Love blossoms amid pandemic, TikTok turmoil for two creators

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2020 Invision

TikTok personalities Ian Paget, left, and Chris Olsen pose for a portrait in West Hollywood, Calif. on Oct. 20, 2020. Paget and Olsen, gay partners in Los Angeles, have amassed more than 4 million followers who love and encourage them as they hunker down at home, churning out goofy dance videos and playing the constant pranks that are stock-in-trade on TikTok. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

NEW YORK – With love and pranks, Ian Paget and Chris Olsen are among millions of U.S. newbies looking to soak up social media stardom on TikTok.

The Los Angeles boyfriends have amassed a steady stream of fans, with more than 4 million followers laughing and encouraging them in comments on their goofy dance videos, heartfelt vlogs, and affirmations during a tumultuous time for the world and for the popular platform.

While Paget and Olsen, along with millions of other creators, aren't breakout stars like dancer Charli D'Amelio or Nathan Apodaca (the guy with the cranberry juice and long board), they symbolize something else on TikTok. Their care for each other shines through for a range of supporters, from middle-age moms to LGBTQ youth struggling to come out.

And they've grabbed their chunk of success after meeting last year and moving in together just a few months ago to wait out the coronavirus crisis as their new love blossomed.

Paget, 33, is an actor thrown out of work by the pandemic. Olsen, 22, is a college senior finishing school on Zoom. Paget is the wildly articulate one who's endlessly surprised by Olsen, the deadpan trickster. They've made more of the platform than the average TikToker, sharing their coming-out stories and milestones, their daily lives and kisses, along with some tears and rough times, like Olsen's hard-fought victory over alcohol.

You'll find no maskless “Karens” on their account, @olsennchris, or police confrontations, natural disasters or bullying neighbors. What you'll discover are two guys who have become the two gay dads to many of their “bloomers,” as they've nicknamed their tribe. And they often do it with shirts off and sculpted six-packs on display.

“We’re going to make the most of it and enjoy doing what we do,” Paget told The Associated Press.

Added Olsen: “We're letting people into our lives. It's something new that people hadn’t seen, especially from two gay men.”