Thanks to various online platforms, queer celebrities garner larger mainstream — read: straight — fandoms than ever before. For so long, celebrities were asked to hide their queerness for fear that, if they came out, they wouldn’t be able to break out of a niche — read: queer — audience. Their talent would remain unseen; they’d lose opportunities.
Every year, more and more celebrities prove that that isn’t the case. The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race has cornered the market on teen girls. Janelle Monae is not just a queer act, she’s a headliner for people of all sexualities and gender identities. And Keiynan Lonsdale can have a successful TV, movie and music career without much hindrance.
Unless these queer celebs remind their users that they are, you know, sexual beings.
On Sunday, Lonsdale shared a video of him dancing around in sweatpants on Instagram. Throughout the video, Lonsdale’s sizeable assets are basically on full display and he grabs his ass several times. Lonsdale shared the video with a brief caption, “Happy Sunday.”
What followed was quite the backlash. People in the comments were upset that Lonsdale would dare share a video of himself dancing so suggestively when he has a fanbase composed of teenagers. Several people said that this is not the kind of content they were looking for from Lonsdale.
Lonsdale is far from the first queer celebrity to get pushback just for using their platform to talk about their sexuality. In June, Jinkx Monsoon’s Instagram followers rebelled against the Drag Race Season 5 winner when she posted a picture of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and joked that Disney movies were responsible for her foot fetish.
Monsoon had to post a response to commenters asking them to “stop the slut shaming.”
“Go follow someone dull and fake, if you can’t handle my truth,” they added.
Online comedian and porn star Chris Crocker says he’s dealt with similar criticism from fans, who have often tried to call him out for posting nude pictures promoting his OnlyFans account. For the record, Crocker’s account is called “Chris Crocker XXX” and he writes that if fans want “regular” content they should go to his Facebook.
Crocker, who has appeared in porn films since 2012, said that fans will often call him a “whore” or a “slut” for posts as innocuous as him kissing another man, just because many know him more for his humorous online videos from a decade ago.
“They’ll cosign all day long about gay rights and all these things, but when they’re confronted with the visual of you being a gay man who is a sexual being, it’s totally different,” Crocker said.
He added, “They just want you to be funny and accept who you are as a whole person.”
Crocker suggested that queer celebrities face a similar kind of discrimination that many female celebrities like Kim Kardashian face when they show their bodies. However, those misogynistic, anti-sex attitudes are compounded by homophobia when it comes to queer celebrities. Queer sexuality is still highly stigmatized. As queer celebs catapult into the mainstream, they deal with a world where queer sexuality is seen as disgusting, disease-ridden or sinful. Crocker faces the added layer of anti-sex worker stigma, as well.
Those stigmatizing attitudes are often at odds with many queer people who have found strength in their sexuality.
“People want you to be this superhero or this caricature, but the second you’re sexual or anything it’s like, ‘You’re a whore!’” he said. “Because there’s so much weird stigma and focus on us being sexual beings, they’re like, ‘Oh it’s so gross.’”
When it comes to following queer celebrities, straight people want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to support queerness without having to see it shoved in their faces. They desire a neutered queerness that is family friendly, facile and non-threatening.
Crocker refuses to give them that, even if it’s just for economic reasons.
“That’s their shit to unpack,” he said. “I gotta make my money moves.”