Why Are You Here?
Social media has seen two straight white men within the same week try and redefine masculinity through makeup and accessories that “real men” aren’t supposed to wear. These men were Noah Beck and Cooper Neidecker, a Tik Tok user with 637.7 thousand followers, who both use queer aesthetics to obtain followers.
A large surface issue of the problem lies in their use of aesthetics that not long ago got queer people, especially black queer people, beaten and/or killed. This has become a trend on Tik Tok for straight men to play in queer culture for likes and views, specifically, straight men who participate in this are queer-baiting (a marketing technique to hint at queer representation without true portrayal).
Noah Beck’s magazine cover is the epitome of queer baiting. A famous Tik Tok user with 25.9 million followers, the magazine cover is supposed to represent canceling toxic masculinity. Beck is known for being apart of a content creator house, the “Sway House”, so it is surprising for Beck to be on the cover but not a queer person, yet dresses in queer aesthetics as a part of their identity and not as a marketing tactic. Despite all of this, Beck himself has many instances of queer baiting along with homophobia.
These instances come from mocking feminine mannerisms (one of the many things queer people are harassed about) and romantic videos with other straight members (queer-baiting), which yields millions of likes.
Not even a day later, I came across a video of Cooper Neidecker, another straight white cisgender male trying to redefine masculinity. Neidecker’s way of redefining masculinity begins and ends at wearing pearls, makeup, and nail polish while pairing it all with mixed outfits that are reminiscent of H&M and Forever 21.
His video where he defends himself when being called out for wearing queer aesthetics went viral. He immediately took to Tik Tok to rage post about the normalization of queer aesthetics and how straight men wearing queer aesthetics will normalize it for queer people.
Queer aesthetics have been increasingly normalized through queer people putting themselves in harmful situations. Queer people began the radicalization of wearing makeup and after repeated violent physical situations, it has become normalized. Now that it is not dangerous to wear queer aesthetics, straight men take the palatable queer aesthetics and use them for gain.
Neidecker is no exception to this in the heat of his rage posting. He talks about his fashion inspiration, Marsha P. Johnson, who is a Black trans woman who laid a lot of the groundwork for Gay rights. Marsha was known for extravagant dresses, various colorful headdresses, vibrant makeup, and was overall a walking princess.
I want to see queer people being praised for doing more than these two white men. As a black queer person on social media, their displays are performative and unsupportive to queer movements.
Perry, Daryl. “Thanks, I Hate It: Noah Beck’s VMAN Cover Did Nothing to End Toxic Masculinity.” The Diamondback, The Diamondback, 10 Mar. 2021, dbknews.com/2021/03/09/instagram-hate-noah-becks-vman-tiktok-lgbtq-sway/.