It’s Time to Start Punishing Straight Actors for Gay-Baiting
This weekend, some heterosexual Teen Wolf co-star (who I refuse to give the benefit of naming) came out as gay on Snapchat and then took it back the next day — after countless headlines and social media had been generated about him. He gave the requisite apology for offending his fans, and many gay fans were quick to take him back since he had been supportive of his actually gay co-stars.
To this person, I say, with all disrespect: fuck you.
It’s a sad truth that we as gay people are so starved for openly gay actors and characters that we generate lots of buzz whenever we get wind of some pretty boy simulating gay sex in a film, kissing their co-stars, flashing their abs or saying anything that suggests they’re evenly remotely gay. Straight young actors know this and gay-bait fans by doing the things I’ve just listed above. Then they wait for the free publicity to roll in.
But I’m sick of it, and you should be too. Our dollars and clicks shouldn’t support it. In fact, it should come with serious consequences beyond a dumb apology tweet.
Hollywood is fucked when it comes to sexuality. Young gay men get sexually abused, gay actors feel compelled to stay in the closet over fears that they’ll be typecast or refused work, and barely 10 percent of films end up featuring any gay characters whatsoever let alone alone a gay protagonist. So excuse us for hoping that a popular celebrity actually comes out and helps change Hollywood’s homophobic culture rather than just playing at it for publicity pink dollars.
Writing about the aforementioned Teen Wolf star’s gay-baiting, Unicorn Booty contributor Michael Lambert recently wrote in OUT magazine about how fake comings-out devalue REAL ones (namely, his):
I can’t shake the disconnect between the gut-wrenching fear I faced years ago — when I risked losing my father and losing my opportunity to finish college [for coming out] —with an MTV darling hanging out in the Village and making a joke.
Maybe he’s just the last straw in a year full of missteps from straight allies who try to sound like they understand our out lives—all for the dollar signs and column inches. How about when Olly Murs said he was “20 percent” gay when he broke up with his girlfriend? How about when Nick Jonas said he basically had gay sex when he filmed a sex scene for Kingdom?
These straight young men tap into our world—they gut our coming-out narratives — and we reward them constantly for their bravery with our attention and our dollars.
Remember, “ally” is a term we give to straight people who do good for our community. So when you give money to pro-LGBT causes (not the HRC), advocate for greater acceptance of LGBT people and speak out against queerphobia, that’s exactly the help we need. But when you fake coming out, that hurt us A LOT.
Not only does it betray our hope (the likes of which I described above), but it also feeds into the conservative right-wing media narrative that we queers are a bunch of over-privileged Hollywood decadents who simply change our sexualities and gender identities at-will and for attention, KINDA LIKE YOU JUST DID. It also implies that we’re deceitful, willing to hurt others and can choose to be straight or cisgender the same way you might one day choose to get Botox, play a street urchin or go on a cocaine bender. It doesn’t help; in fact, it really hurts and pisses a lot of us.
So I suggest we set a higher bar for straight actors who purport to be our allies. When they do stupid shit like whats-his-name, we ignore them by denying them press coverage, refusing to talk about them on social media, refusing to consume their work, and by “calling them in” by asking why they keep fucking with us; we should ask them why they think that titillating us is more important than ACTUAL activism and advocacy.
In fact, we’ll even make it easy on you straight actors. Here’s some rules you can follow that’ll keep you from being a fake piece of shit and actually start helping queers, you ally, you:
No Fake Comings-Out or Declarations of Partial Gayness
Unless you plan on pursuing same-sex encounters or changing your gender presentation, we don’t wanna hear about how fluid, open-minded or “not into labels” you are. We’re not saying you have to label yourself, but stop using ambiguity as a way to make homos think they have a chance of fucking you. It’s cheap and manipulative; be hot for who you are rather than an attention-starved cocktease media whore.
No Talking About how You “Almost” had Gay Sex Once
Unless you’ve actually sucked a dick, we don’t wanna hear about how your role got you to “go outside of your comfort zone” or how you’ve had “everything but actual gay sex”. You know what’s “everything but actual gay sex”? Kissing and grinding against a person of the same sex, chewing on their nipples, licking their thighs, smelling their crotch and then sucking on their musky balls or labia. Until you’ve done any of that OUTSIDE OF A SCREEN ROLE, shut the fuck up. You’re not queer, you just got paid to play like it once.
Advocate for Queer Actors and Directors
Please realize that every time you play a gay character on screen or (UGH) the cover of an LGBT magazine, that there’s a zillion talented gay actors and models out there who would’ve KILLED FOR that role. We get it — Hollywood discriminates and every media outlet wants your big-name star power. But the ‘90s are over — it’s no longer to “brave” to play gay. And seeing as some of you are literally drowning in money and able to get roles anywhere, so how about you turn down a few opportunities and tell casting agents to cast a gay person instead? If you want credit, publicize that you did that. It will make a difference, we promise.
Start Speaking Out Against Queerphobia in Hollywood
We get it: You sign contracts that forbid you from talking shit about your projects. But, how about independently making public statements about how Hollywood regularly closets and shuts out gay actors? If you have the courage to speak out about it, others may as well. This will undoubtedly get you branded as a “troublemaker” and possibly blacklisted from some projects, but it will also get you known as a true advocate. Some fellow actors might even feel emboldened enough to start a social movement against queer exclusion in Hollywood and actually advocate for more queer directors, screenwriters and actors. That would be truly revolutionary — wouldn’t you like to be known as the actor who actually did something to improve queer media?
Challenge Queerphobia Abroad
You don’t have to give a speech to the U.N. like Emma Watson or anything, but don’t fucking attend parties of anti-gay people and organizations. Even better, actively speak out against queerphobia worldwide. LGBT people get murdered, harassed and discriminated against every single day in countries around the world. You can help raise awareness about them. No, the ones most affected by this probably aren’t buying tickets to your movies or concerts, but they need all the help they can get — their lives are literally on the line.