Fans Turn on Queer Disney Star After Baptism at Pro-Conversion Therapy Megachurch

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Ricky Bowen

Credit: Disney

The young actor has made a rather baffling decision.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Credit: Disney

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The Walt Disney Company has always been a pioneer of new forms and formats of entertainment — from Walt Disney himself defining the Disney Princess genre (and the animation industry forever) with Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937), to then-CEO Michael Eisner’s 90s-and-2000s push into the television realm, building on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color-style programming, with the Disney Channel. Over the years, the Disney Channel has grown into a cable television icon in its own right. Properties like Camp Rock, The Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, That’s So Raven!, and beloved animated shows like Gravity Falls and (very unfortunate) The Owl House have all found their home on the Disney Channel.

Although arguably — nothing is as iconic as the “classically early 2000s” High School Musical (HSM) series of Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) — that began the careers of Zac Efron (Troy Bolton) and Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez).

Walt Disney hosting 1960s Wonderful World of Disney on TV
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Now in the age of streaming, Disney+ has co-opted older Disney Channel properties fully into the Gen Z age. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) is one stellar example of this, being the experimental “meta” High School Musical series of all HSM fans’ dreams. The series created by Tim Federle is the launching pad for many a young actor, starring Olivia Rodrigo as Nini Salazar-Roberts, Joshua Bassett as Ricky Bowen, Matt Cornett as E. J. Caswell, Sofia Wylie as Gina Porter, Larry Saperstein as Big Red, Julia Lester as Ashlyn Caswell, Dara Reneé as Kourtney Greene, and Frankie Rodriguez as Carlos Rodriguez.

High School Musical
Credit: Disney

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However, not everything is all sunshine and basketballs for our intrepid cast of Wild Cats. In fact, one lead star is in troubled waters — with his own fans turning on him.

Joshua Bassett is the actor playing the role of adorable East High student, teen comedian Ricky Bowen. Bassett recently came out, identifying as a supporter (and member) of the LGBTQ+ community himself. What’s gotten the internet in a tizzy? His rather shocking decision to get baptized — at a megachurch that frequently touts homophobic views and supports conversion therapy.

Joshua Bassett High School Musical Series
Credit: Disney

Posting to his Twitter, Joshua Bassett shared a clip of his baptism — at aforementioned controversial church, Bethel Church. Immediately, followers began reacting and replying, like @_icarlee__, who attempts to gently break the news to the actor:

hey josh this church promotes conversion therapy and is extremely questionable. happy for you for finding something you believe in but please do more research. your queer fans are counting on you to promote the right ideals here.

Instead, Bassett claims to not have known that Bethel Church partakes in conversion therapy — saying that he had merely “visited” for his baptism:

i visited this church and happened to get baptized here- i was unaware of some of their policies and beliefs, and do not endorse all of them.
my heart is for Christ and Christ alone!

Immediately, fans jumped on his words for promoting “drive by baptism”, as it seemed clear that he did not do any research prior to his baptism — if he truly did not know anything about the church in which he had the ceremony.

Drive by baptism? Lol. If you truly believe in the purpose of being baptized why would you not research the people doing it…

Some reactions were even more direct, like Patrick Dougall‘s straightforward callout:

Joshua Bassett running to a mega church that supports conversion therapy to “get saved” ain’t it. Especially when you’re on a show that features a mostly LGBTQ cast members & storylines. What a betrayal of LGBTQ friends & fans.

Meanwhile, others like @urfavsagbaddiee defended his actions:

i mean if you go to church, what he’s saying happens a lot. people sometimes just happen to visit a church and end up getting baptized there. it’s a megachurch so he should’ve known something but what he explained happens

However, the sentiment remained strong with most: that this was a poor decision made by the actor — with the lack of background check showing a lack of care:

So you just decided to enter a random church and they baptized you? Things don’t work like that. It’s okay if you want your heart to belong to the one you believe but you don’t need a church for that, specially that one that continues to commit crimes against queer people

People are starting to feel disillusioned — and disappointed, like Chris Frint:

And he also came out recently, so this is not a good look at all. Very disappointing to fans. Even if it was a misunderstanding, the damage control just comes off hollow.

Damage control is seemingly all Bassett can do at this point — as instead of deleting his contentious posts, he responds that he “love(s) all”:

to be abundantly clear:

I love ALL! if you are a human being, you have a seat at my table. we are called to love and let God do the rest!

1 John 2:9
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”

Fans then called him out for his overly “safe” answer, such as @violetkyber, who highlighted that it was very important to specifically state that he still believed “queerness was natural”:

This message is appreciated, but still very safe. You, and Christ, may love gay and trans people. But it’s important to state that queerness is natural and not a sin. Can you say that specifically? Because many of your peers cannot.

It seems that young Bassett might have to do some thinking on how best to respond — as it appears that the fans are waiting for his word.

Do you think Joshua Bassett made bad choices? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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