The LGBTQ pride flag flies outside of the Long Beach civic center. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: Ways pop culture invalidates the LGBTQIA experience

Right now, some of the top trending videos on the social media app TikTok feature cisgender heterosexual — or cishet — boys dancing in front of their phones singing along with an autotuned rappers voice.

Nothing special, right? Except, there is something special about these videos that we must pay attention to: what they are singing along with.

The song I am referring to is “I Like Girls” by PnB Rock in which the male rapper sings “I like girls who like girls.” This fetishizes women who love women — known as WLW — because by claiming that his “type” is girls who like girls, he is dumbing down WLW relationships to something that is just for male attention and pleasure.

The amount of famous cishet male TikTokers that are using this song as a backdrop to their videos is absurd and shows just how many cishet men believe that WLW relationships are for their entertainment.

The reason cishet men fetishize WLW so obsessively is because society has a really hard time of accepting and believing in sexuality that doesn’t revolve around, specifically straight, men in some way. Gay men are stereotyped to go after, flirt with and “force themselves on” straight men. Bisexual men are assumed to be gay and bi women are assumed to be straight. Lesbians are fetishized by cishet men.

All of these examples turn sexualities that may have nothing to do with straight men, or even men at all, into something that focuses on men. Many bisexual women share that they often invalidate their sexuality, wondering if the only reason they are experiencing same-gender attraction is that they know men find WLW attractive and, therefore, are doing it for performance.

This brings me to my next point: straight actors being cast to play characters with different LGBTQIA sexualities and cis actors being cast to play transgender characters.

Not only does this take possible jobs away from LGBTQIA actors, but it also promotes the idea that in real life LGBTQIA people are doing it just as a performance and for attention since that is what these actors are doing. When you cast a straight person to play a gay character or a cis person to play a trans character you are, in many ways, invalidating the experience of the real-life people in those groups, since the actor doesn’t understand what it means to be an LGBTQIA person in real life. 

As our society moves forward and progresses LGBTQIA rights and acceptance, we must take extra care and not belittle LGBTQIA+ people to be nothing more than a means of entertainment.