15 Boys We Have Loved (When They Looked Like Lesbians)

Today on Salon.com, Mary Elizabeth Williams’ Why Girls Like Gay Heartthrobs addresses Jonathan Knight’s “coming out” as it relates to “why teenage girls fall for boy-band dudes who turn out to be homos”:

When those first stirrings of attraction kick in, young girls are generally not going to go for a boy who looks like he really, really wants to touch them in the bathing suit area. They’re going to be for the boy who is handsome, sweet, and eminently safe.”

“Gay or straight,” Williams says, tweens are drawn to boys like Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers, N’Sync, Ricky Martin and The Monkees, boys with “an aura of youthful safety that makes these guys so huge, that makes it okay for a girl to scream her desire without ever feeling like she’ll be challenged to prove it in the back of the tour bus.”

But what throbs the heart of a budding young lesbian? Clea Duvall, Tina Fey and Shane, apparently, but many homogays report a misleading amount of boycrushes from their tweenhood with a passion often reflected in “wall posters” or “locker pictures” or “subscriptions to Tiger Beat.” See, people, when those first stirrings of attraction kick in, young lesbians are generally not going to go for a boy who looks like he really, really, really wants to touch them in the bathing suit area. They’re going to be for the boy who looks like a dyke. [See also: the Justin Bieber phenomenon.] Some women report a sort of “generational” bisexuality where boys seemed fun to date until they became men and then you just had women on your mind from there forward.

As per ushe with our Top Tens, if you disagree with this list, you should totally say something really mean about it, like try to make me sound like I just stole something from you, maybe even your soul. Caps, exclamation points, the full anger of your day: I want it. Give it to me. I can take it, ’cause I just watched The Sandlot.

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boIs 2 men:

17 boys lesbians liked BEFORE THEY BECAME MEN STRAIGHT GIRLS LIKE

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15. devon sawa

Peak OF LESBIAN APPEAL: little giants (1994)

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14. BOYZ II MEN

Peak of lesbian appeal: cooleyhighharmony (1993)

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13. elijah wood

Peak of lesbian appeal: flipper (1996)


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12. wil whEaton

Peak of lesbian appeal: star trek – the next generation (1987-1994)

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11. Jeremy london & jason london

Peak of lesbian appeal: Party of five (1995) & Man on the moon (1991)

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10. Jared Leto

Peak of lesbian appeal: My So-Called Life (1995)

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9. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Peak of lesbian appeal: wild america (1997)

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8. Will smith

Peak of lesbian appeal: early Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1994)

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7. brad renfro

Peak of lesbian appeal: sleepers (1996)

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6. mario Lopez & mark-paul gosselaar

Peak of lesbian appeal: saved by the bell (1989-1992)

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5. Rider strong

Peak of lesbian appeal: boy meets world (1993)

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4. nick carter

Peak of lesbian appeal: early backstreet boys (1998)

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3. Jonathan brandis

Peak of lesbian appeal: Ladybugs (1992)

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2. johnny depp

Peak of lesbian appeal: CRY-BABY (1990)

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1. Leonardo DiCaprio

peak of lesbian appeal: Romeo & Juliet (1996)

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147 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    *sigh* devon sawa. i had such a huge crush on him and jonathon taylor thomas in middle school. . . lol. my first crush was on Savion Glover, when he was on sesame street. (my big sister had crushes, so i had to too!)

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    jonathan brandis!! anyone else remember the awesomeness of sidekicks?? and wow, mildly depressing that both he and brad renfro died so young.

    i definitely had a subscription to tiger beat and big bop, and my entire room was covered with pics of Leo, JTT and James Marsden (from back when he was on Second Noah!). oh, and jessica biel and neve campbell. i was totally boy-crazy (i thought), but there were just these girls i remember being amazed by… wow, was i young and naive.

    ps i love these nostalgic posts. you can always count on a casper / now and then / little giants reference somewhere. god, what i wouldnt give to teach icebox how to kiss…

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    I have a lot of feelings about this.

    1) I kept scrolling down, wondering “Where is Leo??” And there he was.
    2) Remember the episode of Boy Meets World when Shawn dressed up as a girl (“Veronica”) for an article Cory was writing for the paper? HE WAS HOT.
    3) Was any else confused by their feelings for both Christina Ricci and Devon Sawa in Now and Then? No? Just me?

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    This post makes so much sense!! I lusted after Jonathan Brandis (it was the femme-y hair) like my life was ending. Close second was Leo. Oh, Leo.
    It reminds me of a poster I had with 3 longish haired dudes on it that hung in my bedroom. It came out of a tween magazine and on the other side of the poster were 3 lovely ladies for the boys to hang up. Oh how I admired that side.

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    Andrew Keegan needs to be on this list! There is still a poster with him and his long hair up in my “tween” bedroom at my parent’s house. I was convinced I was marrying him, Devon Sawa or “JTT”

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    I was an early-adopter gay, judging from my crush on Clea for sure. So N’Sync was the “it” boy band when I was a kid. And all my friends LOVED Justin Timberlake, but I didn’t see the appeal…so I told them my favorite was Lance Bass. I lol’ed when he came out.

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    You guys. One day, I was flipping through a magazine, and I was like, “hey, she’s hot.” And then I realized it was Justin Bieber. True story. I felt like the biggest lesbian stereotype in the world.

    Also, you hit the nail on the head with Nick Carter and Leo DiCaprio. I loved them when I was little.

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    My first celebrity crush was Orlando Bloom. But then again, the first time I saw him he had long blonde hair and blue eyes and could’ve passed for a girl from a distance.
    Sometimes I think I misssed a lot of lulz and retrospective embarrassment by not being an adolescent in the 90’s. It’s like getting all the horrible clothing without the hilarious bits.

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    devon sawa captured my heart after casper!|
    not a big fan of leo in romeo and juliet though! by that time claire danes was more interesting.
    basketball diaries tho. lovely. any time I say hi a lot i hear his voice.

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    I never had this, I dunno I actually had crushes on girls when I was younger..I just didnt know it.. I would own like all magazines that certain female celebrities were in.. and never questioned it… >_>

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    Hm. I really didn’t have any crushes on anyone as a teenager, and certainly didn’t have posters of these guys. And no boy bands. Those were for “girls.” Yeah.

    Oh, I did have a crush on Michael Stipe. My mom told me he was gay/old for me. I think this was before he was for-real out. But I mean… yeah. I was confused as to why this would matter, and told her it wasn’t like I wanted to have sex with him, ew, hello. I just thought it was cute when he would wear skirts in shows and had a pretty voice. Uh huh.

    So that explains a lot about her reaction when I came out, which was pretty much the biggest non reaction ever. “Oh, yeah. I know.”

    I don’t know if this says more about me or my mom’s gaydar. Which is, perplexingly, so so much better than mine.

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      shane west was also in ‘once and again’ and i really thought he was hot being all badass with his guitar UNTIL evan rachel wood’s character started having a thing with mischa barton’s character. my life as i knew it changed forever. i couldn’t care less about shane west after that. mischa barton was already lame at acting like she was into girls. i still wanted to have a sleepover with her though.

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    they are cute boys but ive been crushin on girls since i was 3 and only said any thing about boys if the other girls were talking about it in school and i was like yeah i guess to all there crushs

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    RIP Jonathan Brandis. He was dreamy. I had a moderate crush on JTT, too. I was probably the only girl who didn’t have a thing for Leonardo DiCaprio. Dude just didn’t do anything for me.

    Speaking of teenybopper crushes who looked like lesbians, where’s NOAH HATHAWAY (aka Atreyu from The Neverending Story)?! There was something feminine and delicate about him. His popularity peaked in the early-mid ’80s, but still, come on!

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3153495808/nm0000441

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    1.) I feel like there’s something to be said re: girls who liked boys until they became men, after which point they wanted girls but still had a strange creeper obsession with boys who had yet to become men. (ex. I’ll click any news item or blog post that has to do with Justin Bieber or a male who looks like he falls short of the legal voting age, but would still prefer a roll in the hay with a girl any day of the week, including Sunday.)

    Ultimate idol worship film for me was the 1995 classic “Tom and Huck.” JTT, Renfro aaaaaand Rachael Leigh Cook. What dreamboats they were.

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    Wesley Crusher is definitely up there for best star trek halloween options for lesbians. You pretty much only need a kooky ’80s sweater (or next-gen uniform of your own devising, which might be slightly more of a commitment).

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    I totally WAS going to argue with your list UNTIL you busted out with Jason and Jeremy London – whom I had also just randomly thought about not but two days ago.

    THEN, you come forth with Jared Leto, and I thought surely you would not know Jonathan – oh wait, HOLY SHIT you would – Brandis.

    I mean, I had other much more lascivious crushes on the likes of Nikki Sixx (from about the age of six natch, then later Trent Reznor and Dave Navarro, but even then, aren’t those all guys who very much liked to present somewhat as homogay?

    This is weird, you fuckers, get out of my head!

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      I also had huge crushes on men like Trent Reznor, Dave Navarro, etc. When my friends were crushing on mainstream pop icons, I was obsessed with more “alternative” looking musicians. Actually my biggest, most obsessive crush was with the lead singer of the band Orgy (does anyone remember them?) He wore tight pants, had ridiculous hair, shiny makeup, and an all-over “sparkly” stage prescence. I didn’t know what “drag” was at the time, but it seems fitting at the time. It never ocurred to me that he might be gay (I have no idea who/where he is now), but the masculinity he presented was SO DIFFERENT fromthat of the other men my friends had celeb-crushes on.

      This is kind of weird to think about, now that I’m an adult and also really gay.

      I’m curious as to what other folks think about that and how it relates to the topic of this post.

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    So I remember playing along when everyone else had crushes on JTT and Leo and the members of BSB. I never cared one way or the other about any of them. I remember two things about that time. 1: being strangely excited about Kate Winslet’s boobs in Titanic and 2: not knowing what all the fuss was about when everyone in the Theater was clapping for Leo in Man in the Iron Mask. How it took another ten years for me to translate all that into my being gay I still don’t know…

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      Yes this. Except without the playing along because I was too cool (read: butch) for boy crushes. Titanic/nudity should have been like, one of the 10,000 times I should have figured my sexuality out a little earlier and saved some boys some pain.

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        Precisely! I don’t even know how many times I watched Titanic, allegedly for Leo. But in reality, it was the opportunity to see Kate Winslet, soaking wet, in a series of cleavage-baring dresses. She remains my #1 celeb crush.

        God, why didn’t I see the signals? LOL.

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    This list is spectacular. My girlfriend, when i met her, was blonde and had bangs, and when you just looked at her forehead/eye area, she looked IDENTICAL IN EVERY WAY to leo circa Romeo&Juliet, for serious. Yet she was super feminine and beautiful, as was leo…and it suddenly explained by hitherto inexplicable attraction to him. the end. awesome

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    Okay, so I JUST popped the Romeo + Juliet DVD out of my computer, like about 90 seconds ago. And I was thinking back and wondering if I loved this movie so much because it’s Shakespeare, because I thought I had a thing for Leonardo DiCaprio, or because Claire Danes is so incredibly gorgeous in this movie.
    Once again, Autostraddle answers my questions before they’re even fully formed. Thanks, guys.

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      I’m in a similar situation; but even when I thought I liked boys I never cared about Leo. When I first watched Romeo + Juliet in 8th grade I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Claire Danes. And I thought I liked that movie because I liked Shakespeare. Pff.

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    I think maybe part of the reason the Hansons were left out is that by the time they were a thing, most of the writers mean age (assuming, hopefully correctly that y’all are my age-ish) was juuuuuust past mmmbop, like maybe we still listened to it but rolled our eyes publicly about it because, um we needed to grow up and be cool

    are you guiys in the 26ish range?

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    But Autostraddle! There’s an entirely other genre of guys- old- enough- to- be- considered- men- but- with- long- enough- hair- to- be- considered- safe that you’re missing here! HeLLO, Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Evan Dando, and Keanu Reeves. And don’t even get me started on the whole Skater Boy haircut thing.

    Sidebar: Do not tell me I’m the only one on this thread old enough to NOT have been in love with Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

    Sigh. The 1990s and its long hair on guys made everything so confusing.

    P.S. JOHNNY DEPP IS STILL HOT. NO MATTER WHAT AGE. NO MATTER WHAT. I’D SWITCH TEAMS FOR EDWARD SCISSORHANDS IN A HEARTBEAT.

    and P.S. v2.0: ZACH BRAFF too.

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    That picture of Nick Carter-I CAN’T EVEN…

    I have wallpapered with a solid half of these dudes at some point in my life (though by the time I was 14 the balance was clearly switching towards their female co-stars).

    Incidentally, 20% of my wall was covered in Prince William when I was about 10-12. I blame Australian teen magazine “Dolly” for having no qualms about putting royal family members as the hottie of the week or whatever.

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    Over the summer I posted a facebook status about Orlando Bloom as Legolas (I still have a picture of him in my bedroom at my parent’s house…) This got a surprising number of comments, all but one of which was a statement of tweenage adoration from now-gay ladies. The exception was from my gay boy flatmate who said he’d never crushed on him because he looked too much like a girl.

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      Oh god, I wanted Legolas. I got so excited about those movies, and I think a huge part of it was the fact that I was suddenly able to chime in on the fangirly crushfests of my friends without completely lying.

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    DARREN HAYES, EARLY SAVAGE GARDEN ERA.

    When he was 24 and had this really lite-Goth thing happening and his hair was chin-length and almost like he tried to do dreadlocks but gave up.

    sdkjfhklasjfk;lsdfjds;g;;;;;;;

    my mum caught me in bed with a poster of Savage Garden when I was 13.
    12 years later I recreate that moment with a burlesque performance featuring that exact same poster.
    Darren Hayes sees a video of it on his FB wall and says “Hilarious!”.
    I DED OF SQUEEEEEEEEEE.

    i swear if he ever decides to sleep with me for whatever reason ALL BETS ARE OFF

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    Plus……..
    JAI RODRIGUEZ
    i was in love with him when he played Angel in RENT, back when he was skinny and pre-Queer Eye and pre-tattoos. When he was more girly. so pretty.
    http://www.broadway.com/shows/rent/photos/queer-eyes-jai-rodriguez-pays-the-rent/

    Also, MICHAEL PITT
    He was in Hedwig & the Angry Inch, Dawson’s Creek & Murder By Numbers. He looks like Leonardo DiCaprio & Nick Carter’s love child.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_R1XITopZlc8/TE0FNA9Le7I/AAAAAAAAAKY/JsHXXHv7Flo/s1600/michael-pitt.jpg

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    Oh, this was a very enlightening article. Devon and Leo were my ~*~soulmates~*~ when I was in middle school. I even had posters on my ceiling. I also had a lady boner for, like, half of these guys. That whole “liking boys until they become men” thing really resonated with me.

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    had i read this article at age 12, i’d have realised much much sooner!!!
    i was a hardcore nick carter fan.
    plus, the night i came out, a friend was sleeping over and she asked “then why do you have an elijah wood poster (lord of the rings)”.. i just blurted out “well, he looks like a girl”

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        I had the intriguing experience of hanging out with nick carter and his entire sibling clan a few years ago for a night at that crazy huge house they lived at while filming the dud-of-a-show “house of carters”, and i have to say, the mystique has vanished entirely and i’m thoroughly upset i had his face on my jr high wall. brian littrell, on the other hand, is a perfect gentleman with an awesome wife (whom he met like 15 years ago and has been with ever since) and a perfect little son. they are like the poster family for adorable.

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    A friend of mine was in an ATM lobby in the East Village a few years ago, when she and her gf started cruising someone who she thought was a really hot transman. It seemed like he was cruising them back. Afterwards, she was like “hot!” and her gf was like “that was elijah wood.”

  29. Thumb up 1

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    I loved this post, but I love reading the comments more. I never really had a specific boy crush. When my sister got her first boyfriend she tried to get me to talk about boys, so I wrote a list of 65 boys I liked and most of these boys were included, Will Smith was number one.

    I do remember that
    My walls were covered in posters and cut outs of Shakira, J Lo, and Michael Jackson. I was convinced I only wanted people who inspire me in my room… 
    It wasn’t until high school that I realized it was a different type of inspiration they provided. 

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    Ah-yup. I transferred directly from DiCaprio to Julia Stiles, because at that age they are more or less the same person.

    F’real, though, as some have already mentioned, peak Devon Sawa was that scene at the end of Casper. Christina Ricci thrown into the bargain? Yes please.

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    Jason London (and by extension Jeremy because I could never tell them apart) will always hold a special place in my heart because of The Man in the Moon.

    I remember watching that movie at a middle school slumber party. My friends were soooo into him. I pretended to be … but in reality, I was completely smitten with Reese Witherspoon, as the spunky adorable tomboy.

    Yet another “why the hell didn’t I recognize that as a crush?” moment from my adolescence.

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    Oh these pictures are taking me back to the good ole days of my youth a.k.a the 90s. I remember and loved many of these boys.

    Is it me or does Nick Carter look pretty gay in that picture. Just saying.

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    Totally had a subscription to B Bop magazine in grade school. I remember a girl across the street said she idolized gwen stefani, and I told her I idolized Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I think I thought idolized just meant “really really liked”, not “wanted to be like”. Both were kinda fitting though.

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    I had half of these exact posters on my wall in middle school! Well, before the day I took them to school and we burned them. XD

    I remember only really liking Nick Carter in this one BSB video where they were at a ski lodge, but it was a strong enough like for me to tell everyone he was my Epic Crush.

    Also, Devon Sawa, -yes-. My best friend was massively obsessed with him, so we used to watch the supermarket scene in Little Giants over and over again. Good times. <3

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    Haha. I’m bisexual and I had crushes on these guys AND their female co-stars. I was only a little kiddie in the 90s, though.
    I remember when I first saw Titanic… I was 6 or 7. seeing Leonardo DiCaprio gettin’ it on with Kate Winslet in the car was an absolutely phenomenal, life-altering experience for me. It was like hotness… times two.

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    I had Devon Sawa and Nick Carter on my wall as a teenager,
    And i’m bi-sexual today, Sweet, maybe we should sent them a ‘thank you’ card :-)
    I know that my girl likes Johnny depp and Leonardo Dicaprio as a teen and she’s 100% Lesbian

    However I don’t want to blame any of these nice guys for “turning” me to another side

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    I had tons of magazine cut-outs and posters of My So-Called Life and Romeo + Juliet…
    Common denominators I have only realized in adulthood as a lesbian = boys with long hair and Claire Danes.

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    God dammit, I’m a teenage girl and I find half of the guys in the list attractive. I’ve always been into cute, sometimes girly-looking guys, though not all the time, but most. Does this mean I’m lesbian or ;;;

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