It Was Always Addison Rae’s Destiny To Become A Gay Icon

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Addison Rae Easterling, a 21-year-old TikToker from Louisiana, has faced backlash for a wildly long list of offenses: blackfishing, not knowing where Korea is, partying during COVID, and most recently, wearing a bikini with references to Christianity. She’s been clowned on for her outfits and her awkward celebrity mingling — but she’s got over 88 million TikTok followers and was the platform’s highest-earning creator in 2020.

Like many of the straight, white, middle-class, privileged teenagers that the TikTok algorithm favored, Rae assumed a role at the perfect intersection of privilege, celebrity internet culture, and cringe. It was easy to pile on.

Winning the internet’s favor is an elusive and formidable game, but the positive response to her upcoming music actually worked. More specifically: “she is pandering to the girls and the gays and it’s working 😌 🎶,” as one TikTok user put it.

“There is a history of this fandom, the affinity between gay men and female performers, that has become a stereotype,” Eve Ng, a professor of media studies at Ohio University, told BuzzFeed News. “I think it stems from the heteronormativity of masculinity — and the spectacular female performer is the opposite of that. It wasn’t cool to be a fan of pop music. Gay men were ostracized. So there’s a campiness to embracing it.”

New pop icons are often born in the womb of queer clubs. “I think we break new songs all the time,” said Chopstix, a New York City–based DJ and artist. “I can weave in up-and-coming artists easily. At straight parties, people are less willing to dance to music they don’t know.”


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