LGBT+ TikTokers and real-life couple Caitlin (she/her) and Leah (she/her) speak about falling in love, being outed and LGBT+ representation on Just Like Us’ new podcast series, Growing up LGBT+, released on National Coming Out Day.
On love at first sight
Leah: “I only knew about being part of the LGBT+ community when I was 19. Prior to that, there was no education on it, it was rarely ever spoken about.
“I think after leaving school, your eyes are open to the wider world and you learn so many more things.
“I honestly realised [I was LGBT+] meeting Caitlin – it was like ooh these feelings are different to what I usually feel. It was honestly love at first sight and we became inseparable.”
Caitlin: “I didn’t realise until I was 16. Similar to Leah, I’d never really questioned my sexuality and I think that’s because the world that I was brought up in, in society, it wasn’t really spoken about that much. It was kind of seen as the norm to be in a straight relationship.
“When I got to 16 and I was using social media more and saw that there could be a possibility of liking other genders, it kind of opened my mind.”
On coming out
Leah: “I waited, I was nervous. Eventually when I did come out it was about a month into our relationship and I peeked round the door and said ‘Mum, I think I like Caitlin more than a friend’.
“I’m so lucky, she was so supportive. She loves Caitlin and sees her as their third daughter, and so do all my family.
Caitlin: “I didn’t really come out, I was outed by someone who was supposed to be my friend.
“They turned up at my house one day with their parents and told my mum about my sexuality when I was not ready to be open about it because I was still questioning it myself, I wasn’t really 100% sure about how I was feeling.
“Thankfully my mum took it really well and she was actually quite upset with them for doing that to me and putting me in that position.”
Leah: “A quote we have both lived by since we both met each other is that love is stronger than fear.
“We hold that quote really deep in our hearts because when we were thinking about coming out, we said to ourselves that love is stronger than fear, and all you need is love.”
On the need for inclusive education in schools
Leah: “100% it would have helped, it should be part of the curriculum. People say ‘oh you’re so gay’ as a negative insult whereas if there was simply education around the word and how that can affect someone and how offensive it is, it would really help people come out a lot sooner.”
Caitlin: “Education is so important because people don’t understand – at school they didn’t understand – about LGBT+ because they weren’t educated in it and were just naive and ignorant.
“If they had that education in place, maybe there wouldn’t be that ignorance, it would just be like the way that other relationships are seen.”
On creating LGBT+ representation
Leah: “We wish we’d had that [representation] when we were younger from a click of a button – we’re nowhere near Harry Styles or Demi Lovato, we’re just normal people.
“I think the hardest part is when people say to us ‘how do I come out?’ We went to an event the other week and a kid came up to us and said ‘how can I come out?’
“There is no one way to come out, it’s different for everyone. Some people might be more verbal, some people might prefer to write a letter – there’s no one way.
“And make sure you’re in a safe environment before you even think about doing something like that.”
Caitlin: “I do feel like there are a lot more role models [now], especially Jo Jo Siwa.
“Kids already look up to her so now that she’s come out as well, it just makes it extra good.”
On becoming TikTok famous
Caitlin: “TikTok definitely does feel like a community, we’ve made so many friends.
“It’s really lovely – together we can all share our stories and by doing that, hopefully help others be comfortable in their sexuality.”
“It’s honestly very surreal. Up until this weekend when we went to an event called Tok Fest where we met people who follow us, it was a little bit like it was a number before actually realising that it’s people.
“When we went to this event and there were people that were physically there knowing who we were, it was crazy.
“We’re very grateful for it but it’s very surreal. It’s our full-time job now. We really started doing TikTok properly in lockdown.
Leah: “We’ve done it for about a year now and it’s just so much fun.
“In lockdown everyone made an account, everyone got obsessed.
“We show that no relationship is perfect, we all have struggles. We do some videos on mental health too because we both struggle on mental health. I think people connect to us because people feel like they know us.”
“A lot of people have questions and we like to try our best to give out advice as best we can.”
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