Tonight, thousands of New Yorkers gathered around Greenwich Village’s historic Stonewall Inn to commemorate those 49 lives lost at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The vigil, aimed to bring together “LGBT community leaders and elected officials,” had a strong focus on gun control, islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia. Speakers rolled out an agenda that, for the most part, felt genuine, that is until they announced “special guest” Nick Jonas would deliver some words to the immediately disgruntled crowd.
“Nick Jonas?” Thousands were audibly confused by the not-so-special guest, whose presence felt more like a shameless club appearance during Pride than anything suitable for a melancholic vigil. Does Jonas—a straight, white, masc, cisgender male—really qualify as being a “LGBT community leader?” Absolutely not.
Nick Jonas is speaking at the Stonewall Vigil? Part of being a good ally is knowing when to yield your platform for real LGBTQ people
— Sam Stryker (@sbstryker) June 14, 2016
Though the pop star has garnered criticism in the past for queer-baiting, this move is easily the most blatant, coming just days after he released his new LP Last Year Was Complicated. (Oh really? How complicated…) As someone who doesn’t identify within the LGBTQ spectrum, Jonas’ outsider speech tonight was irrelevant to the pressing issues at hand, and therefore felt like insensitive, indirect album promotion.
You could make the weak argument, here, about the importance of allies like Jonas, but this vigil was in response to a LGBTQ hate crime—the biggest mass shooting in American history—which took place during a latinx night. So having the archetypal all-American Jonas stand before us and express how he’s “humbled” and “grew up on Broadway” was a total insult to the brilliant minds of those we lost—the survivors who have to now live with horrific memories.
Y’all will literally let a straight white man take center stage over the graves of queer latino victims before letting QPOC have the floor.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) June 14, 2016
And at the end of all this, who does the watching world really love more? LGBTQ people or Nick Jonas? As shown, below, Jonas is the inevitable warrior so bravely standing up for the queer community. We’ve stood on our two feet for centuries and will continue to do so without your opportunistic stamp of approval, Jonas. Congrats, I guess, if this gets you a few more song downloads. Watch, below:
— Nick Jonas Fandom (@NickJonasFandom) June 14, 2016