When Tanner Armstrong, U3 Arts, joined TikTok, he did not expect to build a following of over 54,000, let alone an online 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Yet, when a comedic video he posted this past August went viral, the idea of a “Gay Agenda,” initially just a shared Google Calendar of comedic fake events, swiftly evolved into a collaborative Google Drive. Now, the Gay Agenda, as it is known, provides a digital safe space for people of any sexual orientation and gender.
What would become Armstrong’s first of many in his Gay Agenda videos series was initially intended to satirize a term that right-wing conservatives often use in their attempts to denigrate queer activism. After posting the video and login information to a Google calendar, Armstrong received comments from enthusiastic viewers, saying that they had contributed to it. To his surprise, Armstrong later found it laden with hundreds of events, from Sunday’s “Go to the gay coffee shop to drink ur gay iced coffee and meet other gays,” to Wednesday’s “Simp for equal rights.”
Nonetheless, the Gay Agenda was not enough for TikTok’s zealous, queer creatives. Unbeknownst to Armstrong, his viewers began creating documents in the Gmail’s corresponding Google Drive.
Beyond the initial collaborative calendar, the Google Drive contains a bevy of comical content, as well as helpful resources. The Drive is organized by folders including “Memes,” “Specific Sexualities,” and many more; the folders contain specific documents that range from book recommendations, to pen pal signups, to resources for 2SLGBTQIA+ members of different religions.
“It’s a community,” Armstrong explained in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “It’s an avenue for people to express themselves, an opportunity to laugh and relate from queer humor and [the] different nuances there.”
Although the Gay Agenda began as a source of comedy, it has grown to be a safe haven for 2SLGBTQIA+ Tik Tok users around the world, offering educational resources, social connection with other members, links to members’ small businesses, and an overall atmosphere of self-acceptance.
“I think that [the Gay Agenda] is such a tremendous opportunity to help so many people,” Armstrong said. “It’s reflected in the countless comments and DMs that I’ve gotten from people that are closeted, and are younger, and also from people that are in their 30s that have messaged me saying ‘Dang, I really wish I had this when I was a teenager.’”
The resource also offers an “Advice” folder to guide individuals who are just beginning to explore their queer identity.
“I think that [part of the popularity] goes back to […] sorting through [one’s] identity and trying to figure that out,” Armstrong said. “It’s such a daunting task on its own without the pressures from a conservative family, or other people’s opinions of you.”
Despite the fact that any one of the 19,000 participants can edit or delete anothers’ Drive content, there have been no such instances, demonstrating a shared sense of trust amongst Gay Agenda members.
Armstrong—while incredibly thankful for the community he created—is careful to point out that his target audience still includes heterosexual and cisgender people.
“I want to be cognizant of being able to reach [out to] other people and try to incorporate different aspects into my [TikTok] content that aren’t exclusively for the [2SLGBTQIA+] community, but also [for] allies,” Armstrong said. “I think we have to have everybody at the table to have these conversations.”
While heteronormativity and homophobia persists, Armstrong’s Gay Agenda provides a much-needed a space for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to repose, create, and connect. The community reclaims and redefines the homophobic term “gay agenda,” transforming it into a welcoming space for empowerment and camaraderie. As Armstrong maintains the Drive and keeps his TikTok followers updated on its content, he exemplifies the power that social media has to connect and uplift passionate creatives. Today, Armstrong continues to grow the Gay Agenda—and with it, the confidence and verve of TikTok’s 2SLGBTQIA+ members.