Drake Bell enraged Twitter on Monday with intolerant tweets he posted shortly after Vanity Fair debuted Caitlyn Jenner in its July 2015 issue.
“Sorry….still calling you Bruce,” the former Nickelodeon actor tweeted his now 3.22 million followers, in response to the stunning Annie Leibovitz-shot cover.
The magazine’s headline reads “Call Me Caitlyn,” and was the 65-year-old’s official, public stepping into her identity as a woman, and an adios to living life as Bruce Jenner. As days go, it was an important one for the transgender community and society recognizing Caitlyn as a woman, and her personal right to be identified as such.
While many celebrities and large swathes of Twitter celebrated Caitlyn’s transition (Jenner beat President Barack Obama’s previous record as the fastest gainer of one million Twitter followers), Drake took the time to rain on Jenner’s parade before quickly backtracking and deleting his transphobic tweets.
Bell followed up with the tweet below, which may have been him calling himself brave for voicing his provocative opinion, or his attempt to whitewash it.
As furious replies from Twitter users impacted Drake’s mentions, the 28-year-old hit back. Bell baited, “Good thing social media has no effect on real life.” The former Drake & Josh star’s next tweet might have been an attempt to quiet the storm, but — yet again — Drake referred to Jenner as male and refused to use her name.
Bell insisted, “I’m not dissing him! I just don’t want to forget his legacy! He is the greatest athlete of all time! Chill out!” A few minutes later, he added, “Calm down children,” before subsequently deleting all of these tweets.
Some Twitter users saw Bell’s bullish refusal to use a female pronoun and Caitlyn’s name as reminiscent of the insensitivity Drake showed Justin Bieber for years, and which began when the “Baby” singer was still in his teens.
we should of known Drake Bell was a mess when he kept misgendering Justin Bieber and calling him a girl as if thats funny
— Richéy (@RicheyCollazo) June 1, 2015
That moment when Justin Bieber is a more open minded, compassionate, accepting human to LGBT people than you, @DrakeBell
— Poison Paradise (@PoisonParadise) June 1, 2015
I knew Drake Bell was full of ignorance and hatred since he began that bizarre campaign against Bieber and called him a girl everyday.
— Mallory Nathan (@mallrose) June 1, 2015
Strong words. Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Just for the record I’m actually a fan of Katy Perry. Someone must have hacked me while they were bored
— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) July 3, 2012
Ok first belieber with proper grammar that speaks with intelligence gets a prize…ready go!
— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) July 24, 2012
Bell’s attacks escalated over the years in media interviews, music appearances, an airport layover, and eventually culminated with Drake replying on Instagram to a teen, female fan and telling her to “die” in September 2014.
Notably, Bell was attacking Bieber’s height, build, abilities, and calling the then 18-year-old singer a “girl” long before the Biebs’ arrests and legal cases. All of which likely had deeper causes, and the Canadian has now apologized for. Repeatedly.
How does Justin get his lips so shiny? pic.twitter.com/crelaYkS7T — Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) April 7, 2013
Justin Bieber is 5’6″ now I understand why you guys love him!! He’s the same height as all you 12 year olds! I totally get it now sorry guys
— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) April 7, 2013
“Before I try to beat up the paparazzi I make sure my mascara is perfect!” -Justin Bieber pic.twitter.com/kMQUowudOt — Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) April 7, 2013
Bieber’s single reaction, until his crashing of Bell’s album release party in April 2014, was this tweet.
Drake and Josh was my favorite show as a kid. really.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) July 24, 2012
Following Bieber’s arrest back in January 2014, Bell told his own fans to support an online petition demanding the deportation of the “Where Are U Now” singer from the States to his native Canada. Bell’s retweets of his fans slamming Bieber and Beliebers were previously noted by the Huffington Post. For further reports on Bell’s one-sided feud with Bieber, visit these links.
Speaking to BuzzFeed last year, Bell declared that his role models were Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, and Michael Jackson. He also stated that he was “all about unity and loving your neighbor,” and someone who believes it’s “more rewarding and important to go around the world and bring people together.”
In reality, Bell’s gender-bashing of Bieber was condoned and not identified as what it really was — bullying — because of Bieber’s troubled 2013-2014. As a result, the singer became a media punchbag, ridiculed by Seth Rogen, Wendy Williams and Conan O’Brien, to name just a few, against a backdrop of historic online trolling over his looks.
However, as Bell soon discovered during his dragging on Twitter, his dismissal of Caitlyn’s womanhood exposed him as a tone-deaf voice on what Laverne Cox later described as “a new day… when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally.”
With the exception of Fox News, Timbaland, some of the general public, the religious and political Right, Snoop Dogg, interest groups known to stand against the LGBT community, and some media pundits, Jenner’s emergence as a new, leading figure in the transgender movement has been overwhelmingly welcomed by the progressive majority.
Stars including Sam Smith, Emmy Rossum, Kerry Washington, Mia Farrow, Maria Shriver, Susan Sarandon, Katie Couric, Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, Ellen Page, and more, have expressed their support for Jenner on and off Twitter.
But amid the whoops, it’s worth remembering that in real terms Bell’s tweets about Jenner weren’t any different from the misgendering he leveled at Justin Bieber. For years. And in plain sight. As a culture, are we really saying that some misgendering is okay if a person is deemed unpopular? How shallow. On June 1, Caitlyn Jenner was officially revealed as her authentic self. So was Drake Bell.
I don’t care who you are, transphobia is not, has never been, & will never be OK. Plus, how you react to being called out on it says a lot. — Laura Bush (@bushlaura_) June 2, 2015
— Amanda (@ItsMandizzle) June 2, 2015
Note: The Bell tweets posted or screenshot in this report are a minuscule sample of the many tweets Drake has posted about Bieber and his fans over the years.
[Images via Annie Leibovitz/ Vanity Fair/Getty Images]