Celebrities Pop Culture

Are your favorite celebrities breaking gender norms, or just queerbaiting?

As gender roles blur, and sexuality being fluid, there have been allegations around some artists queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting can be defined as the practice of implying non-heterosexual relationships or attraction, to engage or lure in an LGBTQ+ audience without ever explicitly showing such relationships or sexual interactions. The term queerbaiting is used to critique the practice of queerbaiting as an attempt to capitalize on and take advantage of the appearance of LGBTQ+ relationships when there is no actual real LGBTQ+ representation.

Queerbaiting can be seen in TV shows where interactions between two same-sex characters are suggestive of sexual attraction or relationship, but the characters are never in such a relationship. This is especially so when their sexuality is not depicted or mentioned. For instance, Tegan and Michaela, in the TV series How To Get Away With Murder. Yes, Tegan is a mentor to Michaela, but why do we get a closeup when Michaela expresses a devasted face when Tegan chooses to spend time with Annalise. It is subtleties like these that insinuates that there is more to the relationship of the two characters.

[Image description: Tegan and Michaela holding hands] Via ABC
[Image description: Tegan and Michaela holding hands] Via ABC
While the Oxford English Dictionary recently recognized the term in March 2021, it has been used in the cultural lexicon for decades. The use of the term queerbaiting dates to the early 1950s, where it was first referred to as the encouragement of anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred. However, since the 2010s, the use and meaning of the term have changed and, is used in reference to opportunistic acts that aim to appeal to LGBTQIA+ audiences. Although the word “queer” has a history of being used as a slur, it is now used in its reclaimed sense, in the context of LGBTQ+ identities. The word queer is used to describe and refer to things involving people whose gender identity or sexual orientation falls outside the heterosexual mainstream.

In June and towards the month of July 2021, accusations of queerbating surfaced in our pop-cultural discourse at many celebrities, such as Madonna, Billie Eilish and repeat offender Harry Styles. The allegations were that non-queer artists were ‘appropriating’ queer culture and aesthetics in efforts to secure the monetary support and the support of LGBTQ+ fans without having to identify themselves outright openly as queer. This portrayal allows them to brush up alongside the seeming edginess of queer identity, without having to pay the price of openly being themselves in a queerphobic society.

In her music video for the song “Lost Cause”, Billie Eilish is having fun and dancing with other women, in a manner that some see as sexually suggestive. When Eilish shared photos from the video with the message “I love girls”, that was read by some as being indicative of a sexual attraction towards women. Critics, including those of the LGBTQ+ community, defended Eilish and rejected the accusation of queerbaiting and, emphasized that no one should be pressured in having to disclose or clarify their sexuality.


The central principle of the queerbaiting critique is targeted at celebrities who are often on the fence about announcing their sexuality. Comments that have brought on widespread criticisms of queerbaiting range from Harry Styles who draws on a feminine and playful ambiguous display of himself to, the comparison made between Madonna’s 2003 VMA kiss with Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera and, Rapper Lil Nas X’s performance at the BET Awards in June 2021 where he kissed one of his male back-up dancers. Several cultural moments that were seen as groundbreaking at the time are now being scrutinized, as real queer representation is being shown on screen.

Much of the criticism can be taken from a celebrity’s queerness being valid only if said explicitly in public spaces and interviews, or if represented to expectation. Ambiguity is seen as a wrongful act. In Harry Style’s case, this displayed itself as frustration that he portrays himself to be bisexual and continues to be winked at rather than explicitly proving or declaring that he does have sexual relations with other men. In as much as it may be seen as queerbaiting, we cannot accuse him of it without specifying that he is in fact not queer. Our assumptions about his relationship with queerness are only just a leap in the dark.

It can be said that the argument around queerbaiting, recognizes a material injustice and that many queer people are in a fight for their lives and livelihoods. While the sour double standard of praise is given to stars such as Styles, those who originate this aesthetic are faced with daily violence and exclusion. However, forcing one to out themselves as queer can also be seen as violent as it takes away the choice to be candid about their sexuality from the get-go. So maybe some people would like to have their queer cake and eat it too!

Not allowing others to self-determine their sexuality and even doing so vaguely falsely assumes that the queer identity or is rigid, contained and dictated when it is not.

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Feel-Good The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love

I keep forgetting that my boyfriend exists and it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friends Omid and Malu. We were eating dinner, and mid-mouthful of lasagne I realized that I had completely forgotten that my boyfriend existed for a moment. I just hadn’t been thinking about him. Bemused, I said it out loud. They both laughed it off and we all kept eating. Then around half an hour later, I noticed it happen again. This time, Omid called me out on it and said “you realize it’s normal not to think about him 24/7 right?” Wrong. The concept was completely new to me.

You know how you have a little voice in your head? One that narrates your life and talks you through your decisions and feelings? Well, during my last relationship, my ex’s influence was so pervasive in my life that I developed a second little voice, and that voice was his. So, quite literally, he was always on my mind.

Granted, it wasn’t until the next day that the thought of this had me spiraling. I was shocked. I was sad. I was angry. My entire body felt nauseous. I’d already acknowledged the emotional abuse; I’m still working through some of it. Yet, I hadn’t really understood the gravity of it. He had a say in everything, whether it was about how long I stayed out with friends, how many times a week I went to my dance classes, or what I wore.

He was smart about it though, and never forbade me from doing anything. Instead, he withheld affection, made me feel guilty for not taking his “perspective” into account, and threatened to end the relationship. So I did what I had to do to feel loved, and it was always my choice because I’d internalized his overly critical, possessive, insecure voice.

Everything (and I mean everything) that I thought went through a mental checkpoint: What will he think? How will he react? How can I include him? How will this affect him? If you want an example to demonstrate the extent of it, I even asked him how he would feel if I decided to go vegan. 

It was exhausting, and I do remember feeling unsettled at the time. But whenever I expressed my concerns about our lives being too intertwined or feeling like I had to base my every move around him he would say that relationships are all about compromise. That we were “a team,” and that I was the problem. I was just a selfish, shitty partner. The truth of it was that our relationship dynamic was just toxic.

There is a part of me that feels ashamed while writing this. I never painted myself to be the “type” of person who would get themselves into an abusive relationship, let alone stick it out for three and half years. When I talk about it, people seem to think the same. They say things like “I just can’t imagine you being someone who would be okay with that.” But it wasn’t something I allowed and there isn’t a type of person who attracts or accepts abuse. I realize too that there isn’t really a type of person who abuses people either. We’re all capable of being both. Perhaps it’s up to how we choose to tell the story. 

Once I had a bit of time to sit with all of the above, I messaged my boyfriend who was on a trip with his friends at the time. The conversation went like this:

My message: “So this is a weird thing, but I keep forgetting about you and I realized how good that is the other day. ” Followed by a 1:14 minute voice note of me explaining why.

His response: ” 🙂 I’m glad you feel that way babe xx. I love you and can’t wait to see you when I’m back.”

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I learned about sex through fanfiction, and it’s a bit questionable

I love fanfiction. I think there’s something about it that you can’t find in published novels or tv shows, it’s unique and hard to explain. And while it might sound odd, there’s a lot you can learn from fanfics.

Most people don’t realize what’s out in the vast web to be discovered. For example, you might be scrolling through the works of your new favorite tv show and finally decide to brave the uncharted territories of mature-rated fanfics. You’ll click on one with a funny summary and then fall down the fascinating rabbit hole to continue reading more. And in doing so, you might actually learn about sex through fanfics.

That’s what happened to me anyway. You see, I never really had the opportunity to learn about sex in my family. My culture treats sex as taboo and then expects girls to grow up wanting to have babies and get married into a life of pleasing their husband. And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

I went through the basic sex ed in school, but that didn’t explain a lot. Most of what I remember was the teacher telling us to use birth control if it came down to it, but we should abstain from sex. Senior year Biology was where I learned about my body properly; I was finally told about the many changes that the body goes through due to our hormones. But most importantly, I learned about male anatomy. At no point before this had anyone explained what sex is. I knew it was performed between males and females, but not how. Before that class, I thought it was code for lying in a bed with a member of the opposite sex. 

And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

And while that class helped clear up some of my more significant questions, it wasn’t enough. But I had nowhere to turn to for learning more. My parents weren’t an option, and asking someone seemed awkward. So I turned to the internet. For the first time in nearly four years of exploring fanfiction online, I dove into what I thought was the dark side and looked at the selection of M-rated fics. 

Thinking back on it, they weren’t even particularly spicy fics that I stumbled across. I was jumping back into the PJO (Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan) fandom for like the third time, and I had exhausted my supply of tried and true teen and lower fics. These fanfics primarily served as a way for me to learn specifically about sex and what it was, how it worked, in a setting that wasn’t overly scientific. It was all very vanilla, but that was fine back then.

Then I jumped into some Yu-Gi-Oh fandoms and looked around at the selection there as well. And that was the first time I learned about sex being possible between same-sex couples. Then I switched from my usual fanfic website to a more known and better one, Archive Of Our Own. And this was where things got interesting because there were tags for everything. If I wanted to explore a specific kink, I could check the tag for it and look at all the options in every fandom. 

And I did exactly that; I jumped through different fandoms and checked out every type of M or E rated fic that was unique and then added the new knowledge to the ever-growing list of things I knew about sex. I explored lots of different kinks. When Fifty Shades of Grey was coming out, and everyone was complaining that it didn’t show BSDM accurately, I went to fanfics to learn what they were all talking about. I’ve read many an ABO fic and several femdom stories. And I thought by reading all these fics; I suddenly knew everything there was to know about sex.

Then one day, an online friend talked about a time that she was sexually harassed and how some of these fanfictions we read lead her to think that it was normal. And I started to rethink the fics I was reading. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading wasn’t always safe or consensual. These were works of fiction, and therefore not always meant to be an accurate reflection of reality, but I had spent years normalizing the lack of consent that came with some of these stories. I didn’t even realize until a month ago that it isn’t normal for someone to cry during sex or for most people to get off to that. Many of the kinky fics I read also never really detailed much about the relationship outside of the sex, which made for a very twisted view on things. 

None of this means that I plan to stop reading smut fics. I’ve come to recognize that most of what is in these stories is simple fantasy. I should have never expected it could replace the learning that comes from talking to people about their experiences or having sex myself. 

But if anyone else out there is like me, then now is as good a time as any to look a bit more critically at the fics you read and made the conscious distinction between them and reality. I know it’s awkward to talk to others about sex, and let’s not lie on the internet, it can be dangerous

I don’t claim to know all the answers, and there’s no right way to learn about sex. But at the very least, I think it’s better not to put all the eggs in one basket. When you want to learn about something you should look at several different places. I’ve begun taking a more thorough route to my own learning, one which involved properly researching whatever sexual topic comes to mind in fanfics but outside as well with the help of google or asking some very close friends who I can trust.

This new system has been working so far, and I find myself enjoying some of the conversations I can have with people about these topics as well.

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The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

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Editor's Picks The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love

All the words I wish I could have told you

I got rid of my last photo of you, and I immediately regretted it. I realized that I will never be able to use the photos I took, documenting our love, as a bookmark.

I regretted that on any suspecting afternoon, with the sun gleaming just right twenty years from now, one of those photos will never fall out of an old book in front of my children and they won’t ask about the boy in the picture with curly hair and reddened cheeks.

I regretted it because you are – you were – my first love. And a person only gets one of those in a lifetime.

When I finally left I reacted curt toward you, almost passive or indifferent, because I didn’t want you to know that this was killing me too. Because I wanted to be strong – because the alternative was weak. Because we met un-intentionally and you immediately became forever etched into my soul.

I regretted it because we were damned from the start – because I found happiness in you before I found happiness in myself.

But, the reality is that I didn’t even know that I was looking for someone like you to save me from my misdirection. In fact, all I knew was that I liked the feeling in my stomach when your bright smile landed in my direction. I liked the comfort I felt in your eyes, I liked being desired. And, I liked how the beginning of our love story sprouted as if it were straight out of a Nora Ephron film.

The thing about those movies, however, is that they always ended just before the story actually began and reality set in.

For whatever reason, I thought myself righteous enough to pop our bubble. To be the one who decides that there is something better, grander, more extraordinary beyond the story of us.

So, I let it go. I convinced myself that I needed to get away so that I could start feeling again.

But seared inside my mind, hidden behind my self-proclaimed and glaring passions for the best love story known to man – and my belief that you couldn’t possibly give it to me – are the photos of you that I took in sepia. My hand on your chest. The back of your head against a sunset. Our hands holding one another. A kiss stolen in a gas station parking lot. Your eyes meeting mine with affection from the driver’s seat when we stopped at a red light and I told you to smile.

I regret that I didn’t give us the chance to seize just one more moment together. I regret that I didn’t give us a chance.

I know that you broke my heart in little ways for a long time, but I broke your heart in a big way all at once. One does not cancel out the other.

I loved you unconditionally. You knew it, too, but you lost me. I waited until I had enough and I left.

I realized that it is better to be single and search for myself, then to settle for something I feel insecure in.

Don’t get me wrong though. Our ending wasn’t nearly as tumultuous as I am making it out to be, nor as I would have liked it to be. One second we were, the next we were not. And that was it. We just ended. There was no thunder, no lightening. Nothing.

Even now as I am sorting through what exactly happened, I still can’t help but think that if you loved me the way you said you did you would have treated me the way you said you would.

I wouldn’t have had to beg.

Even when we did eventually try to talk about us, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room with banter or seduction, I’d be speechless. I didn’t know where to start.

But, please don’t mistake my silence for indifference. I do still love you. I always will, except it’s not the same. We spent so much time together and I know that I am saying so little right now to make up for it. I know that this is unbearable, but I promise you that every word I wish to utter to you is in my mind. I just can’t bring myself to speak when you look at me like that. When you draw yourself closer, it is a bribe which I can’t commit to. So please take a step back, I’m so tired of this. I am drained. If I stayed, I would spend a lifetime choking on words I wouldn’t ever dare to say.

I invested in you and I lost myself. I became dependent. And to be honest, this was the last thing I wanted. I spent close to a year relying on someone I didn’t want to rely on – nor could I. I knew it was the end long before you did, and I held on anyways, just in case, because I have a drastic fear of letting go and moving on.

But how can I reconcile breaking your heart and leaving everything we had together in just a few short minutes. You say that I took you by surprise, that you didn’t see it coming – but I don’t know how. I gave you all of the signs. You saw my silent tears. I always knew I wanted more. I was destined for something different. I felt it, deep in my bones, I just never faced it until I was forced to. I was able to ignore my confusion because we laughed with one another. We couldn’t take our hands off one another. We ran home in the pouring rain together, stopping only to kiss.

We experienced the best of one another for a short period of time, and I know that our relationship lasted as long as it was meant to. We loved each other until we couldn’t. We chewed us up and spit us out. We got everything we needed to get out of one another. We fell in and out of love from worlds apart. But I still feel terrible. And I feel like I should be feeling more even though I have been overcome with intense conflicting feelings every day since we said goodbye. Every day for close to a year.

I guess I just want you to know that I didn’t make this decision in haste. I needed to get away in order to understand more of myself.

I regret not thanking you enough for watching me blossom and believing in me so that I could believe in myself. I should have told you just how much you helped me realize the endless bounds of myself, for better or for worse.

I should have thanked you for letting me go, even though it hurt like hell.

I regret doing this to you because you waited for me. Because I gave you dozens of silent chances in my head. Because you would take me back in a second and I am here telling you that I am confused. That I need more time. That is – time to think. Time to learn and explore and dream. But all you hear is that I need to do all of these things away from you, that I need time alone. That I would rather work on building my sense of self alone than by your side.

But I deserve someone who makes me feel alive. Someone who is generous and who makes my heart jump when I tell people that they are mine. And you deserve someone who doesn’t give you an expiration date.

I am scared that maybe I made a mistake, that maybe I am foolish, or maybe that this is all that my love amounts to. I am having trouble accepting the normalcy of the end of us. The lack of explosion.

I am scared that I will forget. I am scared that after a few months everything we had will feel just like a dream. A dream that is open-ended, a dream that will constantly be on repeat in our respective minds until the end of time. Fated to carry each other’s baggage.

I regret that I now have to give you to someone else. That someone else will nuzzle into your chest, and devour your smell. I regret that I gave it all up so easily and have only in hindsight realized the weight of my naivety. Or did I? Because I also remember being so incredibly devastated, and being met with oblivion, with dismissive niceties. I remember my anxieties being belittled or made to feel small. I remember that I didn’t have the means, or the patience, to heal you.

I remember crying on the dance floor a year ago. Turning around so that none of my friends would see. I was staring at your messages. They were curt, broken and hard to make sense of. I remember being confused, I remember when someone told me for the first time that I deserved a love that was better. A love that nurtured. A love I didn’t have to settle for. A love that swept me off my feet.

I regret that we were different together than we were around everyone else. That no one got a real glimpse of us, in love. I regret being so quiet. I regret that I couldn’t love you like you loved me. I regret that you couldn’t love me the way I needed you to. I regret that we’ve run out of things to say.

I regret that our relationship was already broken even when your fingers were strumming through my hair or when we sat across from each other on the floor in a fit of laughter.

I regret knowing it was the end before you did, and holding on anyways just in case. I regret not telling you just how nervous I was and just how serious I was when I said that I thought we lost our spark. Our magic.

I regret it all because I wish that I held on to those pictures for a little while longer. I wish I studied them. Even though I knew the ending wouldn’t change.

Neither of us can fully heal our heartbreak unless we are apart. We have to heal for ourselves, rather than for the possibility that one day down the line we will be together again.

Seeing you that day, when you came by to collect your things, actually helped me realize that I am better off without you. That I am happy now. Really happy. And I no longer doubt myself. I no longer rely on you for happiness. I no longer get angry or sad because you couldn’t make me happy.

In hindsight I had absolutely no idea who I was when I met you. I still really don’t. I’m not even sure that I knew what genuine happiness looked or felt like.

Maybe that’s what ruined us after all. My indifference. My sadness. All of which at the end of the day amounted to nothing.

Soon I will be able to think about you without ripping my heart out.

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Love + Sex Love Advice

Sometimes, it’s better to leave a relationship than pretend it’s fine

From a young age, we are told that marriage is the be-all and end-all. That is the final destination where we will find our happily ever after. Marriage has always been shown as the best thing to happen and more importantly, one marriage forever.

Many of us looked to our parents as the first real look at what a marriage looks like. Some of us saw a couple who loved each other and respected each other. Others saw the complete opposite.

Looking at a marriage that is failing really hard when you’re growing up is tough because you’re taught that marriage is supposed to be filled with love and affection. It’s confusing because you see what it is supposed to be, what the couple pretends it is and then you see the reality.

In Asian cultures, it’s not as common to find divorced parents. That’s not because the Asian community has somehow cracked the secret to a happy and successful marriage; but because the idea of divorce and separation is so unthinkable that it’s better to pretend the problems don’t exist.

It’s a romanticization of ‘we know how to make things work’ and turning your nose up to other cultures where divorce has become less taboo.

But in these pretenses, everyone forgets to look at the children who are being raised in this toxic environment. It is really telling when children say that they wish their parents have split up. Kids see everything, they are there when the doors are closed, and the problems come bubbling to the surface.

They are a part of every argument and fight, and this has long term impacts on their mental health and how they view romantic relationships.

Some parents see the problems in their relationship and endeavor to work on them. Be it through therapy or other means it’s a healthy decision that’s made in the best interest of the people involved.

Staying in a marriage because it’s ‘the right thing to do’ or ‘staying for the kids’ does nothing but teach kids that long-term relationships are filled with arguments and violence.

It’s not easy to leave a relationship. It’s even harder when everyone and their dog is telling you that it’s the wrong decision to leave. That as a woman and a mother you have to stay. I promise you, pretending it’s fine and your marriage is perfect is even worse.

I have seen couples who have been abusive to each other one day professing their love on their anniversary the next and it honestly makes me sick. It pretends to show the world how lucky you are whereas, in reality, it’s completely different.

We need to change the way we see relationships and marriage. It’s not courageous to stay in a relationship that is broken and pretend it’s fine; especially when younger people are involved.

Sometimes, you need to be selfish and put yourself and your happiness and well-being first.

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Celebrities Music Pop Culture

“You’re probably with that blonde girl”: Olivia, Sabrina, and Joshua’s PR Triangle

I’m going to blame society’s collective obsession with Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter on the fact that most of us are stuck in our homes and have nothing else to do or talk about. But surely everyone realizes it’s all a publicity stunt? 

When my friend messaged me asking if I had heard “Drivers License” (still bothers me how it’s missing an apostrophe…) I told her no. Immediately, she sent me the music video and proceeded to text me about the celebrity teen’s heartbreak. If you, by some miracle, don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the 411. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is heartbroken because Joshua Bassett, her HSMTMTS co-star, is now rumored to be with fellow actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter. 

Let’s fast forward to now where Olivia Rodrigo’s song is now one of the biggest hits ever. 

I have nothing against this song. It’s an enjoyable teenage breakup song, but let’s be real here: this song would not be this popular if it weren’t for the drama that surrounded it. I can never prove this, but there are hundreds of good songs about heartbreak that haven’t received even half the attention as “Drivers License”. While Olivia has a following due to High School Musical The Musical The Series, this song has reached way beyond that realm of fans.

Why? This song created a drama beyond some lyrics about random, obscure people.

The original version of the song, that Olivia sang live last year, was meant to have the word “brunette” when singing about her love’s new beau. When the official version was released this month, fans were quick to figure the “blonde” must be Sabrina Carpenter. People are accusing her of ruining Olivia’s relationship with Joshua and are unimpressed with this year’s Forbes’ 30 under 30 winner, Sabrina. 

But let’s all get one thing straight, fame is fickle. Being a successful celebrity means you just need to be talked about. There’s a reason the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” exists. And frankly, all of this was just a publicity stunt. 


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A post shared by Olivia Rodrigo (@olivia.rodrigo)

Thousands of people are still talking about “Drivers License” and Sabrina’s new single “Skin”. People have rallied behind Olivia’s heartbreak, posting memes disappointed with Sabrina’s response. However, Sabrina has recently stated that, while her song may reference Olivia, it is not solely about her. She posted on her Instagram: 


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A post shared by Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter)

Despite the “drama” being due to a boy, few have fully discussed Joshua Bassett amid all the hate towards Sabrina (the usual double standards, because of course the girl gets all the blame). That being said, ironically, Joshua’s new release “Lie Lie Lie” is doing the worst out of all three songs.

That’s right: all three of these people happen to have new songs out all within days of each other. Due to this juicy PR stunt, Joshua’s worst is still better than it would have been without all the gossip. On top of that, Joshua has also just released a second new song today, “Only a Matter of Time“. The song is supposedly about his experience with haters on social media in 2020, but of course, people are still trying to dissect the lyrics for more references to the triangle. 

It’s too soon to know the success of “Only a Matter of Time”, but people were talking about it all over the internet in anticipation and as of right now it has more than 70,000 views on YouTube in less than 20 minutes.

His other song from last week “Lie Lie Lie” made its debut on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart within about a week of its release. There are millions of songs in the world and I doubt this one would have made it on this list at all without the love triangle gossip. I personally would have listened to Sabrina Carpenter’s song since I follow her music, but would it have thrived so much so quickly? Would it have been #6 on the US iTunes, #4 on the US Spotify chart, #33 on the worldwide chart and have received 1,857,698 opening day streams? Probably not. And then we have the song that started it all, Olivia Rodrigo’s first debut single. “Drivers License” has broken records and is currently #1 on Billboard’s Top 100.   

I won’t say the song doesn’t deserve to be on top charts, but her marketing team knew that pushing the narrative of Olivia’s ex and his new girl would be a great way to get the song on everyone’s playlist. Sabrina and Joshua obviously didn’t mind because their songs also benefit from the attention, despite it being pretty negative. 

All of this to say, the internet and fans may just be a little too invested in drama that isn’t as big as we think because this tweet sums up the reality: 

Nearly a year of quarantine has truly done a number on us.

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Love Advice

Stop romanticizing my friendship

Friends to lovers have always been a go-to when it comes to romantic movies. There seems to be something romantic in watching friends who obviously like each other end up together. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t absolutely love this troupe, but it shouldn’t be applied to every situation.

I’m a big supporter of having a mixed friends group. Especially when it comes to relationships, I always end up going to my guy friends for advice. The advice is always useful and they are always up for knocking sense into me when I need it!

I think it also helps me become more grounded; too many people who have only ever been surrounded by one gender struggle to socially interact with the other. Especially when it comes to relationships and marriage, you need to be able to see red flags. I don’t think that’s possible without a mixed friendship group.

What really grinds my gears is when someone completely misreads a friendship and starts to make feelings that aren’t there. One of my closest friends I always refer to as ‘the big brother I never asked for but I’m glad I have’. He has my back, especially when it comes to relationships and advice.

However, thinking of him as anything but platonic makes my stomach turn and makes me feel ill. The justification behind this was that we talk almost every day and send each other memes (ah yes, the love language of 2020).

But there were no ‘feelings’ when it came to my female friends who I treat the exact same way.

Of course, some romantic relationships do evolve from friendships, but we shouldn’t expect every relationship to do so. People shouldn’t have to second guess going out for drinks with a friend because a third person who has no part in this relationship thinks they should date.

Not to mention when a person in the friendship is in a relationship it’s disrespectful to everyone involved. It makes the whole thing toxic when there is no need for it to be.

The double standards are startling. Why is it that when it comes to boys the narrative suddenly shifts and you have to be in love with them? It makes the friendship weird and suddenly you’re questioning every message you send. If someone doesn’t ask your opinion on a relationship keep your opinions to yourself.

Platonic relationships are some of the most rewarding relationships you can have. When I think of the most important times in my life, my friends have always been constant. Sibling-type friendships are definitely one of the best because they feel like you’ve known a person forever no matter how long it has been.

When other people try and put a label on an innocent friendship it can get really awkward but you have to be honest with yourself. When a third person is involved (as in if one of you is in a relationship) it’s important that you respect their boundaries because guaranteed this is not fun for them!

For me, it was a boundary issue, I felt that so many people I called my friends were violating this boundary, and made me feel uncomfortable about an innocent friendship so in a lot of cases I drifted away from them. The friends I have now don’t bat an eyelid when I mention another friend regardless of gender and it’s such nice relief!

It’s so heteronormative to think that every girl is in love with her male friends and vice versa.

Building healthy relationships with people should be seen as normal regardless of gender.

If you can’t see that, maybe you need to stop looking at things from a romance novel and come into the real world.

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The Pandemic Love + Sex Love

My long-distance relationship with my husband strengthened our marriage

As I was at the airport preparing to leave for my flight back to the UK, I was trying hard not to look at anyone – a sympathetic smile or a simple ‘are you okay?’ from my family would be enough to set me off. I couldn’t even look or speak to my husband in case I couldn’t hold it together. My heart was thudding, palms were sweaty as I was trying to convince myself that my husband and I would be okay. I was trying to keep my mind in control and think rationally.

“I’ll see him again soon, we won’t be apart for long.”

I couldn’t be too sure of that. It was January 2020 and the daily news coverage of Covid-19 was growing rampant by the second. My husband and I were expecting that he’d follow me back to the UK a few months later, but we both knew that was wishful thinking if news of the widespread threat of the deadly virus was true. I was leaving him three weeks after our wedding in Bangladesh and I didn’t know when I’d see him again.

As soon as this dawned on me, I couldn’t hold it any longer. My body was trembling as my emotions took over me. My husband opened up his arms to me, letting me cry uncontrollably into his chest. Our family members gave us the space to have this private moment at the airport between husband and wife.

As I left him for the immigration checks, I kept turning around to see him. My husband was still there. He would only leave the airport until he couldn’t see me.

As I took my seat on the plane, I wept on my mum’s shoulder while she stroked my hair and consoled me. All I could do was ask myself questions I couldn’t answer as my mum held me: When will we be together again? How will I cope? Will this get any easier?

For the first few days after I arrived home, I felt tired and withdrawn. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and sleep. My parents felt helpless, they knew anything they’d try to say or do wouldn’t release me from my melancholic state.

At that time, I would receive so-called ‘advice’ from family members and friends that just rubbed me up the wrong way. They’d attempt to reassure me with inane comments.

“Everything will be okay!”

“He’ll be here before you know it.”

“Remember the good times you had together.”

And finally, “At least you got married before the pandemic!”

That was a level of toxic positivity I couldn’t handle. They wanted to minimize my emotional struggle so it doesn’t burden them, but I didn’t want to hear any of it. All I wanted to say was “let me wallow, I don’t need your so-called help.” It may have been their way of trying to make me feel better, but it was just lost on me. Others would listen, allowing me to open up and say how I was feeling – that was what I needed at that time.

The only way I could pick myself up was to return to a sense of normality and routine. Going to work, attending my gym classes, doing my daily errands enabled me to get better, and focus on other things.

Eventually, I had to accept that my husband and I would be in a long-distance relationship, a term I’d heard before but never thought I’d experience. It wasn’t easy to accept this – we were married, but we didn’t feel like our marriage had begun. We were trapped in the middle with very little certainty on where we were heading.

The biggest factor that helped us get through this phase was talking and seeing each other every night on video. Communication – whether that was through video calls, texts, or audio messages – was vital for us to handle our long-distance relationship. We showed love, affection, and support for each other despite us being physically apart.

Even talking about ordinary things such as what happened at work, what we had to eat, what we watched on TV gave us an insight into each other’s day to day lives, which was something we valued. Our nightly chats helped us to heal and allowed us to connect on a deeper level. Communication was a critical element in not just the success of our long-distance relationship, but for the betterment of our marriage.

I had my ups and downs during our time apart. Loneliness would consume me. Then there was the added worry I had for his safety and well-being as the scale of Covid-19 was getting worse by the day. The loneliness combined with the anxiety I had for his health caused me immense emotional strain.

Rather than bottling these feelings away, I spoke honestly to my husband about how I was feeling. It didn’t matter how early or how late it was, he was only a call away if I was struggling and I needed to hear his voice.

After eight months apart, we’re finally together. We’ve been back together for two months and we still can’t believe it. As I write this, we’re both sitting together in the dining room whilst he’s working and I’m typing away – we both feel happy and content.

Our long-distance relationship set the foundation of our marriage, which is built on communication and honesty. Our relationship feels stronger than ever – we talk, share, and don’t hold anything back from each other. Our temporary physical separation was hard for us, but it’s strengthened us for the better.

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The Pandemic Feel-Good Love + Sex Love Music

I’ve loved music more than any of my exes

Let me set the scene: I’m 16, realizing that I think very differently than my family. The typical Asian narrative of the duties of the daughters doesn’t sit right in my mouth but I’m not old enough or independent enough to question it.

But the thing is, is I’m not subtle, it’s not in my nature, which leads to arguments, screaming, and words that have remained etched in me for the past six years.

Alone is a five-letter word that creates an expanse of nothingness and that is all I had.

My friends, albeit were great but they were white, they couldn’t understand it on the level that I needed them to. I did have staff members that I could trust but they couldn’t be with me all of the time.

One of my friends introduced me to All Time Low and from then on, the expanse began to shrink. The loud riffs and lyrics made me feel full, I didn’t feel alone anymore it felt that someone was there and listening.

So, I became obsessed with music, there wasn’t a day I wasn’t wearing headphones, or humming to myself. It gave me an out that allowed me, for the first time, to just stop and think. The louder the music, the more I could think.

Growing up in Manchester, I always knew the importance of music. I spent most of my time in record shops. This meant that I was introduced to all types of music from people who took the scared Muslim girl in.

Even now, when I came back home after University, my music family was still there. Music has always given me the comfort I struggled to find in my relationships.

So, when I started dating, that’s what I was looking for. That level of peace and belonging I’d only ever really found in my headphones or at a very sweaty gig!

I haven’t found it. I’ve been with people I’ve deeply cared about but I’ve never felt like I completely belonged. There was always something I felt like I had to change about myself; be less of who I am and that isn’t wholly healthy.

That vulnerability, that ‘take me as I am’ is difficult to find, but I’d always found it in music.

Honestly, I struggle to put into words why I love music, even thinking about it puts tears in my eyes. Pure and simple, it saved a very lost person and gave her the strength to take on the world.

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Culture Family Life

Why living with your parents is not something to be ashamed of

Aishwarya Rai (who was then residing with her folks) was once asked by David Letterman if it was common in India for older children to live with their parents. She was being interviewed in his show and the snippy comment wasn’t lost on her. She simply fired back saying, “It’s fine to live with your parents because it is also common in India that we don’t have to take an appointment with our parents to meet for dinner.”

It is a Desi tradition, to eventually reside with your parents after you have completed your education and are working. Most Indians don’t even move out while they are pursuing their undergraduate degrees, and some stay with their parents even after the children are married. This might sound strange to anyone from the Western region of the world, but living with your parents is not really that big a deal.

Sociologically speaking, kinship and family were constructs created to enable companionship among men and women. Nuclear families evolved with the passage of time, due to industrialization and the capitalization of goods and services, and extended families have dissipated with time. Now, joint families are hugely common in the Indian subcontinent. There are sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts all living and cooking under the same roof.

The fact that it is so looked down upon in the United States is very depressing. It almost seems to be more foreign and scary than Kanye West running for the presidency. The fact that Americans disregard and shame anybody who chooses to live with their parents is juvenile. Why are American adults so ashamed to be linked with their families? The fact that they choose not to associate themselves with their parents makes them rather conceited. The overbearing nature to prove yourself to be independent beings is honestly tiring. You can be independent without having to live alone. I do it, everyone in my locality does it as well.

Family is a basic building block of Indian culture. Now, as an Indian it is easy to notice the similarities and the differences between the east and west, predominantly noticing the varied range of cereals available in the West and how people are judged if they live with their parents.

I live in a 3 bedroom apartment with four people and I don’t have to pay rent. That’s how it works. You stay with your family and you are loved and surrounded by people who unconditionally love you. You don’t need to be estranged in order to feel like an adult; coursing through the difficulties of life is being “adult” enough. Having homely comfort would only be a step in helping you deal with it properly.

I respect everybody’s choices in how they wish to live their lives. However, judging someone just because they live with two people who brought them up is unnecessary. Whoever served as your guardian, it is your duty to help them anyway whatsoever. They have brought you up, clothed you, sheltered you, and gave you a happy (albeit emotionally scarring for some) life. You owe it to them to be considerate towards them as they are growing older and do what they have done for you.

You cannot measure your success and worth just by whether you have moved out or not. This millennial tradition needs to be booed away because living with your parents doesn’t make you pathetic or a loser. Rather, it makes you kind and considerate and saves you a lot of money (because I know you are broke). It has nothing to do with pride, they have taken care of you when you have had diarrhea. Don;t forget that.

TV Shows Pop Culture

“Love Island” makes history by crowning first Black couple winners, Justine Ndiba and Caleb Corprew

On Wednesday September 30, Caleb Corprew and Justine Ndiba made history as the first Black couple to win Love Island in the franchise’s history. The pair, known to the internet as “Jaleb,” took America by storm for being an example of wholesome, unapologetic Black love without the struggle narrative that is often attached to it.

Throughout the reality show’s history across different continents/countries (United Kingdom, Australia, United States, etc.) Black women on Love Island tend to share a universal struggle finding potential suitors in the villa.

Firstly, there is often only one Black girl in the initial line up, and she is almost always chosen last. Secondly, Black women on the show like Samira Mighty from Love Island UK season 4, Yewande Biala from Love Island UK season 5, and Justine from Love Island US season 2 have literally cried as they watch their non-black counterparts adjust to their dating environment with ease, wondering why they can’t do the same. 

In one episode, Samira even highlighted the elephant in the room saying, “Unfortunately, not many guys in this villa go for me.” With such an obvious pattern of misogynoir, the audience has begun to pick up the sentiment that watching Black women try and fail to find love on this show is an inherent part of the Love Island viewing experience.

Correspondingly, the audience watched as Justine initially struggled finding a connection. This can be attributed to her being the only dark-skinned woman in the initial line up of contestants. For example, on her first day Justine showed her boldness and stepped forward first for a guy (Jeremiah White) to signal her attraction. He instead opted to choose another girl, who didn’t step forward for him but better fit within the confines of “desirable” western beauty standards. Jeremiah and Justine were eventually made to couple up anyway by chance of last pick. However, he emphasized many times in the beginning he only saw her as a friend. 

Eventually and luckily, Justine’s story arc defied the Love Island curse for Black women and she grew a connection with a guy who admired not only her strength but vulnerability. Once coupled up, he sought to vehemently prove to her how she deserved to be treated from the start. Enter: Caleb Corprew.

Upon entering the villa, Caleb was the first guy to really show romantic interest in Justine; though, the development of their relationship initially took some time. When he and Justine finally coupled up, the audience sat on the edge of our seats every episode, waiting for what we thought was the inevitable heartbreak Justine, like other Black girls on Love Island, would endure. However, episode after episode the pair defied audience expectations and projections. Together they proved that Black women could indeed find genuine love on this show. Due to the unprecedented nature of the pair’s representation of a healthy relationship, specifically for a Black couple, the two quickly became fan favorites of the season.

Justine and Caleb developed their own fan base on social media because the public noted the two’s potential to make Love Island history as the first Black couple to ever win a season. In addition, fans thoroughly enjoyed seeing a Black woman on the show prosper for once. Fortunately, the power of the fandom prevailed and Justine and Caleb were crowned the US Love Island winners of 2020.

Their win is special for many reasons, but this win especially meant a lot to Black women. Amid the resurgence of Black Lives Matter and the heartache that has come from the cases of Breonna Taylor, Megan Thee Stallion, Oluwatoyin Salau and so many other Black women brutalized by misogynoir, it was something truly special to be able to unplug and watch a Black woman be loved, loudly, and in real time on national television. 

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I’m a Black woman and Love Island fan who always holds my breath but roots for every Black female contestant to thrive on the show despite my apprehension. Most times, I’m proven right to be apprehensive; however, being able to now celebrate a Black woman’s win within this franchise means so much to me. Not only was I that insecure young Black girl who always felt like a last pick (if I was a pick at all), but being an adult Black woman watching society continuously brutalize or mock our pain hits differently.

For us Black women, Justine represents the silver lining amongst all this grief. If nothing else comes from this historic win, hopefully Black women can look at Justine’s Love Island journey and be inspired to persevere through hardship, bet on ourselves when no one else will, and begin to love ourselves the way we have always deserved.

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