When Christian Wilkins stepped onto the red carpet at the 2022 Logies in a stunning sheer dress, social media exploded – and that’s a huge problem.
This week, Christian Wilkins has been back in the news for calling out online trolls that took issue with him wearing a dress.
Wilkins is a rising star. He hosts, dances, models, and acts, yet the public’s obsession with his sexuality and presenting queerness always seems to eclipse his talents. Instead of talking about his career, the public obsesses over the fact he wears dresses on red carpets.
Wilkins’ work doesn’t generate the headlines, instead, the way he deals with homophobia and misogyny does. The fact he claps back at trolls or calls out publications for them insensitively reporting on him gets more buzz than any of his current work.
Just this week he jokingly wrote on Twitter, “What is happening to the world!!!! masculinity is ending!!! burn everything!!” in response to a troll that acted like it was wrong of him to be wearing a dress.
He starred in a national Bond’s campaign last year, but you’d be more likely to recognize him for famously calling out The Daily Mail after it ran a headline about Wilkins that read, “Dude Looks Like a Lady!”
Wilkins then had to expend his energy and use his time speaking out against it. Ultimately, he called out the headline via Instagram where he said: “It’s completely homophobic and misogynistic statements like these that cause anxiety and fear in many LGBTQI people. Yes, I know I’m in a dress and celebrate my femininity, but come on, ‘Dude looks like a lady!”
It has become typical to see Wilkins name attached to a story about him tackling some form of homophobia. While it’s great his dele such an outspoken activist for his community, it is also incredibly depressing that he spends his life in the public eye, constantly having to handle criticism for being who he is. Why is the fact he prefers dresses over slacks breaking news?
The way Wilkins is treated is a firm reminder of why so many Australian celebrities are reluctant to come out. No wonder Rebel Wilson wasn’t shouting her new same-sex relationship from the rooftops. She likely didn’t want to deal with the onslaught that comes your way when you’re an openly queer person in Australian media. Sure, maybe we hold publications to account but no one can stop online trolls from taking over your Instagram comments or your Twitter feed.
It’s also no surprise that stars like Ian Thorpe and Hugh Sheridan waited years before making public statements about their sexuality. You only have to look at the treatment of Wilkins to realize if you are publicly queer, you will constantly be navigating an onslaught of cruelty. Sure, maybe Wilkins has mastered the art of it, his dele often funny and clever with his responses to hate. But isn’t it sad he has had to learn how to do that so effortlessly?
I can’t help but think, what kind of message does this send to young queer people at home?
It is screaming at them that if they live their lives on their own terms and are open and dress exactly how they want to, they’ll ultimately be ridiculed. Sure, you could argue that Wilkins is famous and rich enough to understand that part of the deal of fame is dealing with unwanted commentary, but the message it sends to our larger society is frightening and frankly threatening.
Perhaps what makes it even more depressing is that it’s currently Pride Month and Wilkins was back in the news cycle just yesterday for calling out trolls. No wonder Australian celebrities are so reluctant to come out, when they do, they will spend the rest of their careers publicly have to field homophobia, frankly Wilkins deserves a whole lot better.