It takes lots of courage and guts for celebrities to declare their sexuality to the world, in particular one’s attraction to someone of the same-sex or both sexes. It is questionable however whether this is a worthy news story that is worth reporting on national news sites and fan sites.
Firstly, lets go back to December 2013 when Olympic diver and bronze medallist Tom Daley announced his love and affection to men. He published a video in which he describes his feelings, which took to the hearts of many watching it. It was also reported on the prime-time news slot at 6pm on BBC news at the time stating he has fallen in love with a man. I was quite staggered at the time to think that a celebrity’s sexuality could reach the heights of national news. But I guess it was at a time post-2012 Olympics were Daley achieved his Bronze medal and he was coined a national hero. But more importantly, the news does help people of society who share Daley’s feelings (or are struggling to define themselves sexually) as a role model, as someone to look up to and make others think “Well, if Daley can do that, so can I”.
More recently, Swedish singer and fashion blogger Viktor Frisk, of who many Eurovision and Melodifestivalen fans will know as one half of the duo Samir och Viktor who performed songs such as ‘Groupie’ and ‘Bada Nakna’ (Get naked) at the competition stated on his Instagram story how he was sexually interested in both boys and girls. One Eurovision fan website announced this news to its followers; the response to which garnered mixed reviews with people wondering ‘what was the point?’ and ‘can it be considered news at all?’.
However in both of these cases we can attribute the theory of parasociality. It considers how fans and individuals construct one-sided images with celebrities, or a particular image. Therefore, media reporting on sexuality adds another layer to this process as fans and individuals seek belonging and recognition within online social spaces. In short, fan sites attempt to maintain their relationships with fans by reporting on the Viktor Frisk case study, for example. As fan studies academic Cornell Sandvoss identified, experiences and activities of fandom are an extension of the self. Therefore, in Eurovision fandom, sexuality and fan identity can be experienced relationally.
Fundamentally, the reporting of celebrity sexuality (and even revelations of our own sexuality) remind us that we still live in dominant heterosexual space. However, dominant heteronormativity can be challenged through these activities as well as through simulacra and representation.