“I’m not gay,” Justin Bieber captioned an Instagram video of him air-kissing a male security guard on Sunday. He added, “But even if I was that’s not an insult.” Only those unaware of the years of gender-based bullying Bieber has been subjected to — and still is — on social media, in the press, and general punditry, could possibly be wondering why the singer felt the need to clarify where he stands on the “gay” topic.
Here is the video of Bieber doing 360 turns on his IO HAWK device on a private jet, before his near-kiss of the bodyguard Mike Arana.
The singer’s Instagram video caption reads, “@mikeyarana I’m not gay but even if I was that’s not an insult.”
If you listen very closely, you can hear Arana jokingly “you’re gay,” which was evidently the primary reason for Bieber’s message. But the backdrop of historic homophobic attacks on the star no doubt played a part in his decision to make a wider statement.
It’s a perfectly harmless statement by a 21-year-old who isn’t the most erudite of pop stars. It also comes across as Bieber’s attempt to avoid being misinterpreted by the many in the media that seem to find value in doing exactly that.
Inevitably, many outlets did manage to find fault with Bieber essentially saying he does not believe there is anything wrong with being gay. Heatworld snarked with the following.
“J-Biebs posted the following caption to make it super-clear that he is NOT gay.
He just isn’t, not at all, he’s not gay even a little bit gay and it wouldn’t be an offensive thing to say anyway, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not gay. OK? Got it? Good. ‘Cos Justin Bieber really wants you to know that. As long as you know that, it’s fine…”
The outlet continued in sarcastic text accompanying the second selfie Bieber shared after the kiss video.
Heatworld’s comment? “Ah bless, look how sleepy and heterosexual he looks. Lovely.”
Over at Yahoo UK’s “Justin Bieber Tells Followers He’s ‘Not Gay’ After Posting Video Of Himself Kissing A Male Friend On The Cheek” article, the author wrote as follows.
“Thanks for clarifying, Biebs. We’re not sure how many people would’ve made that ridic link between a kiss on the cheek and someone’s sexuality, but sure.”
However, a viewing of the mostly homophobic remarks left in the comments section under Yahoo UK’s report, Mail Online’s article, the endless Miley Cyrus comparisons made at the Biebs’ expense, and the scale of gay and lesbian-referencing insults that have been hurled at him since he was child star, tells a very different story.
Back in February, 2014, TV Guide editor Sadie Gennis explored what she called the “out of control [Bieber] media narrative” in an insightful piece.
“For his entire career, criticisms of Bieber have focused on ridiculing his manhood — calling him a lesbian, a little b**** — and accusing him of PMSing if, God forbid, he expressed emotion or vulnerability.”
Fast forward to the body shaming that followed when Bieber was unveiled as the face — and body — of Calvin Klein in January, 2015, and the tsunami of gay/lesbian-centric jokes heard at his Comedy Central Roast in March. A snapshot of some of those jokes follows.
“Selena Gomez wanted to be here but she’s dating men now. Is it true you dumped her because she grew a mustache before you?.”
“You acted so much like a p**** on the show that Ellen tried to eat you.”
“You gotta give it up for Justin. He started from the bottom and he’s still a bottom.”
In his speech, Bieber told the dais and the roast audience, “Look, I’m new to comedy, but here’s a joke: ‘What do you get when you give a teenager $200 million dollars? A bunch of has-beens calling you a lesbian for two hours.'”
So, Justin Bieber gets it. He gets that — even as ripped as he now is — not being built, or looking like The Rock inspires some who think being gay is a moral failing to call him that as an “insult.”
The pushback against such ignorance continues. Many fans’ comments at Bieber’s video post praised him for calling out that limited way of thinking. One wrote, “you are the best! That’s the coolest thin I have ever heard you say ‘even if I was that’s not an insult’ I love you a million times more for that!” [sic]
Despite the evidently, wilful misreading of Bieber’s caption by many media commentators, it is admirable that the singer chose to educate his over 28 million Instagram followers — many of whom are at an impressionable age — that “gay” isn’t an inherently insulting term, or sexuality.
That his point appears to have been lost on numerous media outlets is as predictable as it is disingenuous. For an example of the casual, media homophobia leveled against Bieber over the years, read the last line of this 2014 Guyism article. It’s quite something.
[Images via Instagram]