James Charles' YouTube profile picture (Image courtesy of James Charles)
San Marino High School

Opinion: Why ‘cancelling’ James Charles was best for the queer community

Humans are sexual beings, and at times, the societal stigma surrounding such a natural process of life can be excessive. More than 50% of adolescents — both male and female — have masturbated at least once, for example, yet the sexual act still evokes egregious disgust, according to Time. The only acts truly warranting of this criticism, however, are those that are nonconsensual, those that derive pleasure at the expense of another person’s pain.

This circumstance is what gay men are so often accused of. Hypersexuality has become synonymous with a queer identity to the point where legal defenses like “gay panic” have become ingrained in America’s legal system save for three (possibly four) states of exception. Not only does this imply that gay men have visceral sexual desires, but it also paints them as sub-human, almost animalistic beings without a sense of self-control.

James Charles only perpetuated these stereotypes with his recent behavior. While the mass following behind his more feminine model of masculinity can be seen as a subtle win for the LGBTQ, his predatory actions are exclusively retrogressive.

And it’s more than just an underwhelming and derogative reflection of gay men. He is, at best, implicitly instilling a model of aggression in his million of subscribers when he persistently attempted to coerce — according to beauty guru Tati Westbrook — multiple heterosexual males into committing nonconsensual acts with no consequence (until Westbrook’s video).

What most people neglect is the irony behind it though. The fact that Charles even thought about exploiting straight men to satisfy his sensual desires is, no doubt, the product of celebrity entitlement. But at its core, the YouTuber is also neglecting an axiom that has influenced pro-LGBTQ laws for decades: that being queer isn’t a choice. It was frankly both ignorant and arrogant of Charles to think he could alter this inherent quality of sexual orientation, and at that point, his actions can no longer be oversimplified to a repeated mistake. Call it what it actually is: a role-reversal power grab with conversion-therapy intentions on the basis of status and money.

Of course, experimentation is often noted to convey sexual orientation as a more fluid idea. But even if the men who interacted with Charles, such as Gage Gomez, were interested in seeing how life is on the other side of the Kinsey scale, the YouTuber still had an obligation to take heed of their boundaries. Said men possess the autonomy over their own sexual lives and decisions; there was no need for Charles to be concerned with their business whatsoever.

Coming to Charles’ defense is therefore nothing but a condonation of everything which has undermined the respect that queer people truly deserve. So until the toxic beauty guru turns his words into actions and becomes an accurate representation of the positive impact the queer community can have, he deserves every unfollow, subtweet, and “cancellation” coming his way.