the ugly a part of the feel-good story.

Certainly one of this week’s viral information tales entails two younger ladies whose names most individuals absolutely have no idea. Mariana Varela and Fabiola Valentin, who in a 2020 magnificence pageant earned the titles of Miss Argentina and Miss Puerto Rico, respectively, introduced in a joint Instagram post that they received married final Friday.

The marriage announcement made it into several main news shops in the U.S. and round the world. “After making it to the pageant prime 10, the 2 magnificence queens appeared to stay shut buddies on social media,” CNN reported on Thursday. “What followers didn’t know is that they have been secretly courting the entire time.”

With out exception, writers spun it as a feel-good story—and, in fact it’s. Weddings are joyful events. Love is gorgeous. Two ladies discovering queer intercourse and romance in a spot the place gender nonconformity goes to die is an indeniable triumph.

However because it unfold, the story additionally began to make me really feel a bit of insane. Nobody appeared to wish to acknowledge the unseemly impulses behind our gawping fascination. Forgive me, for it’s about to get rather less feel-good in right here.

Magnificence pageants are companies, and notably vulgar ones at that. They’ve additionally by no means been as meaningless and irrelevant as they’re now, when any sizzling particular person can turn out to be an Instagram influencer with out setting foot on a on line casino stage. But dozens of media shops are credulously main with these ladies’s titles as in the event that they maintain political workplace or one thing, and as if everyone knows what “Miss Argentina” means. We don’t: To the extent that the titles “Miss Argentina” and “Miss Puerto Rico” imply one thing to you in any respect, you’re in all probability considering of a Miss Universe competitor. To make issues much more silly, the 2 ladies met on the Miss Grand Worldwide competitors, not even one of many “Big Four” pageants.

So let’s lay it on the desk. The one purpose why the Varela-Valentin nuptials are of any curiosity to anybody is that it seems like a shock, and it is just a shock due to a homophobic intuition. We’re evenly bemused after we uncover that conventionally engaging, hyper-feminine ladies are queer, particularly when they’re conventionally engaging and hyper-feminine sufficient to win competitions based mostly completely on these two qualities. These ladies constructed their careers by molding themselves into the perfect feminine type as decided, largely, by male want—and ended up wanting one another.

It shouldn’t be a shock that two sizzling individuals in the identical business discovered that they had loads in frequent and fell in love. However due to our stereotypes about what queer ladies seem like, it’s.

We additionally don’t anticipate queer ladies to embrace the physique fascism of the pageant circuit as eagerly as sure segments of homosexual male tradition embrace gymnasium habit, youth worship, and performance-enhancing medicine. That presumption has a bit of extra meat behind it, and it’s the much more attention-grabbing a part of this viral information merchandise, in my view. Lesbians have been on the forefront of actions for fats positivity and towards the notion {that a} lady’s worth will be measured by her aesthetic attraction. Now we select to have a good time the story of two queer ladies who’ve, as an alternative, tied their fortunes to an establishment that enthusiastically reproduces that actual mannequin of one-dimensional feminine value.

Therein lies one other aspect of the viral titillation this story has impressed. Just like the Bachelor contestants in Australia and Vietnam who allegedly fell in love with each other as an alternative of the boys on the heart of the present, the Varela-Valentin story has traveled on the sense (unacknowledged, once more, by journalists) that these two ladies have been heretofore sexually accessible to males, as demonstrated by their participation in sexist magnificence contests, and have now turned their again on that sexual market in a stunning and vaguely duplicitous means. (There was some absurd social media chatter to this impact.) A number of information shops known as their marriage a “twist.”

What’s the twist, right here? Is the twist that they have been assumed to be straight, and aren’t? That they have been opponents in a contest and at the moment are … companions in life? That they have been doing an important job of being closeted, and have now come out? The putatively joyful revelation that they have been lovers all alongside, whilst they pretended to be gal buddies of their Instagram posts for 2 years, doesn’t heat my coronary heart. I discover it terribly unhappy.

The prospect of magnificence competitions changing into hotbeds of lesbian lovemaking—and the media wanting on hungrily because of this, being pressured to fake that the love lives of opponents in a second-rate pageant franchise are in some way newsworthy—strikes me as the tip of one thing. Is it the nail within the coffin of heterosexuality, whose next-to-last bastion of unapologetic reverence is lastly going homosexual? Or ought to it mark a flip towards homo-pessimism, as queer ladies start overtly occupying ever extra excessive positions within the infrastructure of gender conformity and institutionalized expressions of straight male want? I’ll go away it to the judges of the swimsuit portion to determine.

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