After coming out as sexually fluid, Tyler Posey is the latest celeb to be accused of queer-baiting.
The Teen Wolf actor recently spoke to NME where he discussed the fallout from his decision to come out on OnlyFans in 2020. Tyler recalled,
“There’s been this really loud person online — I’m pretty sure it’s only one person — and they’re trying to call me a ‘gay-baiter’: pretending to be gay to get money, essentially.”
Tyler has worked hard not to let comments like these bother him but says some of them are “really cruel,” including ones that say he should kill himself.
“[The troll] made this one comment that kind of sparked me wanting to do something about cyberbullying. They said: ‘I killed your mother’ — like, this person actually claimed they killed my mother.”
(Tyler’s mother died of breast cancer in 2014).
Overall, Tyler finds the attacks “bizarre,” especially because he was just trying to be honest about his sexuality.
“I’ve been with everybody under the sun, and right now I’m in the best relationship that I’ve ever been in with a woman, and she’s queer too.”
Tyler’s referring to his relationship with rock singer Phem, with whom he went public in February 2021.
— kiaariii (@Chiara24_) February 14, 2022
Tyler added that Phem has been a huge part of his sexuality journey. He explained,
“She’s helped me realize that I fit under the queer umbrella and that I’m sexually fluid.”
Tyler first discussed his attraction to other men in an OnlyFans live chat in 2020.
“I did this live on OnlyFans and they were asking me stuff that horny people would ask you: ‘Have you been with a man? Have you been with the opposite sex? What was it like?’ And I was just being honest about it, because no one’s ever asked me before.”
“It was just a split-second decision… I thought that was really interesting that it just broke down this wall that I didn’t feel like I put up, but it was easier for me to just be honest about all that stuff.”
Except for a few trolls, the response has mostly been positive from his fans.
The Growing Popularity of Queer-Baiting Accusations
Unfortunately, Tyler isn’t the only LGBTQ+ celebrity who has faced accusations of queer-baiting.
In July 2021, Cardi B was accused of gay-baiting in the music video “Wild Side” with Normani.
However, Cardi is openly bisexual — a fact she had to remind the public about. Cardi tweeted,
“I’m married to a man but I have express soo much about my bisexuality and my experiences with girls. All of a sudden ‘queer baiting’ is the new word & people use it to the ground!”
Cardi is right — queer baiting accusations seem to be thrown around willy nilly these days. And while the intention may be to hold straight celebrities accountable, it unfortunately has led to some sad consequences.
Accusations like these have even forced celebrities to come out, merely so they can save face.
This happened to Rita Ora in 2018 after her song “Girls” was widely criticized for the lyrics, which had Rita singing “I wanna kiss girls.”
Fellow musician Hayley Kiyoko, who identifies as a lesbian, led the charge against Rita and wrote an Instagram statement in which she called the song “downright tone-deaf.”
It was at this point that Rita felt forced to come out. She wrote on Twitter,
“‘Girls’ was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life. I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey.”
Have Queer-Baiting Accusations Gotten Out of Control?
Queer-baiting, or gay-baiting, was a term originally coined to discuss how TV shows and movies would include just enough subtext to reel in queer viewers (or “bait” them, if you will), without actually following through. Examples include Dean and Castiel in Supernatural, John and Sherlock in Sherlock, and Eve and Villanelle in Killing Eve.
But over the years, the term has been expanded to include celebrities who seemingly embrace a queer image, slang, etc. in order to profit off of gay fans (Nick Jonas is often accused of this).
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Nowadays, it seems like the accusations have gotten out of control, and worse, they’ve gotten dangerous.
In situations like the ones with Rita Ora, we’ve backed celebs into a corner, forcing them to come out or risk their reputation. Instead of letting their music or art speak for them, we automatically assume the worst. Mob mentality takes over until coming out is the only way to get redemption.
But coming out should never be the result of peer pressure. There has to be a way to hold those accountable for profiting off of queer culture without simultaneously cornering LGBTQ celebrities, leaving them no choice but to go public.
Perhaps it’s time we finally give celebs a little room to breathe. Let’s stop assuming the worst in everyone and let celebrities, particularly musicians, express themselves in a way that feels comfortable — even if that means they can only do it through their music.