Queerbaiting is a marketing technique in the entertainment business that involves the director dropping clever indications that a character is queer, in order to attract more queer audience.
However, the “queerbaiter” will not directly prove that the character actually is queer, in fear of alienating other consumers that may not be supportive of LGBTQ.
“Queerbaiting” is often seen in pop culture, particularly in the 2010’s, as the LGBTQ community has received more visibility and acceptance.
Origin of the term
The term is a portmanteau of “queer”, an umbrella term for everyone who are not heterosexual and/or cis-gender, and “bait”, a term that describes techniques used to lure in consumers.
Its exact origin is unknown, however, it appeared around 2010.
Spread of the term
“Queerbaiting” can be seen everywhere; TV, fiction, music, you name it.
Critics claim that the odd relationship between “Sherlock Holmes” and “Watson” in the 2010 TV Series “Sherlock Holmes” can be considered “queerbaiting”.
Other examples are “Okoye” and “Ayo” in “Black Panther”, “Valkyrie” from “Thor: Ragnarok”, and “LeFou” and “Gaston” in the 2017 remake of “Beauty and the Beast”.
“Queerbaiting” can also be seen in music, such as Katy Perry’s extremely popular hit “I Kissed A Girl”.
Although effective for the industry, author Bea Mitchell published an article on Pink News named “Queerbaiting: What is it and why is it a problem?”. Among several arguments, she claims that the characters that are used for “queerbaiting” are always secondary, indicating that they don’t deserve an important part of the film.
They also often end up in heteronormative relationships, proving a lack of LGBTQ representation in entertainment.