David Beckham is allegedly close to finalizing a lucrative deal—”lucrative” translating to roughly $14 million, which is rough enough—to become the face of Qatar.
Beckham is, of course, the beloved soccer player (or “football,” if you will). He’s got a massive LGBTQ+ following partly because of his attractiveness, partly because he’s married to Victoria “Posh” Beckham, and partly because he was the namesake for a movie that let Keira Knightley serve baby dyke energy.
Qatar is, of course, the country where homosexuality is punishable by three years in prison, flogging, and death. Qatar came second in Forbes’ 2019 list of the most dangerous countries to visit for LGBTQ+ travelers.
These two things would seem to be incompatible… and yet! We should never underestimate the power of an eight-digit payday to ameliorate a trouble conscience.
Under the proposed agreement—which has been public knowledge since The Athletic published the news January 19—Beckham would serve as the ambassador for Qatar in the year leading up to the World Cup being held there. And what does that mean for his reputation? So far, not much. Other than a flurry of tweets and a handful of mostly British publications picking up the news, his gay fans have remained surprisingly silent. Out, Queerty, and Instinct Magazine have not reported on the news, which the Daily Mail published February 7.
But in 2021 we really shouldn’t be surprised at selective outrage. David Beckham ended his career playing for a Qatar team; now he’ll cash a check and flash a smile and assure people it’s a great place to visit, even if you wouldn’t want to live there. Meanwhile, golfer Justin Thomas can refer to himself as a faggot in anger and lose a sponsorship with Ralph Lauren. (Citi remains on board, with the condition that he donate a significant amount of his fee to LGBTQ+ causes.) Alison Roman criticized two women of Asian descent and lost her job at the New York Times; Tina Fey put a character in yellow face in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and didn’t address that when she apologized for the use of “race-changing makeup” on her show 30 Rock. And for some reason, Elisabeth Moss’ Scientology beliefs are treated as a character quirk.
This is the time to point out that the Qatar-Beckham deal isn’t finalized or even official. But this is also the time to point out that we have to stop letting our personal preferences interfere with the bare minimum we can expect from those we support. David Beckham is hot, but he’s not going to bail you out of jail if you get arrested for traveling while gay in Qatar. Even though he’ll have the funds to do it.
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