Shawn Mendes Says It Was “So, So Frustrating” When People Questioned His Sexuality

"You want to say, 'I'm not gay but it'd be fine if I was gay.'"

Shawn Mendes opened up about the public speculation about his sexuality and the toll it’s taken on his mental health. In a recent interview on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Mendes told the actor, “Everyone’s been calling me gay since I was 15 years old.” The 22-year-old is used to the rumors and comments now, but he told Shepard he’s struggled with knowing how to best respond, noting that it’s a “tricky thing” to figure out the right words to say.

You want to say, ‘I’m not gay but it’d be fine if I was gay,’ he explained. ‘But also, there’s nothing wrong with being gay but I’m not.’ You don’t really know how to respond to the situation.

Mendes also explained that hearing all these rumors about his sexuality made him fear for those who were struggling to feel comfortable opening up about their sexual identity.

“It was so, so frustrating for me because there were some people in my life that I was very, very close to…who were gay and in the closet,” he said. “And I felt this real anger for those people.” He explained that he worried the way the media speculated about his sexuality could have a negative impact on others. “There are so many guys who are gay and in the closet and must be hearing shit like that and being like, ‘I’m terrified to come out,'” he said.

Mendes also got candid about why he thinks people have questioned his sexuality so much, attributing it to how he was raised and how he presents himself. “I didn’t grow up wrestling,” he said. “I grew up getting my hair braided on New Year’s Eve. It just completely depends on the way you grew up in your life and your surroundings.”

He explained that he’s struggled to accept some of the less traditionally masculine traits about himself. “I had these problems with the way my voice sounded,” he said. “I’m like, ‘How do I sit?’ I’m always first to cross my legs and sit with a position of this feminine style and I really suffered with that shit.”

Mendes credited his relationship with Camila Cabello for helping him to become more comfortable with the various parts of himself, especially emotional vulnerability.

“I’m in a relationship where my girlfriend is like, ‘We’re going to get in bed and you’re going to put your head on my chest and you’re going to cry into my chest. You’re going to tell me how you feel because if you don’t do that you’re just going to be an asshole for the next week and I’m not going to deal with that shit,'” he admitted.

The “Wonder” singer thinks people are quick to give him a “pass” to be more emotionally vulnerable since he’s an artist, but that not all men are given the same allowance. “Guys need to just be vulnerable. We need to cry. Stop thinking this is being brave and strong and start thinking is the opposite, actually.” He continued, “We’re holding in these emotions and not crying and being assholes. Nothing about that is nice.”

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