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Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, & Noah Beck kissed their male friends & Twitter melted down, come on it's 2024 y'all

Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, & Noah Beck kissed their bros & Twitter melted down, it's 2024 y'all

Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, & Noah Beck kissed their bros & Twitter melted down, it's 2024 y'all
Credit: @daydayred_/IG; @YSLONIKA/X

Hugging your buddy shouldn't lead to homophobic backlash or dating rumors, here's why we need to do better.

dariccott

Coachella weekend was amazing for the Sapphics — but it wasn't exactly a progressive utopia for the boys.

Gather around folks because we need to discuss redefining letting guys be guys. If we're really combating toxic masculinity (as we should), then that means letting men be platonically affectionate with their guy friends. The double standards of what's perceived as platonic and romantic vary in society depending on one's gender, but it really shouldn't. The recent post-Coachella weekend reaction to Jaden Smith and Justin Bieber sharing a friendly peck on the cheek to Noah Beck doing the same with his friend led to vitriolic homophobic comments for the former pals and dating rumors for the latter. While none of the men involved have come out, except as straight, each instance showcased that the toxic view of gay men is still seen as taboo or a salacious gossip topic due to hypersexualizing queer folks broadly. But it shouldn't be that way; guys showing affection can be platonic — and frankly it should be encouraged.

The "Never Say Never" duo, Bieber and Smith, have known each other for over a decade. That length of a friendship inherently leads to being familiar and comfortable with one another. That comfort and care in a friendship can manifest in a number of ways, from a hug to a subtle peck on the cheek. As a society, we need to get past gossip and speculation fueling our reaction to label others before they do so themselves. Therefore it's best to stick to the facts; Bieber has never identified as LGBTQ+ and is married to Hailey Bieber, and while Smith has developed a gender-fluid style over the years and been a queer ally, that doesn't automatically equate to him being anything more than straight.

The video of the two began popping up on blogs, and the comments were as homophobic and hypersexual as you could imagine, even referencing and comparing the peck on the cheek to the sexual assault allegations against Sean "Diddy" Combs. When we as a society lean into the tabloid-style rhetoric that automatically chastises men for showing affection to one another, we reinforce the patriarchy by validating the practices of toxic masculinity.

Then there's Beck, who has long experienced gossip about his sexuality or others hoping for a queer revelation for the slightest chance to shoot their shot. When photos and a short video from the Coachella music festival began to circulate online, showing Beck (with a man rocking some stellar blue nail polish, I might add) wrapped around his neck, folks leaned into the possibilities beyond platonic.

However, not long after, Beck cleared the rumors by posting a selfie on Instagram Stories with a perplexed look and a caption that read: "Y'all don't be hugging ur friends???"

An excellent question, indeed, from Beck because men should not have to be stone-hard not showing affection to each other as the only way to secure their heterosexual status in society. In a short, hug and love your bros, fellas, and let them know you care because the alternative is bottled-up repressed emotions and toxic masculinity that plagues not only the rest of society but cages your entire gender from expression.

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Daric L. Cottingham

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.