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    Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, And 8 More Celebrities Accused Of "Queerbaiting,” Plus How They Responded To The Accusations

    Responding to criticism in an interview with the Guardian, Harry Styles said, "Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No."

    When celebrities keep their sexuality ambiguous or participate in overtly queer scenarios like kissing their male backup dancer — a question is sometimes raised: "Are they queerbaiting?"

    bad bunny kissing a male dancer on stage

    Queerbaiting typically refers to a marketing tactic where media uses queer imagery, lyrics, plots, and conversation to draw in an LGBTQ+ audience without the intention to deliver accurate LGBTQ+ representation.

    Today, the term has evolved and is also used as a criticism of a person, especially a public figure, who is seen to be portraying themselves as queer or ambiguous to pander to the LGBTQ+ community for marketing purposes.

    But does this speculation contribute to erasing queer identities like bisexuality, asexuality, and pansexuality? Should sexual fluidity or creative roles only be reserved for celebrities who explicitly identify as queer? Is their presence detrimental to the LGBTQ+ community, and are these claims valid? It's complicated!

    Here are 10 celebrities accused of queerbaiting and how they responded to the allegations.

    1. One of the biggest celebrities dominating the conversation around queerbaiting is Harry Styles. Harry is known for his inclusive music, androgynous style, and avoidance of labeling his sexuality.

    harry performing on stage

    Harry is the most vocal against these accusations, stating in an interview with The Guardian, "Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No."

    close up of harry

    "In terms of how I wanna dress and what the album sleeve's gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with," Harry continued. "I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool."

    harry dressed as dorothy from the wizard of oz on stage

    2. When Nick Jonas went solo, he was criticized for queerbaiting after frequently courting the LGBTQ+ community at gay bars and benefits surrounding his music releases.

    close up of nick

    In addition to his public appearances, Nick appeared in television shows like The Kingdom and Scream Queens portraying gay characters.

    nick's characters lying next to another guy in bed

    Nick responded to claims of queerbaiting by saying, "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I think it's unfortunate that some people have to find a negative in every situation. Clearly, my heart is in the right place, and more than anything, if they just looked at my life and my gay friends and the authentic nature of where my heart is, they'd just see that they're kind of ignorant."

    close up of nick

    3. When Tyler Posey spoke about his sexual fluidity on his OnlyFans account, it sparked adverse reactions. A person claimed he was a "gay-baiter" — only pretending to be gay to make money.

    close up of tyler closing his eyes

    Tyler clapped back at the allegations, saying that he's only trying to be honest about himself. He added that the comments are strange and cruel, which inspired his awareness of cyberbullying.

    close up of tyler

    Tyler's girlfriend, alt-rock singer Phem, who is also queer, helped him realize his sexuality. “She’s helped me realize that I fit under the queer umbrella and that I’m sexually fluid, I guess. No, not ‘I guess.' I don’t want anyone to take this and be like: ‘Well, he was kind of wishy-washy about it.'"

    close up of tyler

    4. Billie Eilish was accused of queerbaiting when she released a music video for "Lost Cause," a single from her sophomore album. The music video included suggestive interactions with partially dressed women.

    close up of Billie on stage

    Billie promoted the video on Instagram, her caption reading, "i love girls." This post added fuel to the fire of the queerbaiting conversation.

    billie surrounded by women in bed for her music video

    In an interview with Elle magazine, she said to everyone discussing her sexuality, "Like, oh yeah, that's everyone else's business, right? No. Where's that energy with men? I just wanted to make a song once, and then I kept making songs. I never said, 'Hey, pay attention to my life.' All my friends know I don't wanna see any of [the negative chatter]. When people send me something mean, it hurts my soul."

    close up of Billie

    5. In the music video for "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored," Ariana Grande teased a same-sex fling as a plot twist at the end.

    ariana with a look-alike and a male interest in the music video

    According to Complex, people also accused Ariana of exploiting the queer community when she headlined the Manchester Pride festival in 2019 and doubled ticket prices.

    close up of Ariana

    Ariana swiftly responded, "The LGBTQ+ community has been so special to me and supportive throughout my entire career. The relationships I have with my LGBTQ+ fans, friends, and family make me so so happy." She claimed the ticket prices were the venue's decision and out of her control.

    Ariana holding a "team ariana" sign on The Voice

    6. When Normani released "Wild Side," featuring Cardi B, the artists were accused of queerbaiting for holding each other while nude in the music video.

    close up of the two artists holding each other's naked bodies in the music video

    Cardi B wasted no time firing back at these claims, reminding the haters that she identifies as a bisexual woman.

    I don’t like this new “queer baiting” word.I feel like it pressure artist to talk about their sexuality or their experiences that they don’t feel comfortable speaking about.If a artist kiss a girl on a video does that means she gotta show videos & text wit wit other women?

    Twitter: @iamcardib

    In response to nude images of Cardi B and Normani holding each other, she explained it was to conceal her pregnancy.

    Uuummmm @RollingStone queer baiting? You do know we was trying to hide a whole baby bump right ?Also I’m married to a man but I have express soo much about my bisexuality and my experiences wit girls .All of a sudden “queer baiting” is the new word & people use it to the ground !

    Twitter: @iamcardib

    7. Charlie Puth was called out for queerbaiting after he posted a TikTok video purposefully misusing a filter about gay sex that labeled whether he was a top or a bottom.

    charlie singing on stage

    People also criticized Charlie for his sexually charged social media engagement, including innuendos and partially nude photos, and the queer ambiguity of his latest single with Jung Kook of BTS, "Left and Right."

    charlie on stage

    While he's yet to directly address the queerbaiting accusations, Charlie had this to say about the online criticism of his work with BTS:

    I don’t usually pay any mind to things like this, but something has to be said. This dangerous, toxic, internet screaming match between ‘fandoms’ has to stop. I’m 28 years old, so it doesn’t really mean anything to me when some person I don’t know writes a nasty message to me...

    Twitter: @charlieputh

    But what I do know is that 10 years ago, language like this directed towards me would’ve affected me deeply in a very negative way. And I’m thinking about all the other younger kids on twitter seeing stuff like this on a daily basis.

    Twitter: @charlieputh

    It may sound cliche, but please be nicer to each other on here. No more screaming about made up nonsense. It does nobody any good. We all need to love each other MORE THAN EVER RIGHT NOW.

    Twitter: @charlieputh

    8. James Franco appeared in several roles as a gay man, and casually joked that he was a "little gay" during an interview. Critics speculated that he used homoeroticism for commercial gain.

    james's characters kissing a man in the movie Milk

    In response to the speculation, James did an interview with 429 Magazine where “Straight James Franco” spoke to “Gay James Franco." He said, "Well, I like to think that I'm gay in my art and straight in my life. Although, I'm also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I'm straight. So I guess it depends on how you define gay. If it means whom you have sex with, I guess I'm straight."

    james at an event with his arm around a woman

    James' current sexual misconduct accusations continued the conversation about whether he uses his "queerness" to divert attention away from his more problematic behavior.

    close up of james

    9. Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova, professionally known as t.A.T.u, were once considered gay icons for their unabashed music videos. But, in the 2003 documentary, Screaming for More, the duo revealed they are straight and were marketed as queer women for their musical act.

    close up of the two kissing in their music video

    "That was my role. I never was a lesbian. I never was attracted to a girl. I never had that," Katina told the Daily Beast when questioned. "I had some thoughts because I was pretending to be who I wasn't. And then, I was thinking about it a lot, 'Why am I concerned?' There are so many actors playing different roles in movies. I will just look at it as a movie. If I am helping people with this role, then why not."

    the two posing at an event

    On a Russian TV show, Yulia spoke out against the gay community, saying that if her son were gay, she would condemn him. "I believe that a real man must be a real man. God created man for procreation, it is the nature. The man for me is the support, the strength of… I won't accept [a] gay son."

    the two performing on stage

    10. Lastly, Madonna faced criticism after she posted a comment in response to Lil Nas X's BET Award performance where he kissed his male backup dancer.

    madonna kissing christina aguilara on stage

    Madonna posted a side-by-side picture on her Instagram story of herself kissing Britney Spears (a moment from 2003 that many considered queerbaiting) and a picture of Lil Nas X's performance along with the hashtag: "#DidItFirst."

    madonna kissing britney

    Madonna didn't respond, but Lil Nas X brushed it all off, saying she meant no harm by the comment.

    @PopCrave me and madonna are friends. it’s just a joke.

    Twitter: @LilNasX

    What do you think about these celebrities who were accused of queerbaiting? What about their responses?