Billie Eilish Fans Pose the Age-Old Question, Can You Soft Launch Your Coming Out?

Three images, side by side: Billie Eilish performing on stage, a screenshot of Billie's IG with the question Who is Your Celebrity Crush, and a screenshot of Billie's IG showing fruit in response to the question "Fruity?"

Photo of Billie Eilish by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen, fans have been wondering if Billie recently came out as queer on Instagram.

Last weekend, the multi-platinum selling and Grammy-winning pop star Billie Eilish engaged in the oldest of internet celebrity traditions — doing an Instagram Q&A with fans while bored on a Saturday night.

According to Out Magazine, it was during that Q&A when one fan asked Eilish, “Who’s your celeb crush BE HONEST.” Bound by the sound oath of an all caps BE HONEST, Eilish responded with a photo of Do Revenge and Stranger Things star Maya Hawke, a crush shared by many a Gen Z queer, I am sure. Then a second fan asked, “Fruity?” and Eilish shared a close-up of a fruit salad.

Now is this a direct coming out? No, of course not. And I don’t follow Billie Eilish’s career very closely, because every last one of her songs makes me want to cry all of my big Cancer zodiac feelings until I’m in hiccups (I swear there’s a line in her new single off to the Barbie soundtrack that goes, “I’ll never be happy again,” anyway!) — but at least according to Out, she’s seemingly made suggestions at her sexuality before. If nothing else, these most recent image choices would raise an eyebrow of anyone fluent in the language of Extremely Online.

In the days after the Q&A ended, fans been wondering out loud across social media if a fruit salad is really ever just a fruit salad:

Speaking personally for just a second here, I’m a huge fan of the “soft launch.” I get itchy when too many people are up in my business. I’ve joked with far too many friends that when they meet who I’m dating, that’s gonna be because we’re already engaged. Which is probably something for me and my therapist! But still, I think it’s great that celebrities (or any of us, really, because are we not all faced with this in our own little pockets of Instagrams/Twitters/Facebooks/and TikToks) who are forced to spend so much exhausting time being dissected across timelines, instead carve out something that’s just for them.

However, related to this topic of the day — it’s always worth repeating that the internet loves to get queerbaiting wrong. A word that was designed to critique writing choices on television somehow began being used to describe how individual people live their actual lives — and the discourse around that can be stifling. It can force people into coming out before they’re ready, which is what happened with Heartstopper’s Kit Connor, and that’s never OK!

It’s also true that sometimes people demand a dissertation with peer-reviewed scientific evidence to deem a “come out” worthy, especially with certain bisexual celebrities such as Kesha or Cardi B for example, and sometimes a lil rainbow emoji or a fruit collage can get the work done just as well and allow you to go on about your one precious life.

Whichever may be the case here, I hope that if Billie Eilish ate a fruit salad this weekend that she skipped over the cantaloupes because those are the Devil’s fruit. And I hope that if she watches Do Revenge, she follows it up with Heathers which I think we can all agree did the same thing but better. Go ahead and be yourself, kids!

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 698 articles for us.

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