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Reneé Rapp’s New Label Is Not “Bi Erasure”

Since the release of her EP in 2022, Reneé Rapp has been a rising star in pop music. Beginning her career onstage as Regina George in “Mean Girls” on Broadway, Rapp appeared to be heading toward a career in primarily acting, soon becoming a regular on Max’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” But Rapp’s timeless pop releases proved to be a winner, and her 2023 debut album, “Snow Angel,” became the biggest female debut of the year.

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As her music shot her to stardom, the movie adaptation of the “Mean Girls” musical knew it had to take advantage, casting her as Regina once again and giving her an original song on the movie’s soundtrack (performed alongside Megan Thee Stallion). While promoting the new movie and song, Rapp’s carefree and no-fucks-given attitude has made her even more popular, sparking many viral jokes and memes about her apparent “lack of media training” (Rapp cleverly responded by captioning an Instagram post with the moniker). 

In recent years, Rapp has been incredibly open about her feelings and personal life. In 2022, Rapp began openly discussing her bisexuality in interviews, and heavily alludes to dating both men and women in her song lyrics.

However, sexuality is an ever-changing thing for many, especially young people. Rapp recently turned 24 this month, but she also updated the label of her sexual orientation, saying she now identifies as lesbian.

While most of her fans were happy for her, a select few just had to get weird about it. Her Wikipedia page kept being updated and reverted by fans arguing about which label was accurate for her. That small subsect of weird fans accused her of “bi erasure” and “leaving her community.”

As a bisexual myself, I will admit to feeling like I lost a comrade. That feeling only lasted about two seconds before I remembered that Reneé Rapp's not being bi does not make me any less bi. She’s still sapphic, and it’s important for sapphics to have that woman-loving kinship, even if only some of those women are also attracted to men. 

If you’re looking for another famous bisexual girl to look up to, you don’t have to look far. Her “Mean Girls” movie costar Auli’i Cravalho, who plays Janis, is also openly bi. Both Madison Beer and Dove Cameron, who make a similar style of music to Rapp, identify as bi. There’s a plethora of bi celebrities to stan or have a parasocial relationship with (I was today years old when I found out Drew Barrymore is bisexual while doing research for this).

So why act this way when Rapp updates her label? Does it really feel that personal? Why must people have this one specific thing in common with her?

For me, I think that initial fleeting (albeit immature) disappointment comes from feeling like I know Rapp, despite us never meeting (and we likely never will) and her having no clue of my existence. It is that parasocial feeling the internet won’t shut up about. But when we live in a world where celebrities are more accessible than ever -- and Rapp certainly isn’t shy about being herself when making public appearances -- it’s inevitable that someone will feel like this about a celebrity. No one is immune.

Even the people who don’t get involved in stan culture feel some type of way about at least one celebrity. On the opposite end, how many people do you know who act like they personally know Amber Heard or Meghan Markle because of their respective smear campaigns? So many people act like they were personally slighted by these women but have no personal evidence of their true character.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent in the never-ending Taylor Swift discourse. The naysayers who criticize her fans for acting like they personally know her almost always solely judge her based on her carbon emissions or the amount of boyfriends she’s had.

All this is to say that when that person for you is Reneé Rapp, and part of the reason you feel like you know her is because a huge part of your personhood -- your romantic and sexual orientation, who you love -- is the same as hers, it might feel like a betrayal when she no longer identifies that way. But a few seconds of critical thinking should dispel those feelings. 

The way Rapp identifies herself may have changed, but Rapp herself certainly has not. She’s an incredibly talented singer, actress, and songwriter with a fun personality. Anyone she’s actually friends with is probably very lucky; she seems like an exciting person to be around. Her actual friends probably didn’t shame her when she started identifying as lesbian (and if they did, Rapp is probably not friends with them anymore if that no-fucks-given attitude is real). Even though you’re not Reneé Rapp’s friend, you shouldn’t shame her either.


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