People won’t leave Odell Beckham Jr. alone.
For a while now, we’ve been seeing the ugly side of the coming out craze. As LGBTQ life and existence becomes more accepted by mainstream audiences, there’s been an increase in fervor for celebrities to come out. Unfortunately, that also means that news sources and internet users have also been known to hound and bother celebrities with questions and demands over the latter’s sexual orientation.
Many celebrities of varying fields and walks of life have expressed negative experiences with “fans” and strangers bothering them about their sexual orientations. From YouTuber Dan Howell, to singer Shawn Mendes, to reality personality Chris Pritchard, and now football player Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham has been dealing with questions over his sexuality for several years now. Despite the athlete repeatedly stating that he’s straight, the conversations won’t stop. And now, the most recent incident is based on a Calvin Klein underwear campaign.
Yesterday, Odell Beckham Jr. posted a photo to Instagram of himself in Calvin Klein underwear as a part of a larger campaign that features celebs like Beckham, Diplo, Gigi Hadid, Jacob Elordi, Lay Zhang, and Jelly Lin in “real-life” situations and scenery.
But the comments of his post were full of accusations and questions about Odell’s sexuality.
“OBGay,” wrote one commenter, as a pun of OBJ’s initials.
“Sussssss he tryna defend the fact that he’s gay,” wrote another.
“Boy look gay as hell,” shared a third.
In response to these continued talks about his sexuality, Beckham posted an updated caption saying:
““Yallll chilllll mann damnnnn! It be a lot of y’all sayin sus and alll the other comments that realllly be a direct reflection of who u are! Im straight! Like beyond it. If I sit here and defend myself y’all gon say im tryna defend myself , if I sit there and say nothin yalll gon say ‘seee he didn’t say anything..’I’m good wit me. Which is dumb straightttt… Period. lol I don’t neeed to say this shxt no mooooo! Half y’all girls in these comments. This the last time ima break this shxt down for y’all. And lastly before I got hit the weight room! Much love to everybody out there! Fellas sorry man, gotta get a (bag) for it!””
Introducing the other side of #OdellBeckhamJr… off the field.
— calvinklein (@CalvinKlein) August 12, 2019
Again, this is just the latest in 5 years’ worth of talks surrounding the Cleveland Browns receiver’s sexual orientation. Rumors and internet talk had gotten so heated that GQ asked Beckham about the subject last month.
“I’ve never had an opportunity to talk about this,” said Beckham. “Honestly wasn’t offended. I’ve never once had no problem with anybody who has their own personal life that they live. I have friends who are gay. It was almost more funny to me. I almost messed with them even more. It’s like when someone gives me an ultimatum, I’m usually always going to go to the opposite way of what you want me to go. So when they would say that, I would almost mess with them even more. I have no problem with anyone’s sexual orientation.”
“I feel like posts like that only contribute to homophobia in the black community,” GQ responded. “The idea that someone must be gay—or that being gay is in any way shameful—because they’re dancing or have blond hair seems so small-minded.”
Beckham then added: “Or because they’re ‘close with other men.’ Even like little videos where they see me leaned back or something, they’ll say that I’m looking at a guy’s ass. And I’m like, ‘Bro! You don’t even know where my mind is at.’ It was just a lose-lose. They’d see me with a white woman and be like, ‘Why don’t you be with any sisters?’ I have no problem with any race. Love is love. If you’re attracted to somebody, you’re attracted to somebody. There was such a stigma built up, [as though] I don’t like my own women. It’s like, no, I don’t like anybody who annoys me. [laughs]”
There are many factors surrounding Beckham and the continuing conversations around his sexuality. This Calvin Klein incident spotlighted homophobia within the black community, which is the result of the societal need for black men to be seen as hyper-masculine (and possibly an aftereffect of the Christian religion’s influence on Black people).
But on top of that, this situation touches on the internet’s/societies unhealthy obsession with coming out stories. Not only are news sources constantly hounding down celebrities about their sexuality like what happened with Chris Pritchard (and frankly, it’s because coming out headlines trend), but everyday citizens are often buzzing around celebs with hopes of coming out gossip as well.
This is an unhealthy trend and obsession that needs to slow down. We’re ultimately harming the process of coming out by thirsting for it. Straight men who aren’t gay are bothered by continued rumors and speculation into topics that they’ve already denied such as Shawn Mendes and Odell Beckham Jr.
And even if a celebrity or personality is gay but in the closet, the continued speculation is not helpful to the coming out process. Actual gay men in the closet feel pressured and watched because of gay rumors, as YouTuber Dan Powell confessed.
Ultimately, we need to respect every person’s wishes on how they want to be seen and labeled. Even if we think otherwise, it’s a person’s right to define themselves and label themselves how they want. If we continue to badger and bother celebrities about their sexual orientation, we will be harming the very concepts of self-expression and queer identity that we parade on every June. And then we have become the same as the very people we march against.