How many of you had everything about yourself figured out in your teens? And would you think the same experience applies to everybody? Surely not. Sexuality, being an almost open discussion during these times, is not something that everyone has figured out about themselves. Even if they have, not everyone wants to tell the whole world about it. It is a personal attribute and if a person wants to keep it private, they have the right to do so. But apparently for celebrities, it’s a crime to keep anything to themselves. A recent example of this is Kit Connor from Heartstopper, who had to come out after people harassed him for ‘queerbaiting’. To give more perspective to this, he is an 18-year-old guy.
Ironically, Heartstopper is show that creates a safe space for all LGBT+ youth, whether out or closeted. How can fans of such a show be so ruthless towards one of its lead actors? I think it’s because this is the internet, a place filled with anonymous profiles who have successfully misinterpreted their obsession as mere liking of a celebrity. With regard to sexuality, these obsessions have been illustrated with examples throughout the years – Larry Stylinson (Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles) or Camren (Camilla Cabello and Lauren Jauregui), for instance. People were convinced (and some still are) that their favourites had secret relationships. For a minute, let’s assume it’s the truth. They made a choice to keep it a secret, then they find their fans looking at every little detail of any action showing endearment and obsessing over it on social media. This is a form of outing.
The ‘need’ to know may stem from the lack of representation in the past but we need to understand that being wronged in the past doesn’t give anyone the right to wrong someone else ever. Shawn Mendes, Tom Hardy, Harry Styles and so many others have been subjected to millions of people speculating about their sexualities, and accusing them of queerbaiting if they don’t come out. If you have a problem with someone not coming out as queer, then stop associating them just with their sexuality; a person is so much more than that.
We are obsessed with the things that we claim not to think about. In this case, that thing is labels. For a generation that raves about tolerance, we have become the intolerants. I think we are filled with hypocrisy. We condemn bullying but jump at the first chance to do it. We don’t like body shaming but condone it if it’s done towards men. We hate the concept of outing someone but pressure them into coming out.
We need to do better.