Can We Stop Saying Nick Jonas Is A Gay Icon?

13 June 2016, 18:04 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Nick Jonas
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

Do any gay people actually see Nick Jonas as a gay icon?

Some days, I can happily tolerate a sensationalist headline about a pop star (I'm sure I've written a few myself) but when barefaced lies are spoken like truths, one must exit the Larry Stylinson hole in which one has been vegetating in and take a stand. And today was one of those days. 

The offending item that had me spitting out the proverbial tea was an article about Nick Jonas that lead with the headline: "Nick Jonas Opens Up About Being A Gay Icon And His Very First Sex Scene". 

Let's take a moment to think about that. When I think of 'gay icons' I'm thinking of a) someone who is gay, or b) someone that has done a considerable amount of work for LGBTQ+ causes, or had a large gay fan base, for a long time. 

Does Nick Jonas fulfil any of that criteria? (Admittedly, it is my own and it's not like there is a scientific formula, but it's not exactly a wild stab in the dark either). The answer is... 

However, OUT Magazine had a very different definition when they named him as such. Their definition required little more than 'jamming our social-media feeds with all those sexy photos' and playing a gay character in a film. It would seem all you need to do is beef up, strip down and land a role in a B-movie to join the greats. Who knew?

To be fair to Nick, he has distanced himself from these claims. But the accusations of gay baiting (the use of a false homoerotic narrative in the media to attract more liberal and queer viewers) are less hard to shake off. In a recent interview, Nick claimed he had 'technically' had gay sex with a guy. How? Because he had a gay sex scene in his film, of course. 

I, and many others, were foaming at the mouth when we read that quote. And not in a good way...





The problem is this: by calling Nick Jonas a gay icon, we place attention on him (a cis-white straight male) rather than actual LGBTQ+ persons. It's distracting from people who actually serve the LGBTQ+ community but it also takes away from LGBTQ+ stars that already have a substantially harder time breaking into the mainstream than their straight counterparts (even more so if they aren't white, see the Mykki Blanco #GayMediaSoWhite for further reading).

Just imagine if the column inches hailing Nick Jonas as a 'gay icon' were used to promote LGBTQ+ artists instead? It's hard enough for queer artists to get the attention they deserve. Let's not make matters worse but giving straight beefcakes a status they have no legitimate claim to (and they don't even acknowledge themselves!)