The Queer Geek Adonis

Curator's Note

Critically approaching the queer geek body in media proves provocative through a visual essay. Viewing aesthetic representation is important when approaching a topic from the perspective of niche cultures, such as the queer male community. The queer geek has been reformulated to create a masculine and sexualized representation within the queer male community through the music video by the self-proclaimed “Gay Pimp” and pop superstar Jonny McGovern. I created this visual essay to juxtapose the Sexy Nerd (2011) video with other representations of queer geek bodies beginning in the 1980’s through the contemporary moment. In the video Sexy Nerd, McGovern is making a case for the sexual appeal of queer geek bodies by juxtaposing it in the lyrics against both hyperfeminine and hypermasculine queer bodies and through visuals mainly focuses on hyperfeminine (Club Queen, Twink, Broadway Diva).  Suggesting distinctions between the queer geek body as normative over other possibilities.  This is a shift in discourse, due to media representation of queers and geeks often equated with abnormal hyperfeminine attributes.

In my video, discourse surrounding queer geek bodies begins in the scene of the flamboyant Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds (1984) throwing the phallic javelin. This early representation of the queer geek body displays the feminization of both the queer and the nerd.  While McGovern’s video, demonstrates the objectifying and masculinizing of the queer nerd body.  The queer nerd Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory (2007) defends his inferred asexuality in one clip. As a possible asexual queer representation, Sheldon proves most intriguing. He is portrayed as more effeminate than the other contemporary queer male characters. Perhaps this can be attributed to the asexual not being “real” or “socially acceptable” therefore the feminization of the queer body is being reassigned to the asexual. The fanboy Michael Novontny from Queer as Folk (2005) begins to show how the queer geek body is moving towards the described McGovern standard. Especially in the case in Michael’s more masculine boyfriend Professor Ben Bruckner. Feminine representation does try to retaliate against this new masculine Sexy Nerd depiction. The web series Gay Nerds (2012) demonstrates the traditional more feminine queer geek fighting back against the Tom of Finland hyper-masculinity. Throughout the video the struggle of masculinizing and feminizing the queer geek body can be seen through the representations that both mainstream culture and niche cultures have displayed to queers and geeks alike. 


Great post and visual essay -- very interesting and illustrative to watch alongside your essay. Reading your post, I was wondering how the sexualization of the queer geeky male body might relate to class tensions imbuing hegemonic masculinity (that is, media representations often show the straight male geek as a feminized figure in regards to the physical strength and sexuality, though masculine in relation to mental ability). Do you see this tension playing out in regards to the queer geek body?

Great question! From just thinking about the observation off the top of my head I don;t think intellect is a major focus amongst the representation of the queer male geek body. Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds and Michael from Queer as Folk are not focused on for their intellect. Lamar is more of a geek because of his flamboyance and Michael is seen more as a geek through his interactions with superheroes and comics. The queer geek I find the most intriguing in regards to your observation is Sheldon. Although he is depicted as possibly falling on the asexual spectrum in The Big Bang, he embodies intellect that transcends many of his queer geek counterparts in other media. But I feel like in The Big Bang, his intellect is depicted in a way that makes him pretentious. This frames his intelligence as negative and not positive, where as it is my feeling that the heterosexual geek's intellect is seen more as a commodity amongst the general public (i.e. he helps you with homework).

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