Shawn Mendes was today's guest on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert. And in a particularly candid moment with Dax, the pop star opened up about the long-running rumors that he's gay, calling them "frustrating."
"It was so, so frustrating for me because there were some people in my life that I was very, very close to, who were gay and in the closet," Shawn revealed. "And I felt this real anger for those people. It's such a tricky thing. You want to say, 'I'm not gay, but it'd be fine if I was gay — but also there's nothing wrong with being gay, but I'm not.'"
Shawn added that he didn't "really know how to respond to the situation" over the years, and that his various attempts at addressing the rumors occasionally created hurt and confusion for fans.
"I've realized that we just have to stop having to be experts and politicians about it, especially as a famous musician who's a guy. I need to be really fucking messy and say the wrong things and apologize and say the right thing after I apologize and be confused about how to respond when people say I'm gay."
The singer went on to explain how rumors about his sexuality, as well as toxic ideas he internalized about masculinity as a teen, made him very self-conscious about coming off as "gay" to others.
"Everyone's been calling me gay since I was 15 years old," he said. "I'm not gay, and I'm like, 'What does that mean?' I had these problems with the way my voice sounded. I'm like, 'How do I sit?' I'm always first to cross my legs and sit with a position of this feminine style and I really suffered with that shit."
"I didn't grow up wrestling," he added. "I grew up getting my hair braided on New Year's Eve. It just completely depends on the way you grew up in your life and your surroundings."
He also acknowledged that these struggles are "even worse" for people who are actually gay and closeted:
I think a lot of guys go through that, and even worse than that, there are just so many guys who are gay and in the closet and must be hearing shit like that and just being like, "I'm terrified to come out."
Shawn ended the conversation by saying that toxic masculinity causes men to be "assholes" — and he shared how his girlfriend, Camila Cabello, has helped him become a more vulnerable, sensitive person:
I'm in a relationship where my girlfriend is like, "We're going to get in bed and you're going to put your head on my chest and you're going to cry into my chest. You're going to tell me how you feel because if you don't do that, you're just going to be an asshole for the next week and I'm not going to deal with that shit." I'm just lucky to be in a relationship that's for it.
You can listen to Shawn's full Armchair Expert interview here.