A couple of weeks ago, the editorial director of voices and executive editor of queer articles at a prominent feminist publication (I will not name which one, as I do not want to give his piece more traffic) wrote an article about how it was “bullshit” Demi Lovato did not want to come out and wanted her sexuality to remain private. His view is that it’s “problematic” for her to say she wants privacy in this part of her life because it implies being queer is shameful. Despite Demi saying she’ll clarify her feelings on her own terms, this gay cis man feels he knows what is best for the community as a whole.
After Demi responded to him, informing him that it’s not his business and to “watch [her] documentary” (coming out on October 17th on YouTube) if he’s so curious, it seemed the issue had died down. Then a couple of days ago, I saw him arguing on Twitter with Demi fans and queer women alike (often including crossover between the groups). A bisexual woman writer named Lyndsay Morgan had written her own rebuttal, sparking his anger and need to rehash his views. I myself attempted to debate him, but apparently my views weren’t “nuanced” enough for him (ironic, seeing as he would consider no point of view different from his own, insisting things were the way he saw them). I wound up muting him, but the conversation has still been turning around in my head. And so, I would like to lay out, point-by-point, why I believe his argument (based on his article and the things he said to me) to be fundamentally flawed:
- His Argument: Demi Lovato wishing for her sexuality to remain private is problematic because it implies being queer is shameful.
My Rebuttal: Given that he is the only person I’ve seen make this interpretation, I’m going to make a blanket statement and say that’s a reach. There are many reasons a person may want their sexuality to remain a private thing. Additionally, Demi has been a very vocal supporter of the queer community. Her “Really Don’t Care” music video took place at a Pride parade and featured many queer attendees. She spent a large portion of her 2016 show in Orlando doing a tribute for the victims of the Pulse Shooting. Earlier that year, Demi won GLAAD’s Vanguard Award. I would say she doesn’t find it shameful at all. She merely feels it’s no one’s business but her own.
- His Argument: Shame is the only reason she wants to keep it private.
My Rebuttal: I think Mr. Queer Expert doesn’t realize that things are different for queer women than queer men. (Demi has alluded very much to being queer, so I’m operating under the assumption that she is. If she turns out not to be, the reasons still stand for other queer women.) Queer women are sexualized to alarming degrees. Perhaps Demi wants to keep that part of her life away from voyeuristic eyes. She also may not know yet exactly how she defines herself. When asked, Demi often says she wants her music to be enjoyed on its own merits, without her sexuality as the forefront concern. It could even be a little of all three or some other reason I haven’t thought of.
- His Argument: If that’s all she really means, she should be able to just say that.
My Rebuttal: A lot of those responses would pretty much require coming out, which is something she’s said she’s not yet ready to do. She will talk about her sexuality on her own terms. She doesn’t want it to become the big scoop. And, more importantly, she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.
- His Argument: Her sexuality doesn’t have to be a big scoop. She’s just making everything into a big deal.
My Rebuttal: Her sexuality doesn’t have to be a big scoop, but it inevitably will be. That’s how all the tabloids and celebrity news programs operate. I mean, look at Halsey and Lauren Jauregi. Both women have come out as bisexual, and ever since then every news piece done on them focuses on that an exorbitant amount. Undoubtedly, Demi’s noticed this. She doesn’t want her sexuality to be a headline; she wants it to be a moment of personal growth.
- His Argument: She’s been open about her mental health issues, so why not this?
My Rebuttal: If you’ll remember, she was kind of forced into a corner when she publicly quit her tour and went to rehab. She could either pretend it didn’t happen or try to help others. She chose to help. But just because she let us in on some parts of her life, doesn’t mean she’s required to let us in on them all.
- His Argument: She can help people by telling the truth about her sexuality and not insisting on “privacy.”
My Rebuttal: Yes, she could. But, she could also be helping people by telling them their sexuality is nobody’s business but their own and that they should never feel pressured to come out.
- His Argument: No straight person insists on privacy in regards to their sexuality. It’s only ever queer people.
My Rebuttal: Maybe that’s because people keep trying to make queer people’s sexualities their business. They try to regulate our lives simply because we’re not heterosexual and/or cisgender. However, Demi has always kept her sexuality and love life private. She refused to sing about sex for years because that was a part of her private life and she didn’t want her parents to hear it. Hell, it took her four years to even admit she was dating Wilmer Valderrama. It seems like this has always been something Demi has chosen to keep private.
- His Argument: Demi is hurting the queer community in saying she wants to keep her sexuality private.
My Rebuttal: I don’t think she is. Perhaps a few, like yourself, feel that way, but the majority of us had no problem when she said that. We respected her feelings. It seems to me like you’re the one reading too much into things and forcing this meaning on it. Meanwhile, you are hurting actual closeted queer women with your article, implying that they’re bad people and hurting the community by keeping their sexuality private.
- His Argument: I am not hurting anyone. The people who disagree with me are saying I’m hurting Demi, not queer women.
My Rebuttal: The amount of queer women in your mentions telling you otherwise begs to differ. In fact, it seems to me we’re the ones adding nuance to your narrow-minded view. You won’t even acknowledge that you could be wrong and have negatively affected a large portion of the community.
- His Argument: Simmer.
My Rebuttal: Says the man who wrote an entire article throwing a tantrum because he didn’t like what a celebrity had to say and without doing any research into said celebrity regarding the topic.
As you can probably tell, I ended our debate with very little respect for the man. It quickly became very apparent that he acted before asking any questions. This man is a professional journalist, and he did a piss poor job at doing his job. Additionally, he refuses to listen to anyone with any experiences or insight outside of his own. He put his ego before reality and the feelings of others. So, from now on, take anything he writes with a grain of salt (if you happen to know who I’m talking about).
This sense of entitlement crosses into territories beyond a celebrity’s sexuality. Remember, even with someone as open and honest as Demi Lovato, you are not owed answers about any part of their lives. They owe you zero explanations for how they live and who they are. They provide a service and you are the consumer— nothing more. No matter how close to them you may feel.
And to any queer woman in the closet: you are valid. You can stay in the closet as long as you need for any reason. Don’t let thick-headed guys like this closet-shame you. Don’t let them make you feel like you’re a bad ally. Your contributions matter and you are loved.
Update: In Demi’s new documentary “Simply Complicated,” she states that what she wants is a human connection. She also confirmed that she is on the dating app Raya, which allows you to match with men and women. She has not yet given a label to her sexuality and possibly never will, but she does, in fact, belong to the queer community. And that writer guy can suck it.