The term queerbaiting refers to the practice of implying non-heterosexual relationships or attraction (in a TV show, for example) to engage or attract an LGBTQ audience or otherwise generate interest without ever actually depicting such relationships or sexual interactions. For example, a TV show may be accused of queerbaiting when interactions between two same-sex characters are consistently suggestive of sexual attraction or a sexual relationship but the characters never actually enter into such a relationship (including and especially when their sexuality isn’t otherwise discussed or portrayed). The term queerbaiting is used to criticize the practice as an attempt to take advantage of and capitalize on the appearance or implication of LGBTQ+ relationships without actually having real LGBTQ+ representation. In June 2021, the term became a topic in the news when some accused singer Billie Eilish of queerbaiting after she posted photos from the set of the music video for her song “Lost Cause.” The video features Eilish dancing and having fun with other women (in ways that some consider sexually suggestive). Eilish posted the photos with the message “i love girls,” which was interpreted by some as being suggestive of a sexual attraction to women. Others, including some in the LGBTQ+ community, defended Eilish, rejecting the accusation of queerbaiting and further noting that no one should be pressured to reveal or explain their sexuality. Example: The show faced backlash when fans accused it of queerbaiting by implying that the two male leads were a gay couple despite never actually depicting any relationship between them.
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