Minorities are often used as “aesthetics”. Think of the accusations of blackface rippling across the internet, or the stereotypical doll-like Japanese schoolgirl. The latest victim of this fad? The LGBTQ+ community.
They must have been able to count the other’s eyelashes. The camera cuts to black just before the two women’s lips touch, but the world has already seen the intention behind the shot. Pop star Ariana Grande’s “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” has recently brought the subject of queerbaiting to light.
You could say I’m hatin’ if you want to / But I only hate on her ’cause I want youAriana Grande
Queerbaiting is the term generally used to describe the teasing of a LGBTQ+ relationship by using romantic plot tropes without having the intention of declaring the relationship or taking it anywhere beyond the surface-level.
In a society where different sexualities and gender identities are finally gaining acceptance, the edge of “forbidden love” and “scandal” still entices artists to add a little gratuitous edge to their work. What better way than to add a unconventional twist? And what better way to differentiate a community than to use it as a “different” twist? It’s easy to recognize and capitalize upon the profitability of the new LGBTQ+ market, but still, not enough to drive away their more traditional audience.
Historically, the LGBTQ+ community has faced direct discrimination. Any sexual actions between same-sex individuals is still considered a serious crime in 72 countries today. However, the sexualization of its members is also prevalent. A common association with lesbianism is the fetish, and with bisexuality, adultery. Even the quintessential gay bar is focused on sex. It’s difficult for young LGBTQ+ people to integrate themselves into the community.
Sexual violence is also an issue on the rise. 41% of lesbians and 66% of bisexual women experience it in their lifetimes, along with 26% of gay men and 38% of bisexual men. The real numbers may be even higher. Laws and procedures concerning rape often don’t take into account non-penetrative sex, and fear that they may be discriminated against is another factor in the silence of these victims. These disturbing statistics are indicative of the problematic perception of the LGBTQ+ community.
Queerbaiting is hardly harmless. The problem with it is that it propagates these stereotypes instead of encouraging progress. While the LGBTQ+ community has certainly made strides, change is still necessary; to hinder it is to move backwards.