Aidan Faminoff is a 21-year-old Florida State University competitive diver and Instagram “celebrity.” Faminoff grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, before accepting a sports scholarship to FSU in 2016. In October of 2016, Faminoff published a “coming out” post, which received a higher-than-anticipated amount of likes and support. Following the success of this post, he began posting high quality photographs that would eventually lead him to gain a following of over 100,000 users and an official “verified” symbol by Instagram (an icon beside an Instagram user’s name which indicates that the account is the authentic presence of a notable public figure, celebrity, global brand or entity it represents.)
Today, Faminoff uses his online celebrity status to not only entertain his users, but to be an icon of inspiration and an advocate for the global LGBTQ+ community.
THE POST THAT CHANGED IT ALL
Q: Where did it all start for you (the post that got the most amount of likes)? And, what was that moment like?
A: My Instagram started gaining a following once I came out [as a member of the LGBTQ+ community] in a post on October 11th, 2016. I was not expecting the reaction that came after. I knew my friends and family were going to be accepting, but I got so many messages from people I did not know. It was an amazing feeling and I cherish that day. Outsports then reached out to me and asked to do an article on me. It took me a year to write my coming out story because I wanted it to be a source of inspiration for others who may not feel comfortable enough to come out.
GET A GLIMPSE INTO MY LIFE
Q: What is the role of Instagram in your life?
A: Instagram, to me, is a way to share what I am doing in my life. I like to share what I during [dive] practice, which is usually dancing, but also, what I’m doing with friends; It’s a way for the public to get a glimpse into my personal life.
THIS IS MY INSTAGRAM AND NO ONE ELSE’S
Q: Being an Instagram user with a high number of followers, do you ever experience feelings of anxiety or uncertainty after posting a photo or video on Instagram?
A: When I post a photo, I post it because I love it. People will always have an opinion no matter what you are doing. I use to experience anxiety when wondering if people will not like what I post, but then I realized that this is my life. I do not have to conform to the wants and needs of others: this is my Instagram and no one else’s.
HELPING OTHERS THROUGH SHARING MY STORY
Q: How has Instagram impacted your life in a positive way?
A: Instagram helped me in a positive way when I came out [as a member of the LGBTQ+ community]. It let me share my story with others and news pages. I wanted to share my coming out story so that others who are in the closet can read it and get inspired. My goal was to be able to help at least one person and I thought social media was the best way to get my story out.
I AM WHO I AM, ONLINE AND OFFLINE
Q: Being a significant icon for the LGBTQ+ community, do you feel any sort of pressure in representing this cohort?
A: I try to represent myself on social media the same way I am in-person. Posting silly videos of me dancing is what I do at practice. I am not going to share something that does not represent me at all. I gained a following for being myself not trying to be someone I am not.
Special thanks to Aidan for taking the time to answer these questions and sharing his story with us.