When you harmonize the world of professional dance and LGBTQ+ advocacy, you get one of the most impactful queer groups on TikTok — Pride House LA.
Interview by Valerie Furlong. Profile by David Matos.
The multi-talented trio, Mollee Gray, Kent Boyd, and Jeka Jane are the friendly faces of the LGBTQ+ safe and inclusive space on TikTok, Pride House LA. Since its start, the group has accumulated a whopping 6.6 million likes and over 400,000 followers on the platform. They started coming together during the first few months of the pandemic when life became digital and TikTok transformed into the go-to source of entertainment.
“We wanna show people, you know, what it's like to be a part of the community and we want it to be normalized. We wanna have the same rights as everyone else. And we want to be able to have that representation,” Boyd said.
Their colorful TikTok presence garnered much media attention when singer and dancer Jojo Siwa came out in a video posted on Boyd’s TikTok account.
On Jan. 20, 2021, Siwa danced with the TikTok house to Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun,” which earned over two million likes on the platform. Later that same day, Siwa posted a video of her lip-syncing Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” which solidified her coming out to the world. As Siwa is better known for her sparkly child-friendly persona, coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was a big moment for a new generation of queer people.
“I think it really gave us the energy and confidence to be that safe space. I mean, we created that energy and space for her to feel herself and then it just so happened to blossom and grow and manifest into this amazing icon that she is now for our community and has so much more to offer,” Boyd said.
The house’s main goal is to carry on reaching out and uplift the LGBTQ+ youth population on TikTok. Boyd said being a part of Siwa’s coming out journey gave the group the “validation” that they can “bring out the best in people.” It showed that the TikTok collective has the unique power to bring LGBTQ+ youth together in a trusting and accepting environment.
“She's still so young. It sat us down and we're like, ‘Hey if we can create this space for Jojo, we can create this space for every single person that's questioning or wherever they are in their journey,’” Boyd said.
Pride House LA acts as a calmative environment to open up and have deeper, and sometimes personal, conversations. As rights awarded to members of the LGBTQ+ community are constantly being stripped and questioned under the legislation, it’s imperative to provide an avenue that enriches the younger generation on difficult and relevant topics within the community. While also still fashioning an upbeat and full-of-life atmosphere through dance, Pride House LA grants that refuge to the community.
“I know with like hot topics going around the world right now, in the United States, it's so important that there is a community for the youth to see themselves be represented or have the conversations and have the discussions about what this means,” Boyd said.
The three members of the house sustain an image for younger TikTok users that are far removed from overused queer stereotypes. The LGBTQ+ community often falls victim to the half-baked characterization of queer people in popular media.
As a collective, Gray, Boyd and Jane show that queer people can exist loud and proud outside of the forced depiction of queer people introduced in television and film.
“Lesbians are usually portrayed as like, you know, super butch and then trans people are shown as like a certain way of being trans and gay people are always feminine ... we look like your people next door,” Gray said.
The group provides a safe arena for the LGBTQ+ youth to not only have a reference point for queer-identifying people but a place for advice and acceptance. Topics on how to be an ally and the fundamentals of coming out are just a few examples of questions often asked of the group on social media.
I leave you with a piece of advice from member Jane to any LGBTQ+ child struggling with their sexual identity or finding it hard to come out: