Stop Fetishizing Gay People

4:14 PM

Fetishization is not allyship.

By politics editor, Cameron Price

News flash: Straight girls obsessing over gay men is as creepy as straight men doing the same for lesbians. Contrary to popular belief, same-gender attracted people do not enjoy being the object of your fetishes. We see you, straight girl, befriending someone you consider the stereotype of gayness while you call lesbians “dykes.” We see your infatuation with same-gender ships and couples.

Naturally, as a lesbian, my music taste in my pre-teen years consisted of One Direction, Queen, and compilations of Disney music. During that time period, I ran a Larry Stylinson Twitter fan account. If you don’t know who Larry is, it’s the belief that Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles of One Direction are dating. While I had an overall good time imagining my favs as a gay couple, there was an odd number of heterosexual girls obsessing over them, too. They pointed out stereotypes as proof (i.e. Louis’ limp wrist) that the two were gay and also had many conversations about who was the top and who was the bottom. It made me very uncomfortable and I decided to call it out. Instead of being understood, it seemed that the entirety of the Larry fandom was going after me-- even some who were same-gender attracted themselves. They said I was too sensitive and “politically correct.” I remember feeling so alone in defending my gay siblings. No one saw how it could be harmful. They felt they were being allies by not being disgusted at the idea of two men together.

Unfortunately, I have found that this is the common response to calling out fetishization-- even in activist spaces.

In the media, the “gay best friend” image is incredibly romanticized. Many straight celebrities have a gay best friend, yet are hardly ever seen even breathing near lesbians and bi girls.

(Left: Todrick Hall and Taylor Swift, Center: Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande, Right: Tyra Banks and J. Alexander)

Urban Dictionary's top voted definition for the term is “the best friend of any hot girl you know.” 

In 2013, the film G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) was released. The movie follows Tanner, a gay teen, as he is outed and becomes the most popular student in the school. The three most popular girls try to get him to be their best friend because they are obsessed with the gay best friend stereotype. It is difficult to find news outlets critiquing this movie and how it totally objectifies gay men. In fact, The Wrap’s article about the movie is titled “Gay Teens Become Hot Accessories in This Sweet-Natured Comedy.” 

Many of the most popular gay YA novels are written by straight women. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda became a very popular movie, Love, Simon, in 2018. It is focused an entirely on a gay highschooler but is written by a straight woman. Rainbow Rowell, a critically acclaimed and extremely successful author, has an eerie number of books centered around gay men. Additionally, Rowell has a novel in which a straight girl writes gay fanfiction. 

Yaoi is one of the most popular genres in anime. Its only criteria? Two or more men in a gay relationship. This genre is geared towards women-- not even gay men themselves, despite being the subject of this category.

Gay men are not accessories, they are not your entities. Lesbians and bi women are not just the objects of your sexual desires. We are real humans with more to offer than the romanticized stereotypes straight people perpetuate. I guarantee no gay man wants to follow you around, tell you “yas, queen,” and give you fashion advice. The fetishization and romanticization of same-gender attraction is extremely damaging to our community. It dehumanizes us. 

The simple solution for allies? Stop doing it! Call out others when they do it, no matter how uncomfortable it is. I guarantee it will be ten times easier for you to do than your gay friends.

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4 comments

  1. Hi! The was a well written blog that was easy to read and process. But, I do have a few questions. I will take your response as an opportunity to educate myself on these subjects, and I apologise if I do come off as offensive - I don't intend to (>.<)

    I personally find interest in reading BL and Yaoi. From my understanding, fetishising is make (something) the object of a sexual fetish or, in other words, sexualising someone or something. If I read BL for more than just seeing a relationship between the parties, and more of a deeper interpretation (I don't think interpretation is the right word, but I can't think of anything else) of coming out and understanding the struggles of being part of the LGBTQ+ community through fictional text, would I be fetishising the LGBTQ+ community? What if the author was LGBTQ+ themselves and incorporated their own experiences in the fictional text?

    Before their circumstances, I will always recognise everyone for their personality and their status as a human being. In this case, being gay people, I will always see them as a human being with their own thoughts, feelings and opinions, rather than concluding that being gay is their personality trait and is the only way to identify them as a person. With this mindset, where I don't hold any expectation of how someone of the LGBTQ+ community "should be" and see them for who they are beyond sexuality, am I still able to read BL and Yaoi?

    Just like reading a normal heterosexual romance novel, where the audience finds pleasure in exploring a romantic relationship, I somewhat find reading BL that way, where I am able to explore the variety of people, their many interactions and their experiences, all whilst enjoying the text. Once again, I am asking as a means to further educate myself and apologise if I do appear ignorant in my comment. Cheers and take care!

    - Ang

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, I'm sorry if it seemed like I was rambling - I was writing off the top of my head and I'm afraid that my vocabulary is not that vast, so I might not have worded thing right. I hope I was able to get the main idea across though >.<

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  2. I completely understand. Often when I went to school, the “popular girls” would try and have gay best friends. But then look down on lesbians. It was terrible. Now I’ve had a best friend for about 8 years now. When she came out to as lesbian I was completely okay with it as a straight female. She was actually the one who got me into LGBTQ comics and stories. Now I’m a pan sexual female. I feel what lesbians felt when they were looked down upon. Just because I like everyone. Fetishizing gay men is not okay! You shouldn’t go out of you way to accept them and not everyone else. You should support all of the community!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I completely understand. Often when I went to school, the “popular girls” would try and have gay best friends. But then look down on lesbians. It was terrible. Now I’ve had a best friend for about 8 years now. When she came out to as lesbian I was completely okay with it as a straight female. She was actually the one who got me into LGBTQ comics and stories. Now I’m a pan sexual female. I feel what lesbians felt when they were looked down upon. Just because I like everyone. Fetishizing gay men is not okay! You shouldn’t go out of you way to accept them and not everyone else. You should support all of the community!

    ReplyDelete