Let’s take a look at this hilarious pop culture moment through a queer lens
BY NIC CROSARA, PHOTOGRAPHS BY DREAMSTIME
If, like me, your Screen Time widget is constantly calling you out for spending countless hours a day scrolling through social media, you’ve likely stumbled upon the “This is my Roman Empire” TikTok trend. But what sparked this pop-culture-fuelled moment?
It all began last year when Swedish influencer, Saskia Cort, started dating men, after dating only women for five years. She was shocked by “how bad I was treated by men, and felt a need to understand how men work”. And so she asked her followers what straight, single men eat and think about. It turns out that a lot of men think about the Roman Empire, like a lot.
In August 2023, a Swedish man translated Saskia’s theory into English and that’s when “This is my Roman Empire” became a viral phenomenon. Many people have been taking to social media to share their own Roman Empires. The results are both hilarious and insightful. I became fascinated by what pop-culture moments sapphics and queer folks from around the world deem as their Roman Empire.
And these are just some of my favourites…
It’s no surprise to see Cate Blanchett referenced by so many sapphics who offer up their take on this trend. And yes, just like @theonlylex, I think about her every day.
@theonlylex #duet with @E.R. Fightmaster I have never heard anything more real than this right here #lgbtqia #lesbiansoftiktok #cateblanchett #romanempire ♬ original sound – E.R. Fightmaster
And speaking of gay icons I think about every day… Gillian Anderson was also very popular on QueerTok.
@gillian_scully_fan #stitch with @emmy. Gillian Anderson, the female version of the Roman Empire 😌 #gilliananderson #gillianandersonisgod #gillianandersonsupremacy #fyp #romanempire #romanempires #romanempirefemaleversion #middleagedactresses #women #womancrush #lgbtq ♬ Im In Love Im Obsessed Rihanna x Casa Di Remix – CasaDi
The only thing more popular than Cate Blanchett when it comes to the queer take on this trend was Greek Mythology. And this made me feel so seen.
@sabrina.campbell4 Tell me I’m wrong… you can’t #romanempire #lesbains #greekmythology #greekgods #wlw #lgbtq #roman #empire ♬ original sound – Sabrina Campbell
stop asking the men in your life how often they think of the roman empire— oxygen (@plutoniumoxide) September 15, 2023
start asking the non-binary / queer people in your life how often they think of greek mythology
And we’re not just fascinated by Greek Mythology, but also Ancient Greece, specifically Sappho.
The lesbian version of the Roman Empire is sweet sweet Sappho drowning in Ancient Greek pu—— 🧡 laynie-rose (@thelaynierose) September 18, 2023
Taylor Swift was featured on many Roman Empire posts on various platforms. Specifically Gaylors (fans of the musician who believe her to be queer and theorise over her past connections to women) have shared thinking about all things “Gaylor” multiple times a week. I am a proud Swifty and recent photos of Taylor and Sophie Turner looking “thick as thieves” and giving serious Vigilante Shit vibes have been one of my latest obsessions. And this post from @godimsuchadyke proves I’m not the only gay thinking about these pictures.
Boygenius’ Julien Baker is definitely my Roman Empire. I swoon over her so much that my girlfriend refers to her as my “boyfriend”.
ask a lesbian person how often they think about julien baker that’s their equivalent to how often men think about the roman empire— emmy (@runawaywtaylor) September 16, 2023
Skins’ Emily and Naomi (AKA Naomily) are a firm favourite among many of our readers, and so it’s no surprise to see them referenced in this trend.
the lesbian version of the roman empire pic.twitter.com/idg0ZT3NXc— federica (@naxmily) September 17, 2023
Yellowjackets’ Taissa and Van are another popular onscreen sapphic ship that kept propping up. I hope to see many queer couples dressing up as them this Halloween.
the lesbian version of the roman empire pic.twitter.com/IjWjZWpzT9— jj 🕷️ WATCHED BOTTOMS (@reanimatour) September 18, 2023
This list would be incomplete without mentioning The L Word. And Shane McCutcheon, Bette Porter and Gigi Ghorbani in particular are my Roman Empire.
@starsandthemoon444 #wlw #romanempire #thelword #lword ♬ The L Word Theme Song (The Way That We Live) (Full Version) – Betty
If it weren’t for me deep diving into QueerTok to research this trend for this article, I might never have found out that Victoria Pedretti (one of my biggest celeb crushes) stars in a sapphic audio erotica.
Episode One ruined me.♬ original sound – Quinn
The masterpiece Portrait Of A Lady On Fire was of course mentioned in this trend.
@elfe_des_forets #collage avec @Julia Handra OUR roman Empire #adelehaenel #celinesciamma #bravoleslesbiennes #portraitofaladyonfire #portraitdelajeunefilleenfeu #noemiemerlant #romanempire #lesbianmovie #sapphicmovie #fyp #vivaldi #wlw #sapphic ♬ son original – Lila
We’ve all heard of the “Do I want to be her or be with her?” dilemma that many sapphics face, but many folks will resonate with the “Do I want to be him or be with him?” train of thought. I know I did when I was processing my gender identity and sexuality.
@erin_wright_ What was everyone’s gay roman empire?? #wlw #wlwtiktok #lesbiansoftiktok #masclesbiansoftiktok ♬ original sound – Erin Wright
And yes, everyone is still talking about and obsessing over the Lesbian Masterdoc.
personally my roman empire is the lesbian masterdoc— PANNA COTTA (@FAILEDM0DERN1TY) September 20, 2023
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