Why Queerbaiting Sucks

Recently I started thinking about the show Supernatural. It just started the last season of its 15-year run. There’s one big question that many fans want answered: will “Destiel” become a thing? “Destiel” is the biggest “ship” – or relationship – of the show. In spite of being the most popular ship of the show, it hasn’t been identified as canon in the nearly 10 seasons it’s been part of the show – which has annoyed fans for years.

You may be wondering what exactly about this ship annoys fans so much. It’s the fact that it is the most prominent example of “queerbaiting.”

Photo Credit: Medium

Queerbaiting is when fiction or entertainment hint at queer relationships without actually portraying it, for the purpose of getting views and money. This means that shows, movies, and books are portraying characters as being in queer relationships without actually identifying the relationship as queer or even as a romantic relationship. Dean and Castiel – the two characters within Destiel – are hinted at being romantically involved both in the show and in interviews. It’s gone so far as to some writers making jokes about the ship in episodes.

Destiel is far from being the only example of queerbaiting. It’s come up in relation to celebrities like Ariana Grande and in many shows and movies, including Riverdale, BBC Sherlock, Teen WolfCaptain Marvel, and Marvel in general. The list can go on. So we know that this isn’t a one-time thing, but actually a widespread issue.

The queer identity is being used solely to gain the viewership of the queer community. However, at the same time they’re being invalidated. Without the confirmation of a queer relationship, it is implied that these relationships don’t actually matter. This idea is detrimental to the queer community: it shows young queer people that they don’t matter and that their identities are invalid.

Many people don’t understand the importance of proper representation for helping people understand themselves. When I was questioning my sexuality, I tried so hard to convince myself I wasn’t bisexual. I thought, “I like guys, so I must be straight.” But I was denying the fact that I liked girls too. I was scared and I didn’t understand.

Then when I saw the character Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it helped me accept who I am. Rosa came out as bisexual on the show and her friends all accepted and supported her. It was so moving to see someone with my identity portrayed on screen. But what was even more important was seeing her loved ones accept who she is. It showed me that people would accept me for who I am.

So, queerbaiting, as the opposite, has a very detrimental effect on the queer community. Young queer and questioning people aren’t given the reassurance that what they’re feeling is real and okay. Queerbaiting confirms the negative feelings they have and keeps them from being who they are.

I’m not saying all these relationships have to become canonically queer. All we need is for creators to stop using the queer identity as a marketing strategy. Being queer isn’t a game or an easy marketing tactic. It’s an identity and should be treated as such.


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