“What Does a Queer Pop Star Look Like in 2016?” This was the title of an article written by BuzzFeed, recently criticizing singer, Halsey, for her performance with the Chainsmokers at the MTV music awards. The performance featured Halsey in a sparkling white two-piece with a long brown-haired wig over her normally short, punk cut. For many of Halsey’s fans, it was yet another way that she was expressing herself- in her usual unrestrained and in-the-moment attitude. But, for critics, it was just “too straight” to accurately represent Halsey’s “gayness”.
Halsey, who has made her career on being honest and entirely open with her fans, has never been quiet about her sexuality. As an openly bisexual female, Halsey has been paving her own way through the music industry. Make no mistakes, there have been openly gay celebrities in the past. Melissa Ethridge and Elton John being two of the most memorable. That doesn’t make Halsey’s road to success any easier, though. For someone who has promised to be her true self, discovering that ‘self’ and becoming confident with that ‘self’ can be scary. Not to mention when you have the world watching and waiting to judge every step of your journey.
All young, female pop stars are pressured to meet a certain standard to appeal to the larger audience. One could argue that Halsey’s concerts and performances with her fans are a more intimate and safe place for her to be herself. Yet, the VMAs stage is an entirely different world. Its like going to a restaurant with a dress code after years of lounging around at your local pub. The change of clothes and hair doesn’t change who you are as a person. And they certainly shouldn’t encourage people to question your sexual identity.
The beginning of the BuzzFeed article attacks Halsey’s recent VMAs performance. Then it even questions her bisexuality because of it or at least her loyalty to portraying herself as a gay individual appropriately. Later, in the article, BuzzFeed puts the blame of her style choices on the pressure of the industry stating, “ Halsey remains an out bisexual woman, no matter what she does with her art. But she’s also working her way through the thorny tangle of an old-fashioned and male-dominated music industry, which places enormous demands on how women look and act.”
The finger pointing does nothing to take away from the ignorance of their assumptions. If anything, it only adds salt to the wound. Who is to say that Halsey didn’t make the choice in wardrobe, hair and physical interactions entirely on her own? For a singer who has been bravely honest with the world, why would she jump ships so suddenly?
An early report of the incident by Teen Vogue caught Halsey’s initial response to the BuzzFeed article via Twitter. She has since deleted the outspoken responses from her page. Maybe she decided that the article spoke for itself, or maybe she was confident enough in her own peace of mind to let to the article’s flame burn out on its own. But, the damage is already done. The bierasure has been unleashed on the unsuspecting singer, and could have a profound effect on her impressionable fans, out-bisexual individuals and curious ones, as well.
Is there such a thing as not being gay enough (not looking gay enough)? No, but BuzzFeed’s blissful ignorance and drama-seeking headlines have those of us who are openly gay, and feminine, questioning how our femininity is received, even by people in our own LGBT community.
What do you think about Buzzfeed’s response to Halsey’s outfit choice at the VMAs? Is this something that anyone should even comment on with such intensity? Even if the person is famous and in the public eye? Comment and let us know below! Or tweet at us @GlamorousPaper