TikTok Is Celebrating Mardi Gras Like No One Else With Epic LGBTQ+ Artists And Creators
Watch The Mardi Gras Parade LIVE on TikTok, March 5, 7pm AEDT
When Lawrence Bing was asked by TikTok to be part of their 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float, it was a no-brainer after having taken part last year.
“That was the best opportunity that I’ve ever taken in my whole entire life,” he says. “I had to do it for a second time. Growing up, I didn’t have that community, of being around LGBTIQ+ people and allies – the parade was very special, to be like, ‘finally, I’m a part of something’. Growing up, I didn’t have that.”
Bing, who has more than 250,000 followers on TikTok, is one of 27 LGBTQ+ creators taking part in the platform’s float on Saturday March 5, alongside drag superstars and indie-pop queen Wafia, who’s performing her hit ‘I’m Good’. You’ll be able to follow along on TikTok with the #MardiGras Hub via the Discover Page, which will feature a LIVE stream from behind the scenes at Mardi Gras and a view from the float as TikTok and Wafia take the stage. Anyone can share their looks and videos from the night via #MardiGras, too.
Bing’s been in rehearsals for the parade, choreographed by Leah Howard, the veteran triple-threat who is currently the Associate Director for the Australian production of the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill. She’s just one of a team of LGBTIQ+ creatives behind the scenes on TikTok’s ‘Shining For You’ float, including designers Nixi Killick and Fernando Barraza (who have teamed up for custom genderless fits), Sydney’s The Makeup Wardrobe and the Goldberg Alberline Studio, internationally renowned for their inflatable artworks.
This year’s SGLMG theme is ‘United We Shine’; what better way to embody that than by creating a vibrant and joyous float with all kinds of creators? For Bing, the theme echoes his own experiences on TikTok, which he credits in large part to living as a proud and out trans man, after years of being told by others that he couldn’t live authentically.
“I didn’t know transitioning could be a reality until TikTok brought that awareness to me,” he says, mentioning how the For You Page served him videos from trans people. “And when I found out transitioning could be a reality, that’s when I took my own place and I started to socially transition. I cut my hair for the very first time, very short, and that’s when my journey really began.”
That was in 2017, when Bing was in his final year of high school. Since then, Bing has documented his own journey as a trans man on his TikTok, reaching a community of LGBTIQ+ people, as well as allies who want to learn more.
“I wanted to be the person that I wish I had growing up for a much younger audience,” he says. “And it’s really awesome to see people reach out to me and say, ‘Thank you so much for what you are doing, because I wouldn’t have this knowledge if it wasn’t for not only you but other creators in the community that are sharing their own journey’.”
Bing will be joined in the parade by other familiar faces like Carla From Bankstown, comedian Mitchell Coombs, single queer mum Nat Alise and Kristian Zorino, a Melbourne drag queen and wig mogul better known as @styledbyesther. Zorino began making TikToks in mid 2020, after their drag gigs as Esther Rix stopped and they discovered TikTok was a perfect creative outlet at a time they were unable to perform. It caught on, with Zorino reaching 272,000 followers thanks to their funny wig-styling videos and drag transformations.
“It definitely kept me busy,” they laugh. “I think if I didn’t have my business and what I do on social media, I would’ve gone a little bit crazy…. And there’s been a boom in wig stylists around the world, which to me is really cool ‘cause I can inspire them and they can inspire me back.”
Esther is one of five drag queens on the TikTok float: she’s excited to put on a huge show, especially after the past two years of very few live gigs. But she’s found that she really shines on TikTok when she’s not ‘performing’ but is just herself, rather than the pristine, ultra-filtered queen people crave on-stage or elsewhere on the internet.
“You know, [elsewhere] you have to look a certain way, be very polished with filters, or make your feed look pretty,” they say, “but on TikTok you can just be yourself and be accepted for it. And that’s very in line with Mardi Gras, Pride and queer culture, as well.”
Check out the #Mardigras Hub and watch the TikTok float LIVE on TikTok, March 5, 7pm AEDT.