Bibliophile | Popstars struggle with secret love in ‘If This Gets Out’

If This Gets Out
by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

The American boy band Saturday is comprised of four young guys who got together at a music camp when they were sixteen. Best friends backstage, the teenage heartthrobs are now hopping from concert arena to concert arena; European city to European city; hotel to hotel and interview to interview … with every minute of their lives controlled by a management company.

They are “planned, packaged and neatly presented” as a variety of archetypes to fulfil all fantasies and sell their music to their teenage fans. The guys are now turning 18 and for the last two years, haven’t had a say on who they speak to, what they say, or even what they wear anytime a camera is on them – which is almost always.

Jon Braxton, whose father Geoff runs the management company, is marketed as the sexy one who shows off his muscles, even though he is actually the quiet one of the group. Angel Phan is the fun innocent goof, when he is anything but. Zach Knight is the leather-wearing rebel when he is rather sweet and just wants to please everyone. Ruben Montez is gay, but that is certainly not allowed to get out into the public arena with all the teenage girls who want to marry him.

The Young Adult story is narrated alternately by Rubin and Zach who rely on each other for support. As their close friendship evolves into romance during a tour of Europe, they both question whether doing the right thing as team players to support the band is actually costing them too much.

The authors point out that although the characters are fictional, the pressures placed on performers, particularly queer and/or marginised artists within the entertainment industry are real. “Closeting, whether blatant or insidious, is a well-documented occurrence, with multiple celebrities over the years openly discussing the pressures they feel to appear straight in order to preserve their careers.”

If This Gets Out is a story of hope that sees performers pushing back against systems that allow narrow-minded management teams to strip power and agency from individuals working in the entertainment industry.

Lezly Herbert

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