What is queerbaiting and why has Calvin Klein been accused of it?

An Instagram-famous model kissing a digital robot might sound like a weird parody of the future, but it’s actually part of Calvin Klein’s recent advertising campaign – and the fashion house has found itself in hot water with accusations of ‘queerbaiting’.

In the new video, Bella Hadid is seen kissing robot Lil Miquela, with the caption: “Is this a dream or real?”

However, the spot has been criticised of queerbaiting.

Pink News describe queerbaiting as: “The practice of faking a same-sex romance or attraction in a bid to attract an LGBT+ fan base”.

In this instance, people think Calvin Klein has chosen two ostensibly heterosexual women to play at queerness in an attempt to ‘bait’ the LGBTQ+ community.

In fact, many think it would have been a much better representation of the LGBTQ+ community to feature a kiss from a couple who are actually queer.

Queerbaiting is increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation – most recently, singer Ariana Grande was accused of queerbaiting with her song Monolopy where she sings: “I like women and men.”

While some people praised Grande for showing that sexuality is fluid, others accused her of fetishising bisexuality. The singer has never confirmed her sexuality officially but did reply to a fan on Twitter saying she hasn’t “labelled” herself and doesn’t feel the need to.

After Calvin Klein found itself at the centre of a queerbaiting debate, the brand issued a statement of response.

It says: “We understand how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queerbaiting. As a company with a long-standing tradition of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community.”

Even though Calvin Klein might have made a misstep with Hadid and Miquela’s kiss, it must be said that the wider campaign represents a broad spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community – other videos feature transgender, non-binary model and actor Indya Moore as well as gay singer Troye Sivan.

- Press Association

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