Harry Styles, Kit Connor and Yungblud are three prime examples of celebs who have been accused of queerbaiting.
Queerbaiting is the implication that you identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community (when in reality you don’t) in order to increase profit and sales.
In trying to understand why these people specifically are being put in the spotlight, it was clear that they share the similarity of being White males who will have benefitted from the intersectionality of White privilege and gender privilege in their lives. When we look at the overt, visible level of their innate privilege, these people are at the top of the food chain.
I expect that the people who accuse them of queerbaiting see this and assume they are trying to find a way to shy away from their privilege and relate to their diverse, heavily LGBTQIA+ audiences. A huge problem with this is that these people are assuming negative intent and are saying they think they know others’ sexualities better than they themselves do. One of our core values here at The Wellbeing Collective is to always assume positive intent (that people mean well) until we know for sure otherwise. So far, there is absolutely no evidence that these celebs are purposefully queerbaiting.
If someone were, by definition, to queerbait (their only purpose being to make more money out of this community) then yes, that would be immoral and that person would completely be in it for the wrong reasons. Despite this, there may still be a couple of positive outcomes: increased exposure of the LGBTQ+ community; someone with power potentially positively influencing mindsets and attitudes towards minority groups, and the bringing together of an audience where it is safe to express yourself how you wish and to openly be yourself. We can’t technically prove nor disprove whether Styles, Connor and Harrison are straight or otherwise, but we do know that they have done the above things.
My next, very important, point is that we shouldn’t be trying to prove nor disprove their sexualities. Your sexuality and gender are yours and yours alone. They are internalised, invisible qualities. Regardless of the assumptions that we may make or the implicit biases we may have, we cannot judge what someone’s sexuality or gender is by the way they look, how they talk, how long they’ve expressed themselves this way for or how non-specific they are when they talk about this subject. None of us are in positions where it is right to speculate or make assumptions about other people’s personal lives, whether they are in the public eye or not.
Somewhere along the lines of making it ok for people to publicly announce their label, it seems we have started to expect that anyone who is remotely ambiguous about their sexuality must make a formal statement where they are explicit about it. Because of how much it is talked about on the news, social media, etc. we have all got quite used to people having open, unfiltered discussions about their identity. It is fantastic that so many people feel comfortable doing this but we mustn’t forget how personal a subject this is. A lot of people feel very vulnerable and exposed talking about their identity. If someone expresses themself without explaining or doesn’t put themself in a box, it is their prerogative to do that and it doesn’t automatically make it a marketing strategy. It’s not queerbaiting just because you are an unlabelled White male, for example.
Putting aside them being LGBTQ+ or not, Harry Styles, Kit Connor and Yungblud are all great examples of active allies. I.e. they don’t just make marginalised people feel welcome but actively wanted, appreciated and genuinely cared about. If you asked me to name some active allies in the public eye who are White men, these people would make my list. What is saddening is that, instead of recognising the difference they are making to hundreds of people on personal levels – and how they have used their privilege and platforms to advocate for freedom and change on a social level – many have called them manipulative and calculated. How about we assume they have positive, love-orientated moral compasses instead?
Since writing this, Kit Connor has come out as bisexual, his tweet heavily implying that he didn’t really want to address the matter but felt cornered and pressured. I’m also aware that Yungblud has previously made a statement along the lines of ‘if I had to put a label on it, you could say I’m pansexual’. These are not positive accounts of people voluntarily speaking about their sexualities. I think we still have a long way to go with how we treat people and their personal matters.
For deeper insight into privilege and allyship…
The Wellbeing Collective has launched an online Equity, Diversity and Inclusion course which you may be interested in. This course has three topics: Assumptions and Perceptions; Privilege, and Allyship. During this course, you will discover the difference between assumptions and perceptions, why implicit biases are harmful and how we can combat them; what privilege really means and the types of discrimination and conflict people face; the qualities that make up an active ally and how you can gain self-confidence and adapt your communication to fit different scenarios. Click here to find out more information and check out our course. You can purchase it by contacting email@example.com.
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