The name on everyone’s list in the aftermath of the MTV Video Music Awards this year is Bad Bunny.
Bad Bunny is the stage name of Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio. He is a Puerto Rican rapper and singer performing Latin trap and reggaeton. During his performance at the VMAs this year he passionately kissed a male backup dancer which set the internet on fire. While his fans have responded positively to the stunt, detractors are quick to label the act as queer-baiting. Well, this gay man wholeheartedly disagrees with that stance and instead sees it as the continuation of Bad Bunny’s long documented history as an ally towards the LGBTQ+ community; an attitude that has been engrained in his work from the beginning.
One would only need take a look at his music videos to know this is true. For his 2019 song “Caro” he enlisted the help of out Latin superstar Ricky Martin to co-write the tune and sing backup vocals. The video features Bad Bunny getting his nails painted while watching a runway show on a little pink tv in a big pink mansion. He is then replaced with a female version of himself portrayed by model Jazmyne Joy who is eventually reunited with Bad Bunny at the end of a video for a make out session signifying Bunny’s self-love and an acknowledgement of and embracing of his own femininity. He followed that up in 2020 by appearing in full drag for his video “Yo Perreo Sola”.
Music video isn’t the only medium Bad Bunny has used to express his allyship. During a 2020 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon he wore a T-shirt paying homage to Alexa Negrón Luciano, a trans woman brutally murdered in Puerto Rico. He’s also publicly criticized fellow reggaeton star Don Omar for homophobic comments. Then, in an interview with the LA Times he made this public declaration about his sexuality: “It does not define me. At the end of the day, I don’t know if in 20 years I will like a man. One never knows in life, but at the moment I am heterosexual, and I like women”; effectively saying that he is open to the possibility of sexual fluidity.
This past Sunday he took things one step further during his performance of “Titi Me Preguntó” live from Yankee Stadium by kissing a male dancer. What makes this so impactful is that Bad Bunny has a lot to lose. He is the biggest star in Latin music right now and it’s no secret that Latinx culture is tainted with longstanding elements of ‘machismo’, or macho attitudes that can prevail in the minds of both males and females who were raised with those sensibilities. As a result of that, Bad Bunny is really risking something by potentially offending his core fanbase to make a statement and that deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
He has consistently used his platform to tear down toxic masculinity by not only supporting LGBTQ+ people, but women. His videos often celebrate women in all shapes and sizes, and he has been very vocal on social media that women should not feel pressured to look and act a certain way for the enjoyment of men.
Bad Bunny puts his money where his mouth is, so to speak. And while ‘the kiss’ was most certainly a stunt it was done so in the service of our community, as opposed to more obvious queer-baiters in the industry that like to make titillating comments on gay sex they’ve never had in order to score free publicity…