16 LGBTQ Activists, Artists, & Storytellers To Follow On Instagram

Bustle’s Must Follow series highlights the game-changing voices to follow on social media. To celebrate Pride Month, we’re spotlighting LGBTQ activists, storytellers, artists, and performers, all of whom were nominated for inclusion by Bustle’s queer readers. On the list, you’ll find performers like Travis Alabanza, who chronicles what it’s like being a gender non-conforming Black person in London; photographers like Shoog McDaniel, whose feed highlights fat bodies liberated in nature; and activists like Corey Rae, who makes trans joy visible to her 31K+ followers. These are people who will push your boundaries, make you feel safe, and teach you how to truly be yourself. Get ready to hit the follow button.

Jess Guilbeaux, @jesslayica

I’m a strong, Black lesbian woman who spends my time and energy on activism, modeling, and being a speaker. Through my platforms, I focus on vulnerability, mental health, and self-compassion through posts involving Black voices, the LGBTQ+ community, and much more.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I just want people to feel like there's a place for them to talk about victories, pitfalls, and everything in between. My hope is to foster a community by uplifting others.

Must follow: @hotmessbian

Ashley R.T. Yergens, @versatilerockbottom

I'm a go-go dancer, choreographer, and personal trainer who happens to be transgender.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

As queer narratives become more popular, I think it will be even more important to challenge queer assimilation and respectability politics. I hope people see my Instagram as a brave space and a respectability-free zone.

Must follow: @coleescola

Scarlett Snow, @tinysnowdancer

I'm a classically trained dancer turned neo-burlesque performer, traveling both coasts and dancing with queer cuties all over the country! The freedom of expression, sexuality, and body love is my top priority, which led me to start @honeyburlesque, an LGBTQ womxn troupe and community, in New York City circa 2017. I will always put my best foot forward to create safe spaces and spread messages of inclusivity and love.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

That being yourself is more than enough. You can't be compared to anyone else, because you are YOU and YOU are incredibly unique. And maybe come see some shows so I can hug you to pieces!

Must follow: @danieallover

Vivek Shraya, @vivekshraya

I’m an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film. My bestselling book I’m Afraid of Men was her­ald­ed by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel,” and my album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part‑Time Woman, was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize. I’m also a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Calgary.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

Be creative. Explore everything. Try anything. Be anyone.

Must follow: cicelybelle_xo

Jacob Tobia, @jacobtobia

I’m a producer, actor, author, and trans Hollywood goblin. I run around the entertainment industry pitching trans- and nonbinary-centered stories, because the more trans/queer characters we can put on television, the more empathy we develop for trans/queer people. And the more empathy we have in culture, the safer and more economically empowered trans and nonbinary people will be. I also like to yell about body fascism in Hollywood — like why does every leading actor have to have abs and/or be a stick? I want more cute bellies on TV.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I hope people are able to get a little messier with their gender, take more risks, and try out new things. As a trans/nonbinary/queer community, we derive our courage from one another. I'm just trying to pay forward the courage I've gotten from all of the trans/nonbinary heroes in my life. I also hope people will walk away from my account knowing that glamorous fashion and taxing the living sh*t out of rich people are not mutually exclusive.

Must follow: @QueerAppalachia

Gabrielle Alexa, @gabalexa

I'm a writer and digital creator using my work to educate around identity and sexuality. I have bylines in LGBTQ Nation, The Independent, and Bitch Media. I'm also deeply invested in using tech to enhance human connection.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I hope they learn more about marginalized identities and themselves.

Must follow: @polyamorousblackgirl

Travis Alabanza, @travisalabanza

I'm a London-based performer, theatremaker, and writer. I have used my art and online space to document the experiences of being a gender non-conforming Black person in the UK. My recent show BURGERZ has toured internationally, and won the Edinburgh Fringe Total Theatre award for [an Emerging Company/Artist].

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I think my views about my page have changed in the last year, and I think it's important to note that I don't see my "page" as a learning source or a function beyond just being my social media. A place for me to express myself online. But I hope that people who follow it get access to an art or viewpoint they maybe can't physically get to at the moment, and an insight into another person's perspective. (And of course, incredible outfits lol).

Must follow: @ladydangfua, @marikiscrycrycry, @alokvmenon, @attzs_

ALOK, @alokvenon

I am a gender non-conforming writer, performance artist, and fashionist@ who makes work about trauma, belonging, and the human condition. I'm the author of the poetry book Femme In Public (2017) and the political manifesto Beyond the Gender Binary (2020). I have a lot of feelings!

What do you hope people take away from following you?

The power of creative self-expression and vulnerability, building a life of purpose and intention despite societal backlash.

Must follow: @travisalabanza

Corey Rae, @imcoreyrae

I'm an activist, actress, model, and storyteller. I was born transgender, and started my transition in 2009 when I was 16. Soon after, I became the world’s first openly transgender girl to be crowned Prom Queen. After high school, I kept my transition a secret for five years, but eventually told my story publicly in 2016 through my first blog post titled, "Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself." Since then, I've continued to open up the conversation and educate others about being transgender, and use my voice to help individuals in the LGBTQ+ community who are struggling.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

Transgender people can be beautiful, happy, and successful. As important as it is to continue to share the trials, tribulations, and trauma that we go through as people of trans experience, I want the world to see us as human beings who have the right to equality, and who can lead joyful lives.

Must follow: @GigiGorgeous, @ItGetsBetter

Bethany C. Meyers, @bethanycmeyers, @thebecomeproject

I’m the founder and CEO of the be.come project, an inclusive and body-neutral approach to at-home fitness. As a nonbinary person (they/them pronouns please!) I’m passionate about making the fitness world a more inclusive space for all people regardless of gender, size, status, or race. My approach to fitness is through a “body-neutral lens,” or the idea of shifting from self-criticism to a middle ground of acceptance of one’s body. I have two rescue chihuahuas, hairy legs, a supportive spouse, and I reside in New York City.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I hope those who follow will recognize the authenticity of everything I do. My Instagram isn’t for the followers or likes or the "hashtag ads," it’s a platform to honestly express real-life stuff. I’m queer, I’m poly, I’m nonbinary, I’m recovered from an eating disorder, I think beauty standards are bullsh*t, and I’m learning (or rather unlearning) as I go. My goal is to remind people that no matter how different we may seem, we aren’t actually that different at all. Knowledge helps dissipate fear and I hope to be a part of that.

Must follow: @themshealth, @raindovemodel, @lachrwatson

Pidgeon, @pidgeo_n

I’m just your local hermaphrodite — with attitude. I want to see a world where intersex kids can grow up to be intersex adults, without undergoing unnecessary and forced cosmetic genital and reproductive organ surgeries. I live on the West side of Chicago, and love taking care of my garden, two kittens, and four new baby chickens!

What do you hope people take away from following you?

A sense of urgency about the need to #EndIntersexSurgery, and that intersex people are beautiful and lovable just the way we’re born. I also want people to understand that there’s more to intersex people than just being intersex; there are other dimensions of who we are that are equally worth caring about. Also, I like to make people laugh so I hope folks laugh once in a while at my antics.

Must Follow: @lalobalocashares, @urdoingreat, @alokvmenon, @indyamoore, @theunapologeticallybrownseries, @ellosteph

Makenna Misuraco, @makenna.mis

I am 25 and an active member of the Philadelphia-based LGBTQ community. I am a published author and I am currently in the process of publishing my second book. I love to travel, spend time with family and friends, and play music.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

My Instagram is primarily made up of my writing and my life as a lesbian. I hope that people are able to take something away from my words. I hope they inspire people, help people out of dark places, and give people the courage to be comfortable with who they are. I am very dedicated to my following and I always reply to my DMs when anyone, including LGBTQ members, is struggling. My main goal is to make my Instagram a safe space for everyone.

Must follow: @rkrelentless, @alissa_butt, @chloefrayne.

Fran Tirado, @fransquishco

I’m the host of Food 4 Thot and other podcasts, a strategist behind Pride campaigns, as well as a former leading editor at Out, Hello Mr., and most recently, Netflix. I was called a “queer champion” by The New York Times and I spend time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

That queer and trans people, and Black and brown people, are the most extraordinary people in the world, and they are often the invisibilized creators of the greatest cultural moments in the “mainstream,” despite not belonging to it. It is our work to remind everyone of that fact.

Must follow: @realmisspiggy

Adam Eli, @adameli

I am a queer Jewish writer and community organizer based in New York City. My first book, The New Queer Conscience, was released on June 2 by Penguin Teen. I am the founder of international activist group Voices4 and I often speak about the issues I have with my body image and weight. I am obsessed with Princess Diana.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

The idea that queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere. That being queer means you are never alone because you are part of something greater than yourself.

Must follow: @Voices4London, @hopedisguised, @inter_sexy

Shoog McDaniel, @shooglet

I’m a fat, queer Floridian freak who has been creating art in the swamps from an early age. I’m inspired by Florida flora and fauna and the beautiful fatties I photograph. I love color and patterns and creating alternative worlds to escape the one I’m in. I’m a photographer by trade and themes of nature worship and fat liberation can be seen throughout my work.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

Through my work I have learned to deeply love myself in a way I never thought was possible. I hope by following me, I am able to help others find that critical love — a tool so important in the fight for our JOY against this queerphobic, fat-hating society.

Must follow: @queerappalachia

Amy Quichiz, @imsecretlyacat

I am an advocate for mental health awareness, reproductive rights, food justice, and creating queer POC-centered spaces. I’m passionate about recreating a world where marginalized voices are highlighted and matter through writing and organizing.

What do you hope people take away from following you?

I hope they take away wisdom and information about topics that I advocate for. I also encourage folks to be themselves, travel the world if they can, and to be kind.

Must follow: @theunapologeticallybrownseries, @pidgeo_n, @quirkyrican

Interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.