: “Baby Steps… Parents Run This, Consultation By Me.”

But even with a couple boomers running her account, after just three days and two posts, Zaya has already racked up 20,000 followers. She shared two outtakes from her debut red carpet appearance last month at the Better Brothers Los Angeles’s 6th Annual Truth Awards, which is dedicated to black men and women in the LGBTQ+ community for their achievements.

Zaya Wade on Instagram: “🤫”

Zaya Wade on Instagram: “😲🙄”

On the carpet, the whole family wore custom Richfresh suits coordinated in the color of the genderqueer flag. If this stunting is any indication, Zaya is destined for Instagram fame.

Gabrielle Union-Wade on Instagram: “Big night at the #TruthAwards2020 to celebrate our friends @jasonbolden @adair_curtis receiving the Business Leadership Award. We are…”

Photo via Instagram

#BeardedButtigieg Is Unfortunately Trending

It must be a slow news day, because Gay Twitter aparently has nothing better to do other than lust after shopped photos of a bearded Mayor Pete Buttigieg under the aptly named hashtag, #BeardedButtigieg.

Related | Why Everyone Is Thirst Trapping For Bernie Sanders

According to Advocate, photos of the Democratic candidate with facial hair worthy of the Scruff Most Woof’d grid started popping up on the internet after people started using FaceApp to alter the Presidential candidate’s appearance for — activism purposes? Sure, bears.

Not everyone under the #BeardedButtigieg hashtag is thirsting after the married candidate, desperately wishing they could hit “Woof.” Many queer people are protesting Buttigieg’s policies, arguing other potential nominees like Sanders and Warren would be better for the LGBTQ community. In fact, Over the past day, Twitter users partial to other candidates have taken over the tag and added their own primary picks to the bearded bunch. From #BeardedKlobuchar to #BeardedBernie, there’s a scruffy meme for every candidate no matter their current place in the race towards the general election.

While some Twitter users have taken on the tough task of compiling a collection of undoctored #BeardedButtigieg photos, it appears that he’s more of a creepy otter than a bear in his scruffier pics. Let the debate over an imaginary beard rage on, though!

Photo via Twitter

Call Dwyane Wade’s 12-Year-Old Child Zaya

Dwyane Wade appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to promote ESPN’s documentary based on the basketball player: D Wade: Life Unexpected. But things took a more heartwarming turn as Wade opened up about his 12-year-old child, Zaya. “We take our roles and responsibilities as parents very seriously,” Wade told DeGeneres. “So, when our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that to give them the best information that we can, the best feedback that we can, and that doesn’t change now that sexuality [and gender] is involved.”

Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union have been very outspoken about their support for Zaya. Following a December interview in which Wade referred to his child with she/her pronouns, he revealed that she later sat down with him and Union, asking to be called Zaya as she journeys into her new identity. In that initial interview, Wade vocalized his family’s support of Zaya, saying, “nothing changes with my love.”

Related | Dwyane Wade Supports His 12-Year-Old’s Gender Identity

Wade described his reaction to DeGeneres. “I looked at her and said ‘You are a leader,'” he said. “‘It’s our opportunity to allow you to have a voice.’ Right now, it’s through us because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”

As Wade and Union continue to empower Zaya, they are seeking advice and information from family and friends as to how they can most effectively help their child become her best self. Additionally, Wade and Union also actively work with GLSEN to fight discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, thus creating safer spaces for queer and trans kids everywhere. We love to see it. And so does the internet:

Photo via YouTube

Watch NikkieTutorials Talk Coming Out on ‘Ellen’

It’s been one week since YouTube beauty guru Nikkie de Jager, aka NikkieTutorials, courageously came out as trans to her 12.4 million subscribers in an emotional video.


Related | NikkieTutorials Comes Out as Trans


In her first on-air interview since the video was uploaded, the Dutch makeup artist visited Ellen Degeneres‘ talk show to share her stories of coming out and her experience of growing up as a trans woman.


On Ellen, de Jager reveals the blackmail message that prompted her to post a coming out video. “A couple of weeks ago I got emails from a certain person and he was not okay with the fact that I was ‘lying’ and wanted to expose that,” de Jager said. She added that the blackmailer had a “pressuring” tone of voice and threatened to tell the public about her identity.


“He was like, ‘if we don’t get an answer by tomorrow, it’s out,'” de Jager said. “I feel like his entire goal with this was to destroy my life, but [the] plot twist [is] that didn’t happen.”


Among the beauty influencer’s supporters is her fiancé Dylan, who de Jager said was at her side as she uploaded the video. She also shared about her mother’s unwavering support while she grew up transitioning.


Related | Why Is Too Faced Cosmetics Being Called Out Online?


“My mom is a queen, MamaTutorials is a queen. Even when we went to the hospital to see what was going on, doctors were like ‘don’t push it too far, let’s see where it goes,’ but then I came home and I was like, ‘Mom, I really want to wear girl clothes’ and she was like, ‘if you want to wear girl clothes, you’re going to wear them,” de Jager explained.


When asked if she still would have come out if not for the blackmailer, de Jager said that there’s “no right timing” to share her truth.


“I always wanted to come out with it, but it is such a delicate thing,” she said. “How do you find the right timing? There’s never perfect timing, so in a way, I’m not thankful to the person that did this, but I am thankful that it happened now, and now I get to be free.”

NikkieTutorials on Instagram: “today I’ll be on @theellenshow 💙 thank you Ellen for giving me the opportunity to share my story with the world! – photo by: Michael…”


As a white, cis-passing trans woman, de Jager acknowledged that she has privilege other LGBTQ people do not benefit from.


“I started when I was really young,” de Jager said. “I pass, I am blonde, I look cis. I want to take this opportunity to hopefully inspire a lot of transgender people out there, and even when you’re starting later on in your journey, that we need to accept that.”


In addition to hosting de Jager, the Ellen show and Shutterfly made a $10,000 donation in de Jager’s name to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that supports suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.


Photography courtesy of Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.