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I need straight celebs to stop calling themselves queer


When does it stop being allyship, and start becoming performative? (Picture: REX / GETTY)

Dannii Minogue came out as queer! I excitedly typed into one of my group chats after seeing articles pop up saying just that.

My fellow Dannii-appreciating queer responded immediately: ‘Obviously nothing to do with her doing the PR rounds for her lesbian dating show…’

‘Oh, you pessimist!’ I thought. Dannii will only say she’s queer, if she’s queer…right?

Dannii was at the launch for I Kissed a Girl, when she reportedly said the words: ‘I identify as queer in a weird way’.

Soon after, my dejected fingers were forced to type: Update, she is not queer.

Dannii Minogue set the record straight – quite literally. 

In an Instagram post, she wrote in the caption: ‘To clarify, there was no breakdown and I was not making an announcement that I’m a lesbian or queer, I’m straight and in a long term hetero relationship.’

She explained that her words had been ‘taken out of context’, and suggested that anyone who had listened to the rest of the Q&A would have heard her addressed as a straight woman and ally.

While I’m sure Dannii meant no harm, this whole saga upset and annoyed me.

I’m sure Dannii meant no harm (Picture: Cameron Smith/Getty Images)

Because, while it’s great to hear celebrities use the words ‘queer’, ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘trans’ and ‘non-binary’, in an effort to normalise sexual and gender identities – we’ve previously seen celebs actually cause harm to the LGBTQ+ through lazy language.

In 2014, singer Jessie J did just that.

In an interview, she suggested her past relationships with both girls and boys was ‘a phase.’ Granted, she quickly added that she was ‘not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody’ but this kind of language can be dangerous.

Bisexuality is a full on identity, and while she doesn’t have to identify as this if she no longer wishes to, implying it’s something someone can choose to be is not accurate.

Fortunately, it came to light that the singer regrets her choice of language from 10 years ago – when she performed an unreleased song at an acoustic show in Los Angeles recently. She sang: ‘2012, I broke up with my beautiful girlfriend, with the press in my face, called it a phase, babe I’m sorry’. 

Yet it still seems we have a long way to go before phrases like ‘it’s a phase’ or ‘a choice’ are gone for good.

Darren Criss (L) called himself ‘culturally queer’ (Picture: 20thC.Fox/Everett/REX/Shutterstock)

More recently, former Glee star, Darren Criss, called himself ‘culturally queer’, stating: ‘Ninety-nine percent of the s**t in my life that I have tried to emulate, learn from, and be inspired by is 100% queer as f**k.’

His words, understandably, made some people angry. Others sided with him, claiming he’s just being a great ally.

Personally, I found myself wondering: what is the real reason for calling yourself queer, when being an ally is far more powerful? When does it stop being allyship, and start becoming performative? 

When are you an ally and when are you commodifying queerness for your own financial gain?

Dannii Minogue’s reported comments – and her Instagram follow up – only deepened my questioning.

At first I thought her calling herself ‘queer in a weird way’ related to her kookiness, her ‘I’m a cool mum, not a regular mum’ type of queerness.

But when she clarified that she was ‘straight and in a long term hetero relationship’, I felt that she had used the word ‘queer’ as a throwaway term.

Even if there was a wider conversation that alluded to her straightness, and long-term ally status – saying you’re queer in any context, when you’re not, is not OK.

It has to stop. Because, let’s be honest, neither Dannii or Darren will ever have to face the challenges that queer people do.

I just want our allies to stay as allies (Picture: Sharan Dhaliwal)

Darren Criss particularly can act queer then go home, to work, education and obtain healthcare as a straight man without facing any hardships. And all with the earnings he makes from the culture of queerness.

Each of them will also live their everyday lives in hetero relationships, without fear of prosecution. Meanwhile same-sex families are still struggling getting equal rights with IVF, queer couples are beaten in our streets and trans people are used as the butt of a joke by politicians

We don’t need allies to say they identify as ‘queer’, what we do need is their support when legislation threatens our existence.

When given a stage on this topic, why do more people not use it to deconstruct preconceived notions of sexuality? When Abbott Elementary’s Tyler James Williams was asked whether he was straight or gay, his response didn’t distance himself from homosexuality, but acknowledged it. 

‘Being straight doesn’t look one way. Being gay doesn’t look one way’, he said in response to the question. ‘Overanalysing someone’s behaviour in an attempt to “catch” them directly contributes to the anxiety a lot of queer and queer-questioning people feel when they fear living in their truth’.

He’s right – we should question these ideas we have of gender and sexuality, and about what looks straight or queer.

Marlon Wayans announced he has a trans child who uses he/they pronouns (Picture: Prime video)

Because when these antiquated rules of femininity and masculinity start to fall away, and queerness is normalised, everyone can finally feel comfortable to be themselves outside of these restrictive norms – and they can do it without fear of harm.

Yes, this includes straight people!

When Marlon Wayans, from White Chicks fame, told the world his child is trans and uses he/they pronouns, he did it with pride. When discussing accepting them, he said: ‘If they can’t get that in the household with their father and their mother, how the f**k do I send them out into the world with that kind of confidence? I’m just so proud of them for being them.’

Wayans could have stayed quiet about it, but instead he told the world. And importantly, he talks about his journey as a parent who now accepts his son. 

We all have people in our lives who are LGBTQ+, and we can all celebrate and love them.

I’m glad Jessie J had a moment to set the record (un)straight, for her and her ex, unfortunately the phrase ‘bisexuality is a phase’ continues to ring in people’s ears.

Because while queerness has always existed, sexual and gender identities are only now getting the stage time they deserve and I just want our allies to stay as allies. 

I want them to be by our side, fighting. Not taking space on our stage.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk

Share your views in the comments below.


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