By Carlos Fuentes
Gay men are continuously being mocked throughout multiple media platforms. We are drawn to be over feminized and dramatized for the amusement of viewers. However, in the real world, little boys are being bullied in schools for ‘acting’ gay. And in an ironic turn of events, those same bullies are going online and queer baiting on platforms like Tik Tok to gain attraction.
Queer baiting is the practice of implying queer attraction or relationships to engage with the LGBTQ community. A lot of influencers and celebrities are guilty of this practice, which has made queer baiting a trend throughout many social media platforms. Tik Tok is a major platform where queer baiting is performed on a daily basis. Those on the front lines of queer baiting are straight cis-gendered men who have a history of using homophobic slurs.
The performance of queerbaiting capitalizes and profits from the lives of queer people. Tiktokers fail to comprehend the harmful effects of queerbaiting online. One of the consequences being the reinforcement of negative stereotypes of gay men; it starts a chain reaction of homophobic slurs that are harmful to the queer community. A common reaction on Tiktok is people attacking the queer community while giving heterosexuals a pass from being ridiculed and celebrating them as comedians. A person pretending to be a queer for views should not be mistaken as an ally to the LBGTQ community. They are only enforcing harmful and false stereotypes that belittle queer people.
Capitalizing on a marginalized group only further disconnects them from society. Queer baiting does not make queer behavior socially acceptable because of the internalized homophobia within queer baiting. There are places where being gay is illegal, yet ironically heterosexuals are given a pass to perform and present as queer for entertainment. Thus, queer people become skits for straight people to mock and gain attraction from larger audiences. In other words, exhibiting queer behavior is meant to be funny and attractive. The reality for a lot of queer individuals is the opposite; they are victims of hate crimes endorsed by stereotypes that showcase them as a joke. They are attacked and judged for the same behavior straight people are idolized for in the media.
When straight people start queer baiting, they start to invalidate LGBTQ stories. Fake coming-out videos are produced by people who later confess they’re straight. Videos like these invalidate queer people because it labels coming out as a joke. There is nothing funny about coming out; it can be traumatizing and anxiety-driven due to fear of rejection. Straight people fail to realize they are enacting and pushing homophobic ideals by mocking queer people in their videos.
Allowing queer baiting to continue is encouraging toxic behavior to fly under the radar without repercussion. LGBTQ stories are not something to stigmatize and make fun of. Queer baiting performed by straight people has created this double standard that erases the hardships of queer people and turns it into a joke. As a queer person, it hurts to see my community continuously harassed for simply being ourselves. The mockery of queer people coming out and the false stereotypes given by the media has left the LGBTQ community vulnerable to an alarming number of homophobic attacks online. Queer baiting silences queer voices and it’s unacceptable. LGBTQ stories aren’t meant for jokes nor to be capitalized for profit. There is no room left for ignorance to prevail in the media. Let us celebrate and learn about queer culture, instead of enabling homophobia by making harmful stigmatizing videos that disparage queer people and their unique stories.