Internet personality Logan Paul is a head-scratching example of a person in the national spotlight for no apparent reason, except that people like to watch others spout nonsense on their vlogs and who, like some pesky virus, still hangs on to fame and headlines with all the determination of a yipping chihuahua that's decided it just doesn't like you very much.
Paul, 23, made a recent splash when he announced he'd go be "going gay" for a month, which you might recognize as BS because that's not at all how being gay works. A prominent LGBT activist joined Paul on his podcast and schooled him quite nicely.
Josh Seefried is a former Air Force veteran and LGBT rights activist who once served as a co-chairman on the Board of Directors of OutServe-SLDN, an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the U.S. military. Seefried is well known for his work to end the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military members as a result of the then-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which could have seen him dishonorably discharged from active duty and prosecuted.
Earlier this month, he called out Paul for his comment about "going gay," which he'd included as part of a series of challenges that he was going to attempt with his Impaulsive Podcast co-host Mike Mejlak.
Seefried appeared on the podcast to discuss the controversy, which gave him an opportunity to level with Paul directly. Paul, for his part, insisted that he did not mean to make homosexuality a "punchline" and that he is an advocate for the LGBT community.
"So if I want to hook up with dudes for a month in March, I can't do that?" Paul asked.
"Are you making that as a joke, or are you being legitimate? If you want to experiment with men, that's a different thing than saying, 'Hey, I'm gonna go gay for a month,' making a joke," Seefried replied.
You are a person that sets the tone of what is acceptable to make a joke of, and so when youth watch you and say, 'Hey, Logan Paul made this joke' that's what kind of legitimizes bullying in school.
"Going gay is not a choice. That is not what I implied by saying that," Paul retorted. "I think who you are attracted to is innate to who you are, that it's genetic and that's that."
LOGAN PAUL ADDRESSES "GOING GAY" CONTROVERSY WITH JOSH SEEFRIED - IMPAULSIVE EP. 26 www.youtube.com
But Seefried accused Paul of trying to avoid the issue altogether and not take responsibility for his statements.
"One I'm not the media who is trying to put this on you but two, shame on you for trying to deflect your actions," Seefried said at one point.
Addressing Paul's "going gay" declaration directly, Seefried urged Paul to clarify what the "experiment" would consist of and whether he would follow through. Paul did not clarify his intent.
Seefried was a good sport about the whole thing, later thanking Paul for the opportunity to appear on the podcast.
The general response was positive:
But that didn't mean the conversation was immune to criticism.
In an analysis for The Daily Dot, writer Nahlia Bonfiglio said "Paul and his companions... seemed genuinely interested in understanding why their jokes were offensive, even if they weren't interested in taking responsibility for the offense caused," adding:
What Seefried never managed to communicate to the group of men was the insidious nature behind these jokes. By saying that he wanted to "go gay" for a month, Paul was making homosexuality into a punchline. In doing so, not only did he ignore the real struggles gay people endure every day, but he reinforced the idea that homosexuality is abnormal.
Kissing a bunch of guys doesn't make you an ally. Knowing gay people doesn't make you an ally. Had we seen a far more remorseful Logan Paul, I think this podcast would have delivered exactly what the ImPaulsive team was going for. Unfortunately, Paul spent far too much of his time focusing on the hate he received in response to his comments. He pulled up numerous critical tweets and condemned them for the way they approached him.
If he had instead considered the reason so many LGBTQ people don't feel that "being gay is cool," perhaps this discussion could have paved new ground. But instead of delving into the reality of being gay in 2019—a landscape that his words make clear he doesn't understand—he focused on the backlash his words received. Internet hate is absolutely a problem that needs to be tackled, but maybe Paul should do so in a podcast about incivility online, rather than his comments on homosexuality.
We'll see if that happens. Paul is the same person who was savaged for uploading a YouTube video depicting his reaction to discovering the corpse of a recently deceased man in Japan's "suicide forest," after all.