Harry Styles is not the first straight man assumed to be queer. Years before Harry Styles was praised for carrying a rainbow flag around on stage and ignoring questions about his sexuality, Pete Wentz dominated the covers of gay magazines while proclaiming to be straight. So what exactly do Pete Wentz and Harry Styles have to do with how assumed queerness has changed?
In the early 2000s, Pete Wentz not only wore clothes and makeup considered to be feminine but also used his position of power to speak out for the LGBTQ+ community. He was often questioned on his sexuality – always answering straight, while admitting to having fun kissing guys because it never went “below the belt.”
At the time, Pete was not only pushing the envelope on masculinity, but simultaneously creating a place of acceptance for queer and questioning fans in a scene that wasn’t always safe.
Flash forward to 2021 when Harry Styles is being lauded as a queer icon, while doing the bare minimum. Harry Styles has only ever publicly dated women, but is known for wearing traditionally feminine clothes like dresses and pearls, and painting his nails. Many fans have used this display of anti-masculinity and his ambiguous remarks about his sexuality to assume Harry is their bisexual king.
So is Harry Styles really a queer icon? Was Pete Wentz ever one?
In this episode we’re examining assumed queerness and its cultural impact, while diving into the history of Pete Wentz and the rampant homophobia of the early 2000s.
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Past Name 3 Songs episodes you may enjoy include: Challenging Masculinity: A History of Gender Expression in Music & Sexuality and Bi Fetishization in Songwriting with Joseph Dubay
Sources for Pete Wentz To Harry Styles: How Assumed Queerness Has Changed
Fall Out Boy Rewrites the Gender Roles of Rock (NPR, All Things Considered, 2007)
Big Gay Following: Pete Wentz (Advocate, Brandon Voss, 2007)
Fall Out Boy: The Fabulous Life and Secret Torment of America’s Hottest Band (Rolling Stone, Brian Hiatt, 2007)
Pete Wentz: As Gay as He Needs to Be For Gays to Like Him (Gawker, Richard Lawson, 2008)
This Charming Man (Out, Shana Naomi Krochmal, 2008)
How Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance Helped Me as a Gay Teen (Vice, Tom Vellner, 2017)
Fall Out Boy Made Emo And Pop Punk More LGBTQ-Friendly (INTO, Ellen Ricks, 2018)
Is stage-gay queerbaiting? The politics of performative homoeroticism in emo bands (Journal of Popular Music Studies, Judith Fathallah, 2021)
No one should be forced to come out like Rita Ora was, especially when people like Harry Styles get to ‘gaybait’ without criticism (The Independent, Yusuf Tamanna, 2018)
Why Are So Many Queer Women Obsessed With Harry Styles? (Buzzfeed, Grace Perry, 2017)
What the Conversation about Harry Styles Reveals about Queerbaiting (Bitch Media, Elly Belle, 2019)
Is our obsession with queering the likes of Harry Styles costing LGBTQI+ artists of colour? (Gal-Dem, Zoya Raza-Sheikh, 2021)
Here’s why you need to stop accusing Harry Styles of queerbaiting (i-D, Otamere Guobadia, 2021)
Harry Styles Says ‘We’re All a Little Bit Gay’ During Sweet Fan Moment at Final Tour Stop: Watch (Billboard, Stephen Daw, 2018)
What is HIV? (hiv.gov)
The History of HIV Treatment: Antiretroviral Therapy and More (WebMD, Stephanie Watson, 2020)
How did Freddie Mercury Die? What to Know About the Queen Singer’s Last Days (Men’s Health, Paul Schrodt, 2019)
How Princess Diana Changed the Way We Think About AIDS (Oprah Daily, Samantha Vincenty, 2020)
Why Certain Women Prefer a Man Who’s More Feminine (Psychology Today, Robert P. Burriss Ph.D, 2017)
The Problem With Queer Thirst For Straight Celebrities (Buzzfeed, Grace Perry, 2019)
Why Queerbaiting Matters More Than Ever (Rolling Stone, Moises Mendez II, 2021)