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Troye Sivan interview shows how much we still have to learn about covering LGBTQ celebrities

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A writer for the New Zealand LGBTQIA+ magazine Express recently landed an interview with pop darling Troye Sivan, and things quickly got far too intimate. The first thing Matt Fistonich mentioned was Sivan’s Australian-South African accent, shifting focus to his own Kiwi elocution and how sexy it’s considered. Then things got even more uncomfortable. “I want to get to the hard-hitting questions,” Fistonich said. “I understand your celebrity crush is Shawn Mendes.” He then asked if Sivan’s longterm boyfriend would give him a “hall pass” for the straight singer?

At this point, Sivan seemed done playing along with Fistonich’s flirtatious line of questioning. He acknowledged they’d talked about “hall passes” early in their relationship, but said meeting people IRL can quickly extinguish a fantasy crush. “So when you met Shawn Mendes, nothing got too steamy?” Fistonich asked. “No, no, not at all!” Sivan responded, and went on to talk about his three-and-a-half year-long partnership and the dog they share.

On one hand, Fistonich is clearly trying to keep his rapport with the star as light and bubbly as possible, understandable for a spread in a lifestyle magazine. But his insistence on twisting the interview towards Sivan’s sexuality, prying for promiscuous details, crossed a line. Instead of focusing on the music, people, and pets that actually matter to the singer, Fistonich perpetuated damaging stereotypes about gay men.

Sivan responded to the whole kerfuffle on Twitter posting, “I thought about asking the interviewer about his absolute fave sex position after that last question, but then i remembered how wildly invasive, strange and inappropriate that would be. Didn’t stop him though!”

Theincident puts into focus just how recently it became acceptable for celebrities to be open about their sexuality at all. A 2018 documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood chronicled the lengths famous queer people used to go to find romance out of the public eye. When Ellen DeGeneres came out on her sitcom in 1997, it was national news. Even in the year 2019, there are news reports that Liam Hemsworth decided to divorce Miley Cyrus because his conservative family couldn’t wrap their heads around her bisexuality.

We’re still a long ways away from where we should be. Just consider the last question Fistonich asked the emerging pop star.

“Top or bottom?” the interview concluded.

“Ooo… definitely passing!” Sivan responded.

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