Pete Wentz To Harry Styles: How Assumed Queerness Has Changed

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

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