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In the video that queer TikToker Griffin Maxwell Brooks stitched, Bryce Hall and two other male TikTokers, QCP and Aaron Matthews, walk around a pool, lip-syncing to a sarcastic audio about not being “Chads,” a slang term used to refer to usually cocky white men. Matthews and QCP pretend to flirt, with QCP seeming to play a woman by pushing his chest together to create cleavage.
“It really is the vicious cycle that every straight male influencer is subject to,” Brooks says in his stitch of the aforementioned TikTok. “When people inevitably get bored of you because you’ve just been riding on being vaguely attractive and and problematic for five years, you just pretend to be gay and people start speculating and people pay attention again.”
Brooks’ critique seems to be aimed at all three men, but especially at Hall: In July 2021, Hall was spotted kissing a fellow male influencer named Ari Aguirre, which prompted speculation that he was queer. As a follow-up, Hall posted a YouTube video wherein he tells a man that his “dump truck” (butt) is “hot,” is confronted by the man about how he kisses men, and then kisses the man on the lips.
In an Instagram video, Hall says “I kissed 10 dudes for my last vlog and it flopped,” and that he’s “never doing it again because obviously it doesn’t get views.
“Hall may very well be queer, he may not be. Brooks’ larger point speaks to the issue of queer-baiting, which many in the comments of the Instagram video—acting on the assumption that Hall is straight—accused him of doing.
Putting Hall aside, what Brooks described about staying relevant via speculation around one’s sexuality is so common that it was parodied in HBO’s The Other Two: One of the main characters, who is gay, is roped into having an orchestrated, rumored romance with an actor who is starring in a prominent gay role. The actor thinks if he pretends to be gay, it will win him an Oscar.
Why it matters
Queer-baiting, or acting queer to get the attention, views and/or ticket sales of the queer community, is an issue because it results in straight people profiting off of the queer community by giving us a false sense of representation: While some queer men might have felt seen when media of Hall kissing men was put out, if it really was all for “views,” that invalidates those who found meaning in it.