The Speculation Surrounding Mehdi Edno’s Sexuality Needs To End

After Stefflon Don's comments on Aftersun, we need to talk about this.

mehdi edno love island

by Aaliyah Harry |
Updated on

Last night's episode of Love Island's Aftersun was hit with a wave of controversy after an Mehdi Edno's sexual identity was questioned - and it's important we dissect this.

For context, during the episode, British rapper Stefflon Don [real name Stephanie Allen] made an appearance on the celebrity panel discussing the show. Host Maya Jamaasked the panel to share their thoughts on Mehdi Edno and Whitney Adebayo as a couple. The rapper told the live audience, 'I don’t know if he [Mehdi] even likes females, I’m not going to lie. I’m not sure, you know. Or he likes both [men and women]. He’s giving a bit of both.' The audience instantly gasped in shock. Maya replied, 'Oh no. He can do whatever he likes…'

After Stefflon Don's comments were aired, viewers quickly took to social media to condemn them, pointing out that such judgement surrounding sexuality is not only harmful to Mehdi, but to gender identity and self expression as a whole. One viewer wrote, 'Stefflon Don saying that she thinks Mehdi is bisexual and then saying Whitney needs a "real man" is gross.' Whilst another commented, 'To openly go on live TV during Pride month and speculate about someone's sexual identity is so wrong and nasty.' After her appearance on Aftersun, Stefflon Don is now a breaking search term on Google as is the question 'Is Mehdi on Love Island gay?', according to Google Trends.

First of all, it's important to state: Medhi does not owe us an explanation as to how he labels his sexuality - nor should we be speculating. As far as viewers are aware, Mehdi is coupled up with Whitney and we know he dates women. Mehdi hans't said anything further as to whether he is bisexual or not, and that decision alone is where the conversation should stop. It is no one’s business except for the individual themselves to declare or talk about their sexuality so publicly discussing it is invasive and harmful.

It's even more infuriating that Mehdi doesn't have the option speak for himself. He is currently in the villa with no access to the outside. In a sense, the world is trying to speak on his behalf and create labels for him.

Unfortunately, speculating about people's sexuality seems to be a growing trend amongst celebrity fan culture and it's dangerous. From Harry Stylesto Billie Eilish, we have watched the worlds continued obsession with defining their sexuality. Just because a celebrity or reality star puts themselves in the spotlight, doesn't mean they are obligated to share everything about themselves - regardless of the public's assumed entitlement.

More than that, this judgement about Medhi reinforces the idea that masculinity can only be expressed in one rigid form. Doing so further reinforces an archetype that people have to live a life that limits individual expression. From the moment Mehdi entered the villa some viewers automatically assumed that he was gay because he walked in a 'feminine way.' Throughout his time in the villa many have interpreted his 'sassy' behaviour as a statement of his sexual identity. The assumption is that a man with what we deem ‘feminine traits’ – gentleness, or an ability to talk about your emotions – must be gay because he doesn’t fit in the narrow definition of masculinity. It has been uncomfortable to see so many people attempting to dissect his every move on public platforms daily. Let's be clear: a person's characteristics and behaviours don't immediately equate to their sexual orientation. Being straight doesn’t look one way and being gay doesn’t look one way.

During the winter series, islanderWill Youngwas also the victim of similar speculation. One he left the villa he slammed the gossip as 'outdated.' Will said, 'I was 100 per cent myself in the villa. I’m happy with myself and I’m happy with Jessie [Wynter].' Adding, 'My brother is gay, and so I’m all for it. I don’t think anyone can say that to me in a negative way. As a person, I’m very outgoing and charismatic, and I’m not going to change.' Will's girlfriend Jessie added, 'It’s 2023, and judging people’s sexuality is outdated and needs to get out of the window.'

Speculation also contributes to a culture of erasure. Sexual identity is fluid and can evolve and change over time, but since nothing has come from Mehdi's mouth to suggest otherwise, people should respect this. A reluctance to do so perpetuates the erasure of those who fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, but either haven’t found a label that speaks to them, or who opt not to label themselves at all. Both experiences are valid expressions of sexuality. Reinforcing this culture also contributes to the anxiety a lot of queer people can feel when they fear living in their truth.

The message here is clear: stop overanalysing the behaviour of anyone – yes, even celebrities and reality stars – to determine if they are queer. It is clear how damaging it is to individuals and a community who continue to fight for their rights and the ability to be free everyday.

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