Is Billie Eilish gay? Why has she been accused of queerbaiting?
Billie Eilish has once again landed in the frying pan of public scrutiny. This time, however, it might not actually be her fault. Who knew making a fun music video with friends could end with accusations of pretending to be gay?
The nineteen-year-old singer certainly didn’t when she released the music video for “Lost Cause” in June 2021. It features Eilish & her gal pals running around a huge mansion in reckless abandon as she laments the “lost cause” of a failed romance.
Was there a sapphic undertone to the video? Many people seemed to think so, but many others disagreed. Then Eilish posted outtakes & behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot to her Instagram with the caption “i love girls”.
Consideration turned quickly into speculation and left people wondering – is Billie Eilish gay or are people seeing what they want to see?
The video starts with a series of jump cuts as Billie Eilish croons softly about how “something’s in the air right now.” People wanted to know exactly what was in the air and if it had anything to do with her possibly being gay.
She’s surrounded by a diverse group of women, all of them comfy cozy as they lounge around a mansion in Los Angeles. They seem to toy with the line between innocently playful & subtly erotic.
Throughout the video, they innocently play games like Twister & shooting water guns at each other. Yet, there’s something provocative about watching them in their intimate moments with each other, while feeling like they’re aware of being watched.
At one point, Billie Eilish kisses another woman who’s wearing a pair of fake lips. The audience has a voyeuristic perspective of their sleepover. It’s not unlike what one might find in an adult video where young women explore their sexuality together, gay or not.
Many people’s understanding of women’s sexuality has been informed by similar media, whether they admit it or not. They’ve almost come to expect young women to sexually experiment with each other in these settings, regardless of orientation.
In the 2000s, Billie Eilish seeming to come out as gay would’ve led to speculation on her level of desirability to men. Fortunately, the 2010s saw society becoming more receptive to women taking ownership of their sexuality and how they express it.
Society was also becoming more receptive to various LGBTQIA+ identities. While we still have a long way to go, it was the start of creating a space for LGBTQIA+ people to explore who they were and how they wanted to express themselves.
Potentially LGBTQIA+ celebrities experience this in the public eye. While not automatically bad, it can encourage thoughtless & invasive speculation. When Billie Eilish didn’t confirm or deny being gay, people started accusing her of queerbaiting.
Once upon a time, queer viewers were made to beg for scraps of onscreen representation. When society started becoming more accepting, media started using the promise of representation to lure in queer viewers in order to guarantee an audience.
Queerbaiting presents a same-sex platonic relationship as having queer romantic potential. While the creators consistently tease at the romance being realized, it’s almost a guarantee it won’t happen – not always, though.
This term doesn’t apply to real people, but elements of it have been used in real life. Jessie J & Nicki Minaj both came out as bisexual early in their careers. They later confessed to only claiming the sexual orientation for attention.
Like queerbaiting, they lured queer fans with promises of representation they would never actually get. Billie Eilish, on the other hand, has never claimed to be gay. In fact, she’s been in two publicized relationships with men.
The public scrutiny comes on the tail end of her own personal controversies. In June, she used her IG account to apologize for using an anti-Asian slur. She’s also been accused of culturally appropriating Black culture.
She landed in hot water again in the same month behind her current boyfriend & actor Matthew Tyler Vorce. He was faced with his own racist & homophobic tweets from the past. He also apologized on her IG account.
Sexual orientation & privacy
Billie Eilish has both been & is dating a problematic person. However, her not identifying as gay when she never indicated she might be neither makes her a bad person nor does it count as queerbaiting.
Her sexual orientation is nobody’s business but her own. Maybe she’s on a journey of self-discovery. Maybe she already knows exactly who she is & who she wants. Either way, she’s the only one who gets to decide.
A few years from now, Eilish might say people were right about the video. Then again, she might maintain it was just supposed to be a cute video with feminine vibes. Regardless, can’t a girl just have some fun? She certainly thought so.