Pop Culture LGBTQ

This Whole "Is Nick Jonas Gay?" Thing Is Pandering And Exploitative

Op-Ed: Why Nick is playing all of us.

A recent interview with Nick Jonas led to speculations about the singer's sexuality...again.

“I can't say I have or haven't,” replied Jonas to an inquisitive interviewer from Daily Star Online when asked rather directly about whether or not he had ever hooked up with men before. “But if you watch [Kingdom, on which Jonas plays a gay man] you'll see more of that...” he continued, the perfect post-Disney superstar, always ready to sell a product. 

It's not our first time at this rodeo.

If we can all be honest with ourselves, Jonas' whole reinvention as a pro-LGBT sex symbol has been a pandering marketing ploy from the start, exploiting easily-pleased gays for their precious attention and considerably growing purchasing power

Here's a few reasons why I have issues here:

1. The interviewer asked a rude question and Jonas tolerated it. Jonas' sexuality isn't anybody's business and if he is gay he clearly isn't ready to come out. So back off.

2. The framing of Jonas' sexuality as a prurient interest is against the interest of LGBTs. LGBT sexuality should not be portrayed as something salacious or gossipy any more than straight sexuality. Nor should it be assumed that pro-gay straight men have, themselves, experimented with other men.

3. As gay people become more visible, they will be more easily turned into an advertising demographic rather than appreciated as creators of an actually interesting and vivacious culture. Nick Jonas is (perhaps inadvertently) participating in the banalization and commercialization of queerness by constantly selling himself as gay icon.

4. While it's impossible to know the sincerity of Jonas' pro-gay stances, gays and queers should be suspicious of pro-gay marketing schemes that are actually just coded commercials for specific goods or products that do nothing to educate about or help real LGBT people. See: The NOH8 campaign.

5. There are actual incredibly talented queer artists and actors that deserve queer support and patronage. However, the licentious fascination with (usually white) pro-gay straights often overshadows the work of LGBTs who already struggle for media coverage due to homophobia in the entertainment industry.

6. If Jonas is going to use his questionable queerness to sell his music and TV shows he should put his money where is mouth is. Miley did it: she created an entire reputable LGBT homelessness charity. He can do something similar.

And I'm done.

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