When Maihua Lee downloaded TikTok, she never imagined that she would become one of the most well-known faces of the LGBTQ+ TikTok community. With over 2 million followers and counting, she’s been embraced with open arms on the app as a lesbian icon—who likes to be called king, by the way. Whether she’s making POVs, thirst-trapping, or telling stories on your For You page, she’s always making people smile. Since going viral, Maihua has even expanded beyond the app, pursuing acting professionally, collaborating with big-name brands like Amazon and TomboyX, and even starting a YouTube channel with her sister, Gaonha, to connect more with their fans.
Lithium had the opportunity to chat with Maihua about what it means to have a platform, how her fans have changed her life, and what’s coming next for her.
Lithium Magazine: Did you ever imagine that you’d gain such a large following or get famous on the platform when you made an account?
Maihua Lee: It feels surreal. It gives me a platform to help other people, and I’m grateful for that. It was a dream for me, and I can’t describe how much it’s changed my life for the better.
Lithium: If you can remember far back enough, what was your first viral video? What was it like seeing such a flood of comments and likes on something you made? Do you still love it, or do you find it cringey looking back?
Maihua: My first big one was a duet with a girl—she’s straight, so that was the majority of what the comments were about. I think dueting with a beautiful woman is something I can say I still love for sure. I do have some cringeworthy things, but we all start somewhere.
Lithium: Your bio on your social media accounts is “I’m a [woman emoji]. Shocking right?” Can you expand on where that comes from?
Maihua: That’s been up forever, wow. Well, I cut my hair and people kept saying I was a boy. It doesn’t bother me but it happened so often that I got so used to saying “I’m a woman.” I keep it there so we can stop normalizing a question that we shouldn’t be asking anymore. Gender is fluid!
Lithium: You made a viral TikTok recently about straight guys from your high school who are vocal about disliking how famous you are on TikTok. If you’re comfortable, could you expand on that and how people at your school may have treated you because of your fame—good or bad?
Maihua: Yeah, I’m an open book. I’m a gay woman who dropped out of high school and these boys don’t think I deserve this fame. It stemmed from people not understanding that TikTok is a job if you want to make it one. Luck has a lot to do with it, but content creators work very hard to achieve these dreams. I won’t apologize for the fame or who I am; my fans need that message.
Lithium: Some people call you the face of lesbian TikTok or one of the faces of LGBTQ+ TikTok as a whole. What motivates you to be out and proud and open about embracing your sexuality on the platform?
Maihua: That’s such a compliment, thank you. Well, I’ll be honest—it wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t this proud at first. I’m a lesbian and it doesn’t define all of me. I’m also an actor, a friend, a sister, and a content creator. I don’t want anyone younger than me thinking there’s anything wrong with being who they are. I continue to be on TikTok for that reason.
Lithium: What are your thoughts on straight TikTok? Do you steer clear of it? Does it scare you?
Maihua: I can’t be afraid of people doing what I do and vice versa. The labels are there because it’s social media but we are doing the same thing and showing our art. It’s all just TikTok.
Lithium: In your comment sections on TikTok, there’s no shortage of thirst comments. How has your huge following affected your confidence and how you see yourself?
Maihua: I love reading comments. It’s made me confident in my acting. I appreciate all the comments, but I really focus a lot on the advice to become a better artist. Also, being called handsome just does it for me!
Lithium: If you’d never downloaded TikTok, how different do you think your life would be?
Maihua: Oh my god, so different. I honestly would have given up on acting. I might have graduated and become an architect or something with therapy to help others. Who knows, really. But I’m thankful for the path I’m on now. I’m glad to be here.
Lithium: Recently, you’ve been producing more content on YouTube with your sister, Gaonha. What prompted you to start the Lee Sisters channel, and what are you most excited about as you explore this new platform?
Maihua: Our fans told us we needed to start a YouTube and when the Famlee (our fandom name) wants us to do something, we’re there. They said together we were hilarious and if I’m being honest, I want to show our relationship off. We help a lot of people feel comfortable with who they are—why not expand that to more platforms? Thanks to YouTube we can reach more people every day.
Lithium: Overall, what’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects we should look out for?
Maihua: So many acting projects! My sister and I have a song coming out called “Voicemail (Faded)” and so many campaigns with companies I love. I can’t actually talk about much yet, but I promise you’ll keep seeing me. If anywhere, I’ll be growing on TikTok.
By Raven Yamamoto