Why TikToker Chris Olsen's Coming Out Story Is Proof He Can Handle Anything

Being openly gay at an all-boys high school was admittedly "isolating" but freeing for Chris Olsen. The digital creator talked to E! News about the importance of normalizing the queer experience.

By Natalie Finn, Spencer Lubitz Oct 11, 2022 2:00 PMTags
Watch: TikTok Star Chris Olsen Recalls Moment He Came Out as Gay

Chris Olsen doesn't always feel the need to weigh in on a hot-button issue.

Quite often he feels that the most worthwhile thing he can do is continue to show off his enviable hangouts with the likes of Meghan Trainor and JoJo Siwa, be the world's unofficial spokesman for coffee and otherwise just keep being his authentic self to the delight of his 8.2 million TikTok followers.

"My identity will already be something that can be of controversy, depending on who the audience is," Olsen told E! News in an interview ahead of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. "So one of my passive-active missions in having this platform is to try to break that down and bring normalcy to this identity."

Passive-active in that he isn't always trying to prove he's just another human being living life on his terms, or helping countless fans feel less alone or more comfortable with who they are. Rather, that's simply what the 24-year-old does.

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"I've gotten DMs in the past," Olsen shared, "that say, 'I come from someplace in Middle America, I have never really come in contact with anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, but seeing your videos really opened and changed my mind about it—because I'm consistently told, 'These people are different than us. These people are not someone to be followed. These people are not role models.'"

Messages like those have only fueled the Broken Dreams actor's determination to fight back against archaic stereotypes and prejudices by whatever means necessary—which includes creating funny, candid, raw and sometimes unabashedly gaga-for-Harry Styles content. The word relatable comes to mind.

"To just live my life and show people how very integrated and normal and seamless the queer experience can be has been really important to me," Olsen explained. "Not always needing to politicize my experience—while also knowing there are many moments that's what needs to happen—but just bringing some normalcy."

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And Olsen—who first carved out an online presence in 2020 with boyfriend Ian Paget but has been traveling the digital creation road on his own since their breakup late last year—has a history of making progress, be it personally or professionally, by just doing what comes naturally.

"I had my first experience with a guy during the summer between seventh and eighth grade," he recalled to E!. "When I went back to school, I told people I was bi, which I think was like a soft launch of sorts of my queer experience."

Having come out relatively early, he said, helped lay the foundation for the space he built for himself through TikTok. Which, he acknowledged, started with him and Paget appearing together, meaning they basically came with a built-in category tag.


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"If I were single, there could be speculation," Olsen said, "but I was working with a boyfriend. So having that be the first thing that was presented to the world on my platform set me up in this way of just embracing it."

And then TikTok did what it does best: Put the content people didn't know they needed within easy scrolling distance.


"It was kind of a chosen family," Olsen reflected. "And I'm very grateful to the community I built early on because, after the breakup and becoming a creator of my own, I'd already set up this community of love and acceptance that was able to carry me through. Now I'm able to share myself in a way that feels very authentic and free."

Not that he could have predicted he'd have a millions-strong audience of admirers or be acting in The Book of Queer back when he started eighth grade feeling like the only gay boy at his all-boys school.

"It's funny, sometimes people's first reaction to that is, like, 'Hot,'" Olsen said. "And I'm like, 'No. It was not, in fact, hot.'"

In reality, he continued, "It was very isolating. It was very scary, but I think I had gotten to a point where it was hard to hide after I'd had the first experience. I knew this was such a part of me. All of my friends were girls, there had already been so much speculation about my sexuality throughout middle school, that I just felt like, OK, the risk in this is high, but also there is the reward of feeling a little more free."

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The freedom didn't make up for the feeling of isolation, however—"I was crying on my way to school every morning, it was not good"—so he eventually transferred to a boarding school for the arts in Massachusetts, where, Olsen estimated, "50 percent or more people were in the queer community."

But tough as it was at first, he said he has no regrets about the timing.

"I always look back on it with a lot of pride and a lot of hope for whatever's coming next," Olsen said. "If I was able to make it through that experience, of coming out at an all-boys school and feeling very alone, then there's so much more I can conquer later in life."

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He also credits the experience for making him more resilient, especially since he didn't have the big, supportive community then that he has now.

"I still had my people who I was able to connect with a little bit at that time," which was very important, he said, and he stresses that having people you can talk to or identify with is essential, no matter what stage of life's journey you're at, whether they're your born family or the kind you acquire along the way.

Speaking of which, the process of coming out to his family also sharpened Olsen's sense of humor: He relayed in a recent musical TikTok that his mom asked if he was gay after she went to UPS to ship his too-stuffed suitcase home from boarding school and found a certain, um, personal item inside.


"That's a lot to unpack," commented fellow TikTokers Darcy & Jer with a crying-laughing emoji.

Referring to his sprawling but inclusive circle, Olsen said, "I can't imagine not being a part of this community because I think it is so special, so creative and so uplifting. Whenever I get those DMs that say, 'I feel comfortable sharing myself because of seeing your videos,' that's what I feel like has been my mission the whole time."

And even though they're reaching out to him, thanking him for the permission to be themselves, he's thanking them just as much.

"So many people are unknowingly giving back to me the validation that I'm doing something right, that I should keep doing what I'm doing," Olsen said. "It really has given me everything and I just want to continue being able to give back in whatever way I can."