Esquire, not exactly known for its stake in LGBT visibility and rights, tweeted this catty jab at gay blogs, piggybacking on the recent criticism that gay blogs had not been covering Frank Ocean enough, even though he is an out artist, and on complaints of “gay-baiting” from stars like the Jonases.
The insult is that gay blogs cover straight artists to the exclusion of gay artists, either out of some sort of lack of consideration for GULP our own kind, or maybe because Frank Ocean is black, which of course picks another fight, a diversity fight.
We don't need a non-LGBTQ website/social media outfit run by a massive corporation that can pick and choose what it wants to cover (and by the way, is not forbidden from covering gay artists themselves) wading into the fray and attempting to needle gay people on a sensitive topic just so they can get some people riled up on Twitter when they couldn't give two f*cks about the issue beyond the depth of those few characters.
Frank Ocean in a still from Endless (Video still via Boys Don't Cry)
In my opinion, the argument that Frank Ocean wasn't covered enough is nuts. I saw him mentioned on the biggest (bigger 'n' mine, and I covered him several times) gay blogs. If he wasn't covered more, I would chalk that up to a lot of things other than gay blogs being racist or somehow unsupportive of out gay artists.
First, the blogs at my level and below, we are not making any f*cking money. We are putting stuff up for the sheer pleasure of it, and that means we are not necessarily treating our blogs as being all things to all people. So there are going to be holes. For example, I don't like R&B music. I don't like rap. I don't like tattoo culture. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs—yes, even marijuana. I'm not the most fashionable guy alive. I'm also frickin' old, so that colors my tastes. I'm not sure how many hours I am supposed to spend as a public service, but I spend plenty and am not willing to spend more. So whatever crosses my path and interests me and will get clicks or will please me is what goes up.
Don't like it, look elsewhere or sacrifice your own time and money and do your own damn blog.
Or go to work for the website and social media of a giant magazine owned by a giant corporation where you can get paid (something) to be a snarky bitch.
Second, Frank Ocean is seen as a great artist. People are dying for his music, and his sales strategy is unique and is newsworthy (which I have posted about). However, a stream of Frank Ocean stories is not possible because he does not put himself out there like many other artists do, so there is less of an interest in his persona. He isn't selling his sexuality (by which I don't mean his sexual orientation; but that, either), so he is not going to be as clickable. Does that mean he shouldn't be covered at all? Hell, no. But he is not going to be as widely covered as artists whose personae are driving popular culture, and it might even mean he will be less covered than some artists who have not much else going for them but their sexiness.
Sexy = clicks, and sexy is not a bad thing. It's the drumbeat beneath a lot of what makes the world go 'round.
Third, Frank Ocean is a huge, f*cking star. He is not—unlike some artists—beholden to gay blogs. He has his choice of media outlets, and he doesn't seem to engage many of them. That works for him. He is hot-hot-hot, and being less available is part of what helped make his new music so anticipated. What is a gay blog supposed to cover about him, other than an album review (I don't do those—I like doing those, but I have no time, and I certainly was never sent his album to listen to and cover) and the news of his success?
Short version: Frank Ocean is awesome, is a force, is a great stride forward for LGBTQ people, and deserves to be noticed. But in a time when non-corporate blogs make so little money and have to wrack their brains (or, in the case of many blogs you may think are run by committee, their brain), it's a little ridiculous to sneer at them/us for not covering any particular topics or artists enough. Call me to complain when I'm turning down requests for coverage by gay artists, because I often post gay artists, including total newcomers, and I have never been pitched Frank Ocean. (I'm not hurt. If I were Frank Ocean, I wouldn't be looking at my marketing plan and bemoaning the lack of a Boy Culture feature pitch.)
On the topic of pitching, I had a frustrating conversation with a millennial recently who kept saying he hates Nick Jonas. Why? Because of that speech at Stonewall, because he's gay-baiting. Gay-baiting, gay-baiting, gay-baiting.
You know what's offensive to me? When an artist does not like or care about LGBTQ people and tries to pander to us. That does not describe Nick or Joe Jonas, as I know from personal experience, and as anyone should know from checking out their history in a very anti-LGBTQ church and then their personal-epiphany paths toward speaking out positively about gay people. To me, when a public figure does that, that is positive, period. When a musician actively includes LGBTQ fans in his or her marketing strategy, that is a sign of respect, not a sign of contempt, and it's embarrassing when gay people repay this with jeers. It is cartoonish hipster to want equal rights but to question the motives of everyone who agrees with you.
The capper? The young guy I was talking to, who had such seething anger regarding LGBTQ issues and how we are being marketed to, sees Hillary and Trump as the same—and isn't registered to vote.
Easier to get mad about a sexy guy telling his young fans it's okay to be gay than to choose between a politician who is demonstrably and vocally pro-LGBTQ and one who is the opposite? And I'm supposed to be offended by the frequency with which cute Nick and cute Joe Jonas show up on gay blogs?