WATCH: Emma Horn dancing with her girlfriend, Bernie Van Tiel
Over on TikTok, Em makes comedic skits about everyday just LGBTQIA+ things—from when people assume she’s str-🤢-straight-🤮 to how lesbians flirt on the street; dances and lip-syncs to PSAs about labels, coming out, and pronouns; and don't even get us started on those so-cute-I-could-literally-combust-into-flames videos with her girlfriend and hip hop artist, Bernie Van Tiel. Catch us calling up the morgue because we are dead.
Simply put, it’s the way she’s unapologetically queer and giving a voice to young queer girls, reminding us during all of our darkest moments that there’s a happier colourful road at the end of the tunnel. Never mind the moment she asked her mum who she’d rather date: Ruby Rose or Kristen Stewart?
So, it’s no surprise that the Sydney-based queen is one of TikTok’s Mardi Gras ambassadors—alongside MUA Meissa Mason and G-Flip. To celebrate, Girlfriend chatted to the viral internet celebrity about how TikTok celebrates being queer unlike any other platform, what Mardi Gras means to her, her loving relationship with her girlfriend and what it’s like making TikToks with your mum.
The theme at this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is “Rise.” What do you use your platform to rise for?
"Rise is an amazing word. I think for me, my platform is all about embracing you for YOU no matter who you are, what age you are or what your sexuality is. Embracing your colour and letting the world see it!"
Maybe it’s just my FYP, but I’ve found that the TikTok community is more welcoming and openly queer. And, looking at your own TikToks, they’re charmingly and unashamedly queer. What is it about TikTok do you think has let people be so confessional and given queer people a voice?
"You are so right! The rainbow TikTok community is very very accepting and beautifully loud (we love it!).”
“The amazing thing about TikTok is that it allows people to find their community so easily, there are a lot of minority groups that have really risen up and are shining through the app and I honestly believe that it is because they have finally been given the opportunity to be celebrated for being themselves! TikTok is one of the most diverse platforms out there and I’m really proud to be an ambassador.”
WATCH: Emma Horn’s mum plays “who would you rather date” with Ruby Rose and Kristen Stewart.
I still think about that “Who Would You Rather” TikTok you did with your mum and how she rated Ruby Rose over Kirsten Stewart. Has making these TikToks helped explore your own queer identity?
“Hahaha I love that you watched that—my mum is such a trooper and she’s really so hilarious. Oh 100% it has, I don’t believe that we ever truly “find” our identity, I think it’s more so a journey and we grow each day from our experiences.”
“So in making these lgbtq+ TikToks, I’ve come to learn a lot more about how I want to express myself in regards to my queerness and even gender. It’s okay to be fluid and confident! To anyone who is reading this, don’t put yourself in a box—you can be whatever you like and it’s okay if that changes every day!”
What’s your relationship like with your mum? She seems like a great loving ally.
“I am extremely lucky to have the mum that I do. She has always supported me from the moment I came out in 2017, to the moment I am co hosting a TikTok LIVE with Courtney Act (Mum is a huge drag queen fan!) for Mardi Gras!”
“But what I love about my mumma is that she not only supports my journey, she also asks questions! She understands that learning about people and the LGBTQIA+ community is so important to being a great ally, and I’m grateful that she has that heart and mindset because it brings us closer.”
“I live in another state from her so we have a lot of three hour long phone calls but when we do see each other our relationship is probably one you would see in a comedy movie of some sort (we are both huge weirdos and I love it!). Love you Mum x”
What does Mardi Gras mean to you?
“Mardi Gras means no apologising! We live in a society that doesn’t always celebrate our identity and Mardi Gras is a time that we get to take over, throw away any judgement and fill the streets with love! It gives me the strength to keep going for the rest of the year.”
WATCH: Emma Horn dances to a song she made about labels within the LGBTQIA+ community
What does it mean for you to be a TikTok ambassador for Mardi Gras?
“Honestly, any platform I’m given that allows me to inspire others to express their real selves - I am here for it! I create content for my community and the fact that TikTok is helping so many of us creators do that is wonderful. It’s also so exciting, so stay tuned to see me dancing around while the magical G Flip performs at the Mardi parade! Woohoo!”
What advice do you have for people who might be celebrating Mardi Gras for the first time?
“Nothing is too much honey! Seriously—go big and try a daring look that you’ve never tried before but have always wanted to! It’s a time for expression and self exploration—you’ll never be judged here. Oh and prepare for glitter all over your clothes for months later!”
What advice do you have for people who live in rural towns or places where there isn’t a local event for Mardi Gras?
“Oh I truly wish we could bring the parade to every state and every town because I want all of you to experience it! However—don’t worry, I wasn’t exposed to Mardi Gras growing up and I was raised in rural communities too. So it’s never too late! In the meantime—throw your own party in your bedroom if you have to, chuck on some glitter and your favourite gay anthems and you can even watch it on TV too! Mardi Gras is really just a celebration of yourself, so YOU are all you need to feel the magic.”
WATCH: Emma Horn and her girlfriend, Bernie Van Tiel
We’re absolutely in love with you and your girlfriend—or should we say cutest couple award winners— and I think it’s really important that young queer people see and hear about IRL queer love stories. Can you tell us about your relationship and how you met?
“I definitely agree—we need to see more authentic queer representations in film and TV. My girlfriend Bernie and I are both actors as well, so we feel strongly that queer actors should be given the platform now to play the queer roles! It’s time! But, yes, our relationship haha. She really is so great and I feel blessed to have met her so early on in my coming out journey.”
“We actually met through mutual friends and she pulled me on the dance floor one night and truly, the rest was history. It didn’t happen fast per say, but I think we knew early on that we were meant to be.”
“But don’t get me wrong, yes we make cute TikToks and singing videos BUT we are extreme weirdos and have a lot of silly fun together, that’s the best part of being in a relationship with her. I’m one proud girlfriend.”