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'Gaydar' or 'wishdar'? The danger in obsessing over Shawn Mendes' sexuality

Pop stars Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello announced last week that they are ending their two-year relationship, sending a meteorite crashing through the LGBTQ universe — or at least gay Twitter.

Mendes identifies as straight, but rumors have swirled about his sexuality for years. The topic is one of long-standing fascination within the queer community, and his breakup did little to quell gossipers and defenders alike.

Hundreds of users posted memes on social media in the past week, many of them joking about how gay men will be flocking to the heartthrob's home now that he’s single. Google searches for “Shawn Mendes gay” hit a three-year peak last week as news of the couple’s split broke, dwarfing searches for Transgender Awareness Week, which landed at the same time.

“The gays rejoice,” a user wrote on Twitter.

But others said the rumors and the jokes were “gross.”

“are some of the shawn mendes gay jokes funny? yes. do they also remind me of that unspeakably awful, gut-punch feeling i’d get when i was closeted and someone TOLD me i was gay because i let the mask slip and acted feminine for one whole second? also yes,” gay social media influencer Matt Bernstein wrote on Twitter, garnering over 6,000 likes.

Mendes has not addressed the latest hearsay and did not reply to a request for comment. He has previously said the gossip is “frustrating.”

“You want to say, ‘I’m not gay but it’d be fine if I was gay — but also there’s nothing wrong with being gay but I’m not.’ You don’t really know how to respond to the situation,” he said in an interview on Dax Shepard’s podcast, “Armchair Expert,” last year.

Mendes is not the only celebrity who has been subjected to the rumor mill. Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Hillary Clinton and Hugh Jackman — all self-identified heterosexuals — are just some of the public figures who have had their turns.

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by Anonymousreply 43December 9, 2021 1:00 AM

For years, the close friendship between Winfrey and CBS host Gayle King sparked rumors that the two were a couple. In 2010, Winfrey told ABC News’ Barbara Walters, “I’m not a lesbian … I’m not even kind of a lesbian.”

“The reason why it irritates me is because it means that somebody must think I’m lying. That’s number one,” she said. “Number two … Why would you want to hide it? That is not the way I run my life.”

But while speculation about sexuality among gay friends has existed as long as gay people have, when the speculation moves to a public forum, it can be damaging, some experts say.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and the author of “Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man,” said such speculation can be particularly damaging if the subject is actually gay and is not ready to come out on their own terms.

“If it actually is true that they might be gay and people are speculating about it, you’re going to sort of make them feel threatened and endangered,” Drescher said, stressing that he was speaking hypothetically and not about a specific public figure. “Even though he may like getting his name in the newspaper and people talking about him, there would be a part of him that would be very, very anxious by all the talk. There would be no way a person wouldn’t be made anxious by all of this talk if they didn’t want people to know this about themselves.”

‘Gaydar’ vs. ‘wishdar’

LGBTQ sex-columnist and podcaster Dan Savage sees it a bit differently from Drescher.

“Sometimes it’s hard for gay men to separate their ‘gaydar’ from their ‘wishdar,’” Savage said. “There’s not a lot of speculation in the gay community that Louis C.K. must be gay. When I was growing up, Tom Cruise was who everyone speculated about, and now it’s Shawn Mendes, because we all wish he would be.”

Savage said that harmful or not, such speculation is inevitable.

“You can slap the ‘this is potentially harmful’ label on it and people are still going to do it,” he said. “We’re all assumed to be straight, and there’s a time in all of our lives when we’re saying we’re straight when we’re not because we were forced to say that. So we look at other people who are currently saying that, and we know that there is a significant percentage of them who are lying like we did when we were kids.”

Collateral damage

High-profile speculation and outings — particularly if they are of the unkind variety — could harm more than just the subjects of the rumors. Kevin Wong, the vice president of communications for the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, said it could be “incredibly invalidating” for LGBTQ youths in particular.

“If you were thinking about coming out and you see something occurring on a world stage where people are being mean-spirited about somebody else’s potential sexual orientation or speculating about somebody’s gender identity, you’re going to internalize that,” Wong said. “That will make you feel ashamed. That will ascribe stigma to how you feel about yourself and your identities.”

by Anonymousreply 1November 26, 2021 10:02 PM

Wong pointed to the disproportionate rates of bullying, harassment, mental health issues and suicidal thoughts plaguing LGBTQ youths. A study this year by the Trevor Project found that more than 52 percent of LGBTQ middle and high schoolers reported having been bullied in person or online. In a separate survey this year, the Trevor Project found that 42 percent of LGBTQ youths have seriously considered suicide within the last year. Over 34,000 LGBTQ youths were surveyed for both studies.

“Anyone who is using their platform or their language to bully or harass someone around sexual orientation or gender identity, they’re contributing to that,” Wong said.

Clinton Anderson, the American Psychological Association's acting chief of psychology in the public interest, compared the high-profile speculation around celebrities and politicians to the media coverage of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi’s suicide in 2010.

Clementi, who was out to only a small circle of family and friends, died by suicide after he learned that his roommate had secretly recorded him having a romantic encounter with a man.

“Kids reading about that associate being exposed with killing yourself,” Anderson said. “That’s not a good association or message for a young person who is himself struggling with the kind of situation that that young man was in.”

Is outing ever justified?

Not all speculation or outing in public forums is created equally, said Mike Rogers, who made a career outing elected officials in his former blog, BlogActive. Rogers’ reporting, which focused on outing elected officials who actively worked against LGBTQ rights, was the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Outrage.”

Rogers recalled seeing firsthand a man perform a sex act on another man “the same day that his boss, George W. Bush, introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment,” Rogers said, referring to a proposed amendment to the Constitution in 2004 that would have banned same-sex marriage.

“That’s just unacceptable to me,” he said.

As for the speculation surrounding Mendes, Rogers said: “My first question would be, ‘What has he done that is anti-gay?’ And if you can’t give me anything, I’m not interested in the story.”

Anti-gay lawmakers aside, Savage said he empathizes with LGBTQ people who are angered by public figures who are, in fact, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer and are not out.

“We’re not all 14 and in high school. If you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s and you’re safe — emotionally, you can’t be retaliated against by your family, professionally — and you’re not out, I think that’s a moral failing,” Savage said. “But still, we all hated this when people speculated about us before we were out. And then once we’re out, we all do it. What is up with that?”

by Anonymousreply 2November 26, 2021 10:03 PM

Just focus on the music guys!

by Anonymousreply 3November 26, 2021 10:03 PM

No straight man styles his hair like THAT.

by Anonymousreply 4November 26, 2021 10:04 PM

I look forward to a fretful NBC News piece about heterosexual 'wishdar' and how psychologically damaging it is to assume celebrities are straight.

by Anonymousreply 5November 26, 2021 10:04 PM

R4 what decade do you live in?

by Anonymousreply 6November 26, 2021 10:07 PM

Oh, please, "wishdar" applies to straights as well. There were fangirls who used to insist that Matt Bomer and Wentworth Miller were straight.

by Anonymousreply 7November 26, 2021 10:08 PM

Christ, how blind or self loathing do you have to be to write or publish something like this?

by Anonymousreply 8November 26, 2021 10:08 PM

If he actually made music worth paying attention to, maybe people would focus on that?

by Anonymousreply 9November 26, 2021 10:24 PM

Hahaha, fag’s PR team is working overtime for their rest. We will never not call out your homo tendencies Mr. Wentworth Miller, I mean, Mr. Mendes.

by Anonymousreply 10November 26, 2021 10:26 PM

If you want to see wishdar....talk to all the Claymates who insisted that Clay Aiken was just waiting for Mrs Right to come along

by Anonymousreply 11November 26, 2021 10:27 PM

Clay "came out" just to get you off his back.

by Anonymousreply 12November 26, 2021 10:34 PM

Fuck NBC.

by Anonymousreply 13November 26, 2021 10:39 PM

“I always assume everyone is gay unless told otherwise.” Harvey Fierstein

by Anonymousreply 14November 26, 2021 10:45 PM

I posted this in the other thread, but an intern for Marco Rubio shared this article on his Twitter account. Very interesting considering the amount of rumors Rubio has here on the DL. The bubble bath parties, anyone?

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by Anonymousreply 15November 27, 2021 2:25 AM

Remember this?

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by Anonymousreply 16November 27, 2021 2:26 AM

R11 Claymates?? Is that really what they call themselves? 😆

by Anonymousreply 17November 27, 2021 6:51 AM

The current one R6, and I stand by my earlier comment. It looks like it took 3 hours to position those curls...

by Anonymousreply 18November 27, 2021 7:37 AM

Wishdar my ass, if that faggot that posted that shit article wants to play blind, deaf and dumb that's on him. Meanwhile anyone with working eyes can tell this cocksucker is flaming.

by Anonymousreply 19November 27, 2021 7:41 AM

R5 Exactly, look at all the str8 fish who get angry when a hot male celeb comes out or are shocked and never knew they were gay. Wentworth Miller, Lee pace, Matt bomer etc. Str8 people will never know more than us over who's gay.

by Anonymousreply 20November 27, 2021 7:44 AM

[quote]The bubble bath parties, anyone?

Foam parties, baby. They're called foam parties.

by Anonymousreply 21November 27, 2021 7:56 AM

While I do think it is annoying that some gays think every hot person gay, it is life threatening for hets to insist someone is not gay, or ignore their statements to the contrary. False equivalency at its finest. As others here have pointed out, there are endless frauen who will insist to their last breath that a flamer like Richard Simmons is “all man.” What I think both camps often miss is bisexuality. Personally, I have no idea about Shawn Mendes’ sexuality, nor do I care. He doesn’t meet the Mike Rogers criteria for outing, but he makes it worse for himself by his overreaction, and overcompensation. The reality is that he is a very effeminate young man, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If he’s not already in therapy, he should be, as soon as possible. It could help him learn to accept himself, whatever the situation actually is.

by Anonymousreply 22November 27, 2021 8:05 AM

The problem with articles like this is that they overlook the central problem -- Hollywood and the music industry are still pressuring hundreds of celebrities to stay in the closet. Even though we are nearly in 2022, things have not changed all that much from the 1950's and the days of Rock Hudson being pressured to marry a woman to hide the fact he was gay. Gay celebrities today are still being told to delay coming out or to engage in heterosexual showmances.

Until the media starts putting more pressure on the industry and the executives to allow gay celebrities to come out, this situation will continue.

by Anonymousreply 23November 27, 2021 9:28 AM

FUCK this shit.

Seriously, it feels like we are going backward. Wondering, gossiping, etc. if someone is gay/bi/etc. is not a crime. There is no "danger". This is nothing more than a homophobic industry covering it's own ass, and turning it around on everyone else as if we are the bad guys. Fuck that. As said above, as long as the industry continues to see anything other than a straight image/sexual orientation as a career liability, then naturally, people are going to wonder and gossip, especially gay people themselves. We know people like ourselves have been some of the biggest star and artists of all time, then and now, so we know something is up. Now, personally badgering individuals with such speculation is of course crossing the line. And no one is saying to out anyone. But the public sphere is something else. People are going to talk, and the more you act like something is a taboo, the more you call attention to it. Especially for a business that basically sells sex. You can't only have it one way Hollywood.

What I hate about this entire conversation playing out right now, especially by gay/bi people in the media themselves writing these articles, is that they know what's up. And sadly, so many of the younger folks are actually buying into this bullshit. All it is is a not-so subtle way to protect the status quo. And yet they want to turn it around on gay/bi people themselves, as if we're the ones that crossed the line. Fuck that. And fuck them.

by Anonymousreply 24November 27, 2021 11:20 AM

R16 I WISH I saw Rubio in your pic. Sadly I don't. I used to have a thing for him, until he turned into a total Trump stooge.

by Anonymousreply 25November 27, 2021 12:02 PM

Nobody is obsessing over him, he is basically a has been and his career is on the rocks right now.

Every celebrity has rumours around them, most of them are way worse than people thinking you are gay. Get over it

by Anonymousreply 26November 27, 2021 12:15 PM

[quote]Google searches for “Shawn Mendes gay” hit a three-year peak last week as news of the couple’s split broke, dwarfing searches for Transgender Awareness Week, which landed at the same time.

This is the best part.

by Anonymousreply 27November 27, 2021 12:16 PM

"If I could be a superhero it'd be beyonce because she's just FABULOUS!"

by Anonymousreply 28November 27, 2021 12:21 PM

Did we really need another thread about this bitch??


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by Anonymousreply 29November 27, 2021 1:27 PM

R25 Those photos were originally in the National Enquirer. Though they are a trashy tabloid, they do tend to have good sources and a lot of their dirt is accurate. Bezos got his lawyers involved with them because they had genuine nude photos of him. I believe those photos of Rubio are legit. I also think it's funny that this article got the attention of Rubio world. It raises eyebrows.

by Anonymousreply 30November 27, 2021 4:17 PM

I think he's gay. I don't obsess over it, or care. I just think it's obvious.

by Anonymousreply 31November 27, 2021 4:22 PM

[quote]I think he's gay. I don't obsess over it, or care. I just think it's obvious.

Oh honey, I don’t know.

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by Anonymousreply 32November 27, 2021 4:28 PM

MAGA EDWlN is the OP of this thread.

He hates gay men.

by Anonymousreply 33November 27, 2021 4:31 PM

I think one of the more obvious tells that Shawn is gay is his ogling of men. Here he is eying a man's chest hair and licking his lips. This gif is very hard to find. Fortunately, DL saves everything.

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by Anonymousreply 34November 27, 2021 4:35 PM

He's one of those kids that wouldn't even need to come out to his family. Also, gays are not obsessing over his sexuality. We just see the obvious and his behavior is same as every closeted kid in high school. Straight teen girls are the ones obsessing over his sexuality by getting so defensive over gay accusations. As if being gay is some type of attack on his moral character. He wouldn't need to be in the closet like this if straight girls weren't so obsessed over their teen idols being obtainable. The hypocrisy of straight people...

by Anonymousreply 35December 2, 2021 5:35 AM

R34 That's exactly how I behave in front of men I find attractive, the mannerisms are all there, checking him out but not making direct eye contact etc..

by Anonymousreply 36December 2, 2021 5:45 AM

That gloppy hairstyle went out of style over a decade ago.

by Anonymousreply 37December 2, 2021 5:48 AM

He's a beautiful guy. Certainly he gets dick all the time. It must be exhausting getting all the non-disclosure agreements in order. Maybe his PR is just good at paying his hookups to be quiet? Or he has regular booty calls who he can trust. Like that cute Connor guy.

by Anonymousreply 38December 2, 2021 7:01 AM

^ It's the latter.

by Anonymousreply 39December 2, 2021 2:43 PM

We speculate about celebrities' sexuality because it's 2021 and the fact that the industry still pressures (particularly gay men) to say in the closet is beyond ridiculous.

by Anonymousreply 40December 8, 2021 8:08 PM

Danger, Shawn Mendes, Danger! Danger!

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by Anonymousreply 41December 8, 2021 9:20 PM

Shawn bottom mendes is not fooling anyone aside from silly fraus and fancunts.

by Anonymousreply 42December 8, 2021 9:24 PM

He got the fame and adoration he wanted. His career is flopping now because he has marginal talent and has not grown as an artist. His bubblegum pop is disposable. He's not as intelligence, the business family connections or female victimhood narrative that Taylor Swift has nor the creativity and talent of Ed Sheeran (yeah he's bland but he is musically gifted and flexible). Nor does have a comeback tale from rock-bottom and born-again Christiandom like Justin Bieber has. He made the most money off his first few albums that he could have came out by now before he reached this flopping point and had to do that awful PR relationship. Now if he comes out like next year, he will have no audience. Best option should retire for 10 years and once nostalgia factor kicks in, he can tour.

by Anonymousreply 43December 9, 2021 1:00 AM
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