Since it aired on 5 November, season 15 episode 18 of horror fantasy series Supernatural has caused quite a stir. Aptly named “Despair”, it’s got fans in tears, and uproar. Is Jensen Ackles homophobic?

Who is Jensen Ackles?

Born 1978, Jensen Ross Ackles is an American actor best known for portraying Dean Winchester in the CW series Supernatural. Other stars on the show include Jared Padalecki, Lisa Berry and Misha Collins. 

Ackles has English, German and Scottish ancestry, but grew up in Texas. He is well loved on Instagram, with over 8 million followers. Oh, and he looks comfortable on a horse.

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So what’s all this about Jensen Ackles being homophobic?

Why are fans asking if he’s homophobic?

This particular fandom flurry has roots in a weekend Supernatural Con that took place in late February 2020 in New Jersey. 

First reported in Daily Dot, the Saturday morning saw several reports emerge of fans alleging that one of the organisers had refused “ship-related” questions because Ackles was “uncomfortable” when faced with the show’s Dean/Castiel “shippers”.

For anyone not familiar with the lexicon of romantic TV fandom, “shipping” refers to the act of wanting or supporting two characters involved in a romantic relationship.

Daily Dot describes Ackles’ character Dean as “dreamy… testosterone candy”. A Tumblr commentator wrote, in a heavily annotated post, that “the fandom has [Dean] pegged as a homosexual, or at least bisexual”.

So, on the one hand, some fans assume he is homosexual. Then, some attendants of the New Jersey convention complained that “questions about the show’s notable homoerotic subtext were disallowed”.

It’s easy to see why some fans might draw certain conclusions about Ackles’ stance on homosexuality.

Earlier speculation about Ackles and homophobia

Speculation that actor Jensen Ackles might be homophobic goes back even further, to a scholarly article published in 2016 by Joseph Brennan, a lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

For the piece, Brennan conducted textual analysis on the show over a period of seven years, from 2007 to 2014. He regards Ackles’ character Dean Winchester “in relation to a certain hegemonic view of masculinity and heterosexuality”. This is at odds, he says, with fans’ “homoerotic readings” of the show.

So, debate around the TV star’s homophobia, or lack of it, was rife long before the New Jersey Con earlier this year.

Is Jensen Ackles homophobic?

Fans have come to his defence. Claims of homophobia have been dismissed on the grounds that his aunt is homosexual – which he apparently doesn’t have a problem with.

Several Twitter users have come to debunk claims that Jensen Ackles is homophobic.

Meanwhile, others expressed their gratitude on Ackles’ behalf.

Quora users, too, have come to his aid. In March, user Jasmine Cook wrote: “I haven’t seen him be anything but supportive to the LGBTQA+ community. I saw him take photos with fans with flags then hug them and kind of give them a “Go you.”. This looked very genuine and actual very heartfelt.”

Another commented,

NOT AT ALL. He is super supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. He didn’t used to like a fictional ship Destiel, that’s where this awful label got wrongfully put on him by some crazy ‘fans’. […] Fact is he has shown a lot of support for the LGBTQ+ community, like when he posted support for Orlando after the Pulse incident. Fact is people who attend conventions are doing ‘coming out’ photo ops with him and gush about how supportive he is. He is an ally. 🙂

Ankit G
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