How Joshua Bassett went from Internet villain to queer hero in a single day


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This profile is part of Queerty’s 2021 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year, in celebration of National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Name: Joshua Bassett, 20

Bio: Actor, singer, and songwriter Joshua Bassett has been a star since his recurring role as a mouthy lacrosse player in the Disney series “Stuck in the Middle.” In 2019, however, America was introduced to its new favorite teen heartthrob in the form of Ricky Bowen, Bassett’s character in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. As Ricky, Bassett flirted with (and dated) Olivia Rodrigo’s Nini, causing sparks to fly between Bassett and Rodrigo IRL. In 2020, he found himself at the center of a huge controversy: who had broken Rodrigo’s heart, the world demanded to know after “Sour” skyrocketed to the top of the charts. All signs pointed to heartthrob Bassett. But he had another confession up his sleeve. 

He could have gone down in history as the world’s most hated dude. It was all set up so perfectly: when Olivia Rodrigo released “Sour,” the world was instantly obsessed with the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star’s tales of heartache and anger. And who but her co-star and ex Joshua Bassett was to blame?

Coming Out: No wonder folks weren’t certain whether the star’s casual coming out, via a video interview wherein Bassett gushed about the singer Harry Styles, was in earnest or part of a gigantic publicity push. Calling the One Direction performer “cute” and “hot,” Bassett bashfully admitted in a video for Clevver News that “​this is also my coming out video, I guess.

Shortly after that, he released a statement via notes app that didn’t clear anything up at all.  “It’s ok to still be figuring out who you are,” he wrote. “Life’s too short to let ignorance and hatred win. i choose love.” 

This left everyone scratching their heads for days. Was Bassett for real? Was it a joke? Was it a way to detract from the “Sour” publicity? 

Chosen Family: But then, sure enough, Bassett embraced his own bisexuality for real, and for all the world to see. In a GQ profile released just at the end of Pride Month, Bassett explained, in true Gen Z fashion, that he was more than any label. “There are plenty of letters in the alphabet…,” he said. “Why bother rushing to a conclusion? Sometimes your letter changes, sometimes you try a different one, other times you realize you’re not what you thought you were, or maybe you always knew. All of these can be true. I’m happy to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community because they embrace all.”

The little boy who grew up running around the house with his sisters in a Snow White dress has always dealt with queer speculation. Now, he’s fully owning his queerness, without feeling the need to label it. And that’s nothing to be sour about. 

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