Shawn, Being Called Gay Isn’t Hurtful
Singer Shawn Mendes claims it’s hurtful that people think he might be gay.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Canadian singer Shawn Mendes expressed anger at the speculation surrounding his sexual orientation.
During the interview he stated,
“For me it’s [gay rumors] hurtful. I get mad when people assume things about me.”
This isn’t the first time the singer has addressed rumors about his sexuality. Three years ago Mendes, 20, posted a Snapchat video where he denied the rumors surrounding his sexuality:
“First of all, I’m not gay. Second of all, it shouldn’t make a difference if I was or wasn’t.”
He later told Rolling Stone that the rumors had deeply upset him:
“In the back of my heart, I feel like I need to go be seen with someone — like a girl — in public, to prove to people that I’m not gay. Even though in my heart I know that it’s not a bad thing. There’s still a piece of me that thinks that. And I hate that side of me.”
On some levels it’s hard not to sympathize with Mendes. At twenty a person is still figuring life out. Most of us can look back at who we were at his age and think we’re looking at a completely different person. Also, most of us weren’t a world famous singer with millions of fans and a ton of media interest.
Despite the desire to empathize with what he is going through, his comments are troubling and upsetting. While they show a lack of maturity that one might expect from someone his age, they can be interpreted as sounding somewhat homophobic.
Mendes claims he is heterosexual and there is no reason to doubt him in that assertion. His reactions to being perceived as gay, however, are rather troubling.
In the Rolling Stone interview, Mendes recalled waking up in a cold sweat after Taylor Swift posted a video of her applying glittery eye make-up on him:
“I felt sick, I was like ‘F**k, why did I let her post that?’ I just fed the fire that I’m terrified of.”
This reaction suggests a young man who is very uncomfortable with aspects of his identity. Perhaps it is the response of someone trying to balance parts of his personality and mannerisms which cultural constructions of masculinity deem unmanly.
Regardless, his calling gay rumors hurtful poses a risk of doing great harm to his young LGBTQ+ fans. It is probable that some of them are dealing with the angst and self-hatred that frequently accompanies the coming out process. How will they react when they hear their idol saying it’s hurtful to be thought of as gay? They could interpret this as meaning being gay is a bad thing. It may reinforce some of the negative feelings they already have about themselves.
Perhaps being young, immature, and massively famous creates a shielded environment where he cannot see that his words have the potential to do damage?
While some of his fans may wish to dismiss these comments, the reality is he has an established pattern. This is the third time in three years he has made comments of this nature and it shouldn’t be ignored.
It’s understandable that when people repeatedly say things about you that aren’t true, it can become frustrating. At some point, however, you just have to move on and let people think what they want. When you continue to react and bring the subject up, it only fans the flames of speculation.
If Mendes truly thinks there is nothing wrong with being gay, he needs to say so publicly. Perhaps he should emulate what other celebrities do and act like the rumors are no big deal — because they really aren’t.
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