Bad Bunny Is The Modern Icon The Queer Latino Community Needs And Deserves Right Now. Here’s Why
Bad Bunny has been a champion for the LGBTQ community since he hit the music scene. He is always showing off his gender-bending fashion and take on life. He has become an icon for the Latino LGBTQ community and there is a good reason for it. He called out Don Omar when he made a very inappropriate joke at the expense of the LGBTQ community. He shows gender-bending people that they have the right to exist as they see fit because we are all in this together.
Arguably, Bad Bunny is the strongest ally to the queer community today.
He’s beloved by all of Puerto Rico, reggaeton, and trap music lovers alike. He’s climbed to the top of one of the most machísmo industries to ever exist, and his unique style is on full display. Bad Bunny is influencing your bro-y primos with his fashion and his words and it is kind of brilliant.
Frida Kahlo, meanwhile, didn’t reach acclaim until well after her work was created in 1950s Mexico.
Kahlo is proof that there is no “time” or trend to be ahead of in queer culture. For millennia, we have existed. Kahlo was courageous enough to be freely bisexual and gender fluid. Today, Kahlo is a venerated icon of queerness and bravery. She will always be an icon in the LGBTQ community.
Sylvia Rivera is one of the lesser known pioneers of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that initiated the LGBTQ revolution in America.
Rivera, a Nuyorican through and through, lived in her trans experience and was marginalized from society for it. She’s best known for allegedly being the first person to throw a rock at the police officers seeking to arrest the crowd simply for being at a gay bar. Along with Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera is remembered today as someone who helped start the modern LGBTQ Rights movement and it all started in New York City.
The 1995 installment of Rickie Vasquez in “My So-Called Life” gave us the first gay Latino on screen.
Sure, Rickie was the GBF trope that Netflix is continuing to revel in, but he was the first of our kind, and he was real. His tío was his guardian and tried to beat the gay out of him. Eventually, one of his teachers, who is also gay, takes him in and raises him. This is what our community looks like.
All the while, we were smack in the middle of a 20-year long era of loving Ricky Martin while he was in the closet.
In a 2000 interview, Barbara Walters pressured the Puerto Rican star to disclose his sexuality. His reply, “I don’t think I should have to tell anyone if I am gay or not, or who I’ve slept with or not,” got all our moms in an uproar. It wasn’t until ten years later that he publicly came out in a post on his website.
“I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am,” he wrote. “These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.”
During Martin’s closeted era, we got Oscar Martinez in “The Office.”
Actor Oscar Núñez is a straight Cuban-American actor who didn’t know he was signing up to play a character who would, three seasons later, be outed as gay by his boss, Michael. While its problematic that a straight person played this role, for the 2006-7 season, he was the only LGBT person of color character on a regular series.
In the 2009 season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” character Callie Torres comes out as bisexual.
Played by Mexican-American dreamboat Sara Ramirez, Callie Torres arguably became the first bisexual character to star in a show. She wasn’t the queer BFF. Her story was whole, and included the same conversations many of us have had with our Roman Catholic, homophobic fathers.
Then there’s the murder of Kevin Fret, the first openly gay trapero.
The Puerto Rican trap artist is just one example of the obvious, rampant violence LGBTQ Latinos continue to face. Authorities are in their third month of investigating his death but have stated that Ozuna is not a suspect.
The next day, Bad Bunny and Residente marched all night long to Governor Ricardo Rosselo’s mansion to protest the rising violence on la isla.
In an Instagram live at 2 a.m., the two broadcasted their message: “We’re here to talk to Ricky about crime in Puerto Rico.” They stood outside the mansion all night until the sun came up and the Governor sat down with them. Fret’s death was the 24th homicide on the island in a two-week span.
This wasn’t the last time Bad Bunny stood up for the LGBTQ community.
Whew, this was an incident. Don Omar made a homophobic slur in reference to a child pornography video circulating of Ozuna. The mayor of San Juan and Bad Bunny both chimed in on the issue to broaden minds and hearts–because its 2019 and homophobia is gross.
Here’s how Bad Bunny is pushing back against the homophobia so evident in Latin music.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, queer Latinos are “1.7 times more likely to experience police violence than non-Hispanics … 1.8 times more likely to experience physical violence, 1.5 times more likely to experience discrimination, and 1.5 times more likely to experience hate violence in the workplace.”
In his music video for “Caro,” we see El Conejo Malo getting a smooch from both men and women.
Ultimately, he ends up making out with a gender queer look a like version of himself–as a testament to self-love, perhaps. Bad Bunny has not come out with any label, nor does he have to. He just is, and, in his own words, “solamente soy feliz.”
His letras for “Otra Noche en Miami” explicitly call out hypermasculine sexual fantasies.
He sings about how his rise to fame garnered all the things traperos promise–orgies, threesomes and wealth. Bad Bunny counters that fantasy with his reality, “Ya me cansan los threesome’ y las orgías / Ya me cansa que mi vida siga vacía.” He sings about craving intimacy the more time he spends with the groupies and industry executives he once yearned to have access to.
Bad Bunny has also used his platform to speak out against domestic violence.
It’s widely known that 1 in 3 Latinas have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. When Bad Bunny initially shared his official video for “Solo de Mi,” he included this caption:
When are we going to prioritize what really matters ??! We always want to blame everyone but the one at fault. IT’S TIME TO TAKE ACTION NOW! I know there will be many opinions, but I just tell them that something starts, and everyone does their part as they think they can. WE DO NOT WANT ONE MORE DEATH! Respect the woman, respect the man, respect the neighbor, respect life! LESS VIOLENCE, MORE PERISH! (AND IF SHE WANTS IT, IF IT DOES NOT LET HER SAVE ONLY AND DO NOT KILL IT) ?
Bad Bunny couldn’t give fewer cacas about toxic masculinity.
He backs up what he says. Back in 2018, Bad Bunny took to Twitter to blast a nail salon in Spain that wouldn’t serve him because he was a man. while most people supported him, a few homophobes started questioning his sexuality.
He’s redefined the meaning of caro with his music video.
Meaning “expensive” in English, Bad Bunny has turned the meaning of the word to something more like ‘rich in self-worth.’ And no matter how much money he has in the bank, he knows that if he stays himself, he’ll forever be caro.
Let us please acknowledge the ’90s vibes of this manicure.
In a way, he’s giving all his millenial queer fans the letras we longed to hear when we were growing up. Instead of hearing about gasolina as a metaphor for semen (I said it), we get to hear about knowing you’re different and loving yourself anyway.
Yes, he gave us “Te Boté” but he also gave us a vulnerable honest take on his love life with “Si Estuviésemos Juntos.”
We are in the era of “Thank You, Next” and “Te Boté” style dismissiveness towards ex loves, no doubt. “Si Estuviésemos Juntos” is Latin trap like we haven’t heard before–his regrets about how he treated someone he learned to love right too late, and how empty his life is without them.
Bad Bunny has given us open, radical honesty–including about his own mental health ups and downs.
While “Estamos Bien” was dedicated to Puerto Ricans’ resiliency. It’s also a subtle ode to a past when things weren’t as hopeful. Pero “Hoy me levanté contento, hoy me levanté feliz.”
In the fight for LGBTQ rights, we have a long way to go, but we thank all the pioneers who have gotten us where we are today.
Today, eyes are on Bad Bunny. We hope the young eyes that are on El Conejo Malo feel inspired to keep pushing back against hate. Love is love, mi gente, and love always wins.