Queerbaiting is Problematic for Everyone

Today, queerbaiting is considered a marketing technique for fiction and entertainment in which creators hint at or imply a queer relationship or identity, but do not depict or confirm it. The meaning of the term has evolved over time, changing drastically from the 1950s until now. 

Queerbaiting was first relevant during the1950s. America was experiencing what is known as the Lavender Scare, where queer people with governmental positions were viewed as untrustworthy, which put their jobs at risk. As a result, queer people anxiously hid their sexualities. 

To identify those who were a part of the LGBTQ+ community, people would queerbait or pretend to be an ally or queer person themselves. They assumed the undeserved trust of queer people to out them to the public and turn them in. 

Presently, queerbaiting has been used by television shows like “Stranger Things”, and fans have accused artists such as Harry Styles and Billie Eillish for presenting misleading representations of who they are, by dressing, acting, and speaking a certain way, to attract and maintain the loyalty and attention of their queer fans and audience members. Queerbaiting not only attracts the queer community’s attention, but also opens their wallets as they are teetering on this false hope that they will receive some confirmed representation.   

There is no question that queerbaiting is a real issue that can harm the LGBTQ+ community. Queerbaiting can take a large toll on the mental health of the queer community. 

Representation is incredibly important. It is validating and comforting to see who you are  and the struggles and adversity you face reflected by the media. It sends the message that you are not alone, there are people out there like you, and there are people who care. 

For heterosexual people who are having trouble imagining how queerbaiting would feel, picture never seeing any confirmed straight characters or relationships in your favorite T.V. shows, movies, and books, yikes. 

Accurate representation is far more essential for the LGBTQ+ community because of the homophobic world we live in. 

While queerbaiting is a serious issue, it can also perpetuate a serious double standard. The LGBTQ+ community has always stood for being true to oneself, and expressing who you are, and accepting others for who they are. Although, many queer individuals and allies will call out and blatantly accuse celebrities and characters in the media for queerbaiting without much consideration, this completely goes against what the LGBTQ+ community stands for. 

These individuals overlook the fact that these characters and celebrities could be accurately expressing themselves, queer or not, and are invalidating them in the process. Critics are basically saying that their identities and self-expression are only valid if they outrightly confirm their sexuality. Additionally, they are pressured to fit certain perceptions others have of them, conform to a specific identity, and feel obligated to reveal personal information to the public. 

The bottom line is that using queerbaiting as a marketing technique deeply affects the mental and emotional well being of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The community deserves direct, explicit representation and the community’s desire and anticipation should not be taken advantage of for monetary profit, but the double standard it has created is just harmful as people accused of queerbaiting feel pressured or obligated to disclose their sexuality and justify themselves to the public based on their appearance or behavior, which is incredibly unfair.