Kit Connor, who played a queer character in Netflix’s LGBTQ+ received death threats and other online abuse in November because of his role. “I’m bi” the actor tweeted in a short, exasperated response. Kudos for successfully coercing a young man of 18 to come out to himself. I feel like some of you have missed the show’s entire point.
'I'M BI. CONGRATS FOR FORCING AN 18-YEAR-OLD TO OUT HIMSELF.'
LOOK: Actor Kit Connor of the British series "Heartstopper" came out as bisexual after he was accused of queerbaiting fans of the coming-of-age drama. pic.twitter.com/vKu0Lnzyjx
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) November 1, 2022
Although the term queerbaiting has been in use since the early 2000s, Connor’s comments have sparked a new round of debate about the concept. Interest in the concept which was originally directed at media that only hinted at a character’s queerness without confirming it has been rekindled thanks to the rise of social media and the influence of celebrities.
However, it has evolved into a broader critique of people who appropriate queer culture without themselves identifying as LGBTQ+. A number of famous people have been labeled queerbaiters in recent years for a variety of supposed transgressions such as wearing women’s clothing or appearing in photos with other celebrities of the same s*x.
Billie Eilish was accused of queerbaiting after she captioned an Instagram photo of a group of women with the phrase “I love girls” drawing comparisons to the attacks on Harry Styles and Bad Bunny for wearing dresses and makeup, respectively.
The celebrity has deployed queer symbols and fashioned himself an ambiguous icon without touching the messy unlikable politics of claiming a public label, Billie Eilish writes, as per the reports. When it comes to Styles and his music, negative comments flood social media posts.
A typical tweet accuses someone of being a desperate queer baiter. In another, the words “I’m voting Harry Styles as queer baiter of the year” are written. Associate professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University Claire Sisco King warns against jumping to conclusions about a celebrity’s s*xual orientation based solely on their appearance or behavior.
She criticized the statement saying, It’s problematic because it suggests that someone’s s*xuality has to be visible or has to be readily apparent in order to be authentic rather than realizing that s*xual orientation is something that can be both private and fluid.
We run the risk of having our ideas of s*xuality based solely on what we can see. According to Judith Fathallah, a professor of media and culture studies at Lancaster University, the term queerbaiting has not been produced since it has shifted from being a means of legitimate criticism of media to being a term lobbed at real humans.
If you’re interested in reading more about Harry Styles, check out the articles we’ve already written:
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- My Policeman Unravels a Harry Styles Centered Romantic Triangle
She argued that this definition of queer was inaccurate because it reduces the whole complexity of s*xuality to a yes/no tick box. The antonym of straight is not queer but gay. One of the main points of being queer is precisely that it is difficult to define.
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