AfterElton’s Hot 100 for 2008!

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted in June 2008, but we are bringing back as part of our occasional "Blast from the Past" series. Enjoy!

We’ve finished tabulating the ballots, double-checking our math and pondering the meaning of the results of the 2nd Annual AfterElton.com Hot 100 list. All that’s left to do now is reveal the list itself and announce who came out on top.

And – drumroll, please! – the winner is…

Actually, since we don’t want to ruin the fun of counting down to number one, we’ll get to that a bit later. (But if you were the sort of kid who always ferreted out his Christmas presents before Santa “officially” delivered them, you can just go here to see who came out on top, then work your way backward.)

As a reward for those of you who don’t cheat and skip ahead, here are exclusive comments some of this year’s winners gave AfterElton.com upon learning they’d made the list.

“I’m thrilled with the results. Who wouldn’t want to come in behind Jake Gyllenhaal?”
John Barrowman,
Torchwood

“I understand I’m underneath John Barrowman, which seems to happen quite a lot. Maybe, next year, Ianto can be on top."
Gareth David-Lloyd,
Torchwood

“Here’s hoping that the men above me (pun sort of unintentional) age rapidly in the next twelve months."
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother

“As a German – wow! I definitely have been lucky that so far there have been no scenes where one could see my incredibly hairy legs. Anyway, I’m really proud that I made it on your list. Thanks a lot!”
Jo Weil, Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love)


“Wait a second… I don’t even have abs! Thank you, AfterEltoners. I’m very flattered.”
—T.R. Knight, Grey’s Anatomy

“Look out, Barrowman! I’m coming for you!
Cheyenne Jackson, Xanadu

“I’m thrilled that so many people have responded so well to Luke and Noah’s story. Thank you! I’m thrilled to be a part of your list."
Van Hansis, As the World Turns

“I’m speechless … people must have been really searching for me to make it on there. No, it’s great that the fans have been so supportive. Hotness, whatever – It’s great to be on any list!"
Jake Silbermann, As the World Turns

As was the case last year, actors dominated the Hot 100 taking 87 spots. But not just any actors, mind you: fully 63% of those making the list are either gay themselves or have played gay before. Clearly, we like those men who like us. Well, at least platonically anyway.

After actors, the next biggest group of hotties consisted of singers (6), followed by a three-way tie between journalists, models and athletes, each providing two names for our list. And just like last year, Tom Ford had the “fashion designer” category all to himself.

As for nationalities, after the United States, the United Kingdom provided the most men with Scotland, England and Wales all represented. Canada filled the next most slots followed by Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Brazil, and Belgium.

The biggest change from last year is how many out gay men finished in the top ten. In 2007, just two did so, T.R. Knight at #8 and John Barrowman at #10. This time around gay men took four of the top ten spots, but more significantly, they took four of the top five spots. We think that says something significant about a whole range of things, including the fact that with each passing year, not only are there more out gay men from which to choose, but that the profile of those who are out is higher than ever before.

For example, in the United Kingdom, John Barrowman is nearly as ubiquitous as are images of the Queen, while in the United States, Neil Patrick Harris pops up constantly these days, whether on his own hit sitcom, at the box office, or on talk and game shows.

But it also seems to us that there is an element of, well, since it is June, let’s call it “gay pride” at work here. Not only do we value these out gay men for their hotness, but for their gutsiness and willingness to stand-up and be counted when so many others still can’t or won’t. (As with last year’s list, the Hot 100 includes a number of men thought to be gay, but who as of yet, have not come out publicly.)

Overall, the number of out gay men on this year’s list rose from fifteen to eighteen (their names appear with an asterisk next to them), but six of those eighteen were not on the list last year. Included among this year’s gay debutees are Brothers & Sisters Luke MacFarlane, who came out publicly just this past April, British actor Russell Tovey and singer Rufus Wainwright. And fully a third of those making this year’s list (gay and straight) are brand new, indicating a fairly healthy level of turn-over.

One disappointing aspect to this year’s list was a 50% drop in the men of color who made the Hot 100 — nine in all. Only three African-American men made the list and of them, only Darryl Stephens is gay. Additionally, no Asian men landed in the top 100 this year. What accounts for the drop? Men of color certainly didn’t become suddenly less sexy. Nor do we think our readers suddenly became less tolerant.

Darryl Stephens, Rockmond Dunbar

We suspect it’s a combination of factors. Even in 2008, Hollywood is still a shockingly white place. Given how many of those on our list are actors, and how many of those actors have played gay, it’s not then entirely surprising minorities are underrepresented. There simply aren’t as many actors of color who are either out or have played gay. And even when minority actors do play gay, since gay movies don’t get nearly as much attention as do “straight” ones, folks are less likely to have heard of them. Case in point is Maurice Jamal’s Dirty Laundry starring Rockmond Dunbar. Had the movie received a wider release and more attention last year, we suspect Dunbar would have made the list.

That being said, the current U.S. presidential campaign has clearly demonstrated that racism (as well as sexism and homophobia) are hardly things of the past. No doubt some amount of racism is at play here as well.

We know what you’re thinking — enough already with the patented AfterElton.com analysis. Show us the damned list already! So without further ado, we present to you the 2008 AfterElton.com Hot 100 list. The men are presented in descending order according to your votes (note, any ties were settled by random draw). No doubt you’ll have plenty to say so be sure to share your thoughts in the comments! And when you’ve finished here, be sure to check out AfterEllen.com’s (our sister site) own Hot 100 list for the ladies!

Michael Jensen, Dennis Ayers, Brian Juergens, and Brent Hartinger all contributed to the Hot 100.

100. Jared Leto

Rank last year: N/A

 

99. James Franco

Rank last year: N/A

 

98. Hayden Christensen

Rank last year: N/A

 

97. Ben Browder

Rank last year: 91

 

96. Adam Barta*

Rank last year: N/A

 

95. Thomas Roberts*

Rank last year: 69

 

94. Russell Tovey*

Rank last year: N/A

 

93. Peter Paige*

Rank last year: 86

 

92. Matthew McConaughey

Rank last year: 38

 

91. Jake Shears*

Rank last year: 75

 

90. Christopher Gorham

Rank last year: N/A

 

89. Robert Downey Jr.

Rank last year: N/A

 

88. Justin Hartley

Rank last year: N/A

 

87. Jude Law

Rank last year: N/A

 

86. John Krasinski

Rank last year: 76

 

85. Rufus Wainwright*

Rank last year: N/A

 

84. Ricky Martin

Rank last year: N/A

 

83. Nicolas Gob

Rank last year: N/A

 

82. Henry Cavill

Rank last year: N/A

 

81. Adam Levine

Rank last year: 66

 

80. Tom Ford*

Rank last year: 93

 

79. Shia LaBeouf

Rank last year: N/A

 

78. Jason Statham

Rank last year: 40

 

77. Mitch Hewer

Rank last year: N/A

 

76. James Sutton

Rank last year: N/A

 

75. Dave Annable

Rank last year: N/A

 

74. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rank last year: 51

73. J. P. Calderon*

Rank last year: 60

 

72. Darryl Stephens*

Rank last year: 96

 

71. Clive Owen

Rank last year: 55

 

70. Cristiano Ronaldo

Rank last year: 71

 

69. Ronnie Kroell*

Rank last year: N/A

 

68. Josh Duhamel

Rank last year: 33

 

67. Eric Mabius

Rank last year: 42

 

66. Paul Rudd

Rank last year: 21

 

65. Orlando Bloom

Rank last year: 50

 

64. Lee Pace

Rank last year: N/A

 

63. Eric Bana

Rank last year: 44

 

62. Ian Somerhalder

Rank last year: 18

 

61. Ashton Kutcher

Rank last year: N/A

 

60. Jensen Atwood

Rank last year: 43

 

59. Josh Holloway

Rank last year: 47

 

58. Eddie Cibrian

Rank last year: 29

 

57. Colin Farrell

Rank last year: N/A

 

56. Chad Allen*

Rank last year: 31

55. Patrick Dempsey

Rank last year: N/A

 

54. Ewan McGregor

Rank last year: 79

 

53. Paul Walker

Rank last year: 45

 

52. Gael Garcia Bernal

Rank last year: 17

 

51. Taye Diggs

Rank last year: 5

 

50. Eric Dane

Rank last year: 56

 

49. Matt Damon

Rank last year: 56

 

48. Chris Meloni

Rank last year: 13

 

47. George Clooney

Rank last year: 92

 

46. Matthew Fox

Rank last year: 46

 

45. James McAvoy

Rank last year: N/A

 

44. Declan Bennett

Rank last year: N/A

 

43. Jared Padalecki

Rank last year: 37

 

42. David Boreanaz

Rank last year: 30

 

41. Gerard Butler

Rank last year: 54

 

40. Johnny Depp

Rank last year: 61

 

39. Ryan Gosling

Rank last year: 24

 

38. Milo Ventimiglia

Rank last year: 41

 

37. Mario Lopez

Rank last year: 16

 

36. Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Rank last year: 22

 

35. Jamie Bamber

Rank last year: 25

 

34. Heath Ledger (in memoriam)

 

33. David Tennant

Rank last year: N/A

 

32. Randy Harrison*

Rank last year: 34

 

31. Tom Welling

Rank last year: 27

 

30. James Marsden

Rank last year: N/A

 

29. Jo Weil

Rank last year: N/A

 

28. Hugh Jackman

Rank last year: 7

 

27. Channing Tatum

Rank last year: 23

 

26. Christian Bale

Rank last year: 11

 

25. Justin Timberlake

Rank last year: 19

 

24. Zac Efron

Rank last year: N/A

 

23. Robert Gant*

Rank last year: 14

 

22. Matthew Rhys

Rank last year: 63

 

21. Ryan Phillippe

Rank last year: 9

 

20. Jake Silbermann

Rank last year: N/A

Kicking off the top twenty is newcomer Jake Silbermann, the handsome young
actor who plays Noah Mayer, one half of the groundbreaking gay couple on the
CBS soap As the World Turns. Jake captured the attention of audiences
everywhere when he was introduced as the (then straight) love interest of Luke
Snyder, and since then has enjoyed a heck of a ride as the couple navigated
obstacles both on-screen and off.

The New York
native just turned 25 this past weekend (Happy Birthday, Jake!) and aside from
his run as Noah, hasn’t been seen in much more beyond a Gossip Girl cameo and a
few commercials. But providing the lips for one half of the first gay kiss in
daytime history is no small potatoes, and Jake has become a fan favorite thanks
to his dark good looks and dreamy blue eyes.

When told the news that he had
ranked on the list, Jake was characteristically modest, noting, "I’m
speechless … people must have been really searching for me to make it on
there. [laughs] No, it’s great that the fans have been so supportive. Hotness,
whatever – It’s great to be on any list!"

 

19. Chace Crawford

Rank last year: N/A

This Gossip Girl star is another
newcomer to the Hot 100. However, we’d wager more than one gay man first became
aware of this Texas
boy’s charms not in the CW sudser, but rather in the 2006 teen horror film The
Covenant
. There viewers found the gifted athlete doffing his top more than once,
something always helpful for those aspiring to a “hot” list.

22-year-old Crawford didn’t even set out to be an actor, only taking a stab
at it when pushed into it by his mother who believed her son had an aptitude
for the profession. Clearly, this is one mother who knows best. As Gossip
Girl
’s Nate Archibald, Crawford’s been breaking hearts onscreen while making
them swoon off-screen. Given his coming in at #19, more than a few of those
palpitating hearts belong to our readers.

 

18. Wentworth Miller

Rank last year: 26

Moving up eight places, Wentworth Miller this year finds himself coming in
at #18. Not bad given that the 36-year-old’s hit series Prison Break has cooled
considerably in the ratings. Born in Chipping Norton, England, Miller moved to Brooklyn, NY
at the age of one where he grew up with parents of very diverse background. His
father is of African-American, Jamaican, English, German, Jewish, and Cherokee
ancestry while his mother’s roots come from French, Russian, Dutch, Syrian and
Lebanese descent. Clearly, the sleek and suave Miller inherited the best from
each of his ancestors’ looks.

The Princeton graduate relocated to Los
Angeles in 1995 to pursue acting and his first
television appearance came on the cult (and gay) fave Buffy the Vampire Slayer
as a speedo-wearing swimmer transformed into a “fish-man”. Given the heat that
Prison Break generated in its first season, it’s interesting to note that
Miller currently has no new projects listed on IMDB.com, something unusual for
an actor looking to capitalize on the momentum generated by a hit series. We wouldn’t mind seeing him in most anything,
but another role requiring a speedo would definitely be of interest.

 

17. Thore Schölermann

Rank last year: N/A

If there was a more unlikely person to make it into the top twenty of the
Hot 100, we’d be hard pressed to come up with someone other than this German
actor. Don’t’ get us wrong. We don’t say that to disparage Schölermann’s
appeal. He’s obviously very handsome and has charisma to spare, but he’s also a
relatively minor supporting actor on Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love), a night
time German soap opera not exactly well-known to the rest of the world.

Nonetheless, the first time we wrote about the show and Schölermann’s role
as Christian, a bisexual boxer who falls in love Olli (played by Jo Weil who
came in at #30), the reaction was instantaneous. Over 5,000 viewers watched
that first clip and 50 comments followed, almost all lauding this German soap
and its stars willing to go where American shows weren’t – that being steamy
kisses and bedroom scenes. Such is the power of the internet and the extent to
which gay viewers hunger for good gay representation.

The role of Christian is the 23-year-old actor’s very first. But with his
boyish looks, sexy smile and overflowing charisma, we’ve little doubt audiences
will be saying “Ja! Ja!” to seeing more of Thore.

16. Daniel Craig

Rank last year: 3

This hunky and exceedingly gay-friendly British actor is known to most as
James Bond, but he’s more than just a hot 40-year-old action hero who looks
good in a tux (or a pair of square-cut swimming trunks, for that matter). While
Craig’s profile has been lower in recent months (likely contributing to his
slide from #3 last year), he’s been hard at work in various projects that
showcase his range, be it playing an intellectual explorer in The Golden
Compass
, condemned murderer Perry Smith in Infamous (in which he shared a gay
smooch), or a xenophobic man on the run in The Invasion.

We, of course. love to see Daniel in all his forms, but we’d be lying if we
weren’t most looking forward to the blond Bond’s return to form in the
upcoming Quantum of Solace. Whether or not the teased rumors about Craig’s
desire to have Bond explore his sexuality are true, he’s proven himself an
actor who is comfortable in his skin playing men of all preferences. And with
that skin, who wouldn’t be?

 

15. Brad Pitt

Rank last year: 12

Brad Pitt was voted People Magazine’s sexiest man alive twice (in 1995 and
2000), so it’s no wonder that he would rank somewhere on our Hot 100. Ask
anyone to compile a list of handsome celebrities and Pitt is sure to appear at
the top. Still, the actor is not really thought of as a particular “gay
favorite.” No doubt he would be if he
ever gets around to playing a gay movie role. (We refuse to count his turn as
the cinematically neutered Louis in
Interview with a Vampire.
) Even
though Pitt has never played gay, you get the sense that he would in a
heartbeat if the right role came along.
This is one leading man who’s not afraid to take risks.

In 2009 he will star as Ron Woodruff in The
Dallas Buyer’s Club
. The project is based on the true life story of
Woodruff, a heterosexual (and homophobic) electrician who contracted AIDS in
the mid-eighties. Woodruff eventually became an AIDS activist and founded an
organization (the “Dallas Buyers Club” of the title) to assist AIDS patients in
getting their life-prolonging meds.

The actor has also voiced support for gay rights issues. In 2006 Pitt
famously told Esquire magazine that he and Angelina Jolie would only consider
marriage when gays were allowed to marry in this country. Okay, so California is not exactly the entire
country, but it’s a big enough step forward that wedding bells could be imminent
for Jolie and Pitt. We can only wish them all the best.

14. T. R. Knight*

Rank last year: 8

Clearly, 35-year-old Theodore Raymond Knight has been hitting the gym this
past year. He was always cute but now he’s downright chiseled and handsome. The
writers of Grey’s Anatomy took some heat this past season for romantically pairing
his character, George O’Malley, with Katherine Heigl’s Izzie. Many Grey’s fans complained there was no
chemistry between the two, but we very much liked the pairing and had no
problem accepting openly gay T.R. in a heterosexually romantic role.

We’re a little less sanguine about Knight’s real-life pairing with
19-year-old Mark Cornelson. While we
wish them every happiness, it saddens us that the handsome Minnesota native is off the dating market.
And dashing any of our residual hopes – he also apparently likes younger men.
Oh, well.

As for making the Hot 100, T.R. told AfterElton.com,
“Wait a second… I don’t even have abs! Thank you, AfterEltoners. I’m very flattered.”

 

13. Jensen Ackles

Rank last year: 35

If you don’t watch the CW network (and before that the WB) it’s quite possible
you’ve never even heard of Jensen Ackles.
But gay fans who do know him must be quite passionate about him. How
else to explain his spot at #13 on the Hot 100?

30-year-old Ackles got his start in 1997 on the daytime soap Days of Our Lives, and then went on to a
recurring role in Jessica Alba’s WB television series, Dark Angel. He followed that
with short stints on Dawson’s Creek
and Smallville before landing his
current gig on the CW series, Supernatural where he co-stars opposite Jared Padalecki (#43 on the Hot100 list). The two actors play brothers on that show,
and if there’s any sibling rivalry between the two, Ackles can take pride in
the fact that he ranked so much higher on the Hot 100!

Also, Ackles is receiving rave reviews for his performance in the as yet
unreleased independent film, Ten Inch
Hero
(And before you go getting any ideas, the title refers to a submarine
sandwich.)

12. David Beckham

Rank last year: 39

Few straight men – much less straight athletes – have gone further in
embracing their status as a gay icon than has this 33-year-old English soccer
star. Husband of Spice Girls’ Victoria “Posh
Spice” Adams, he forever became known as the
poster boy of “metrosexuality” back in 2002 when a Salon.com writer “outed” the
soccer star as a metrosexual. Becks, as he is frequently referred to, also
posed for the cover of U.K.
gay magazine Attitude and has said on more than on one occasion that he loves
being a gay icon and is even “honored” by it. How can us gay boys fail to
appreciate that?

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Beckham is frequently seen sans shirt as he
races around the soccer pitch. But of late he’s been seen even wearing less
than that in his new campaign for Giorgio Armani underwear; a campaign, we hasten
to add, that leaves very little to the imagination. It’s no wonder Becks moved
from #39 last year all the way up to #12. Who knows what he might do in order
to make the top ten next year?

 

11. Gareth David-Lloyd

Rank last year: N/A

When we interviewed Welshman David-Lloyd earlier this year, we found the 27-year-old Torchwood actor to be funny, charming and
self-effacing. He came across as completely at home in his own skin and
completely comfortable playing Ianto Jones, the romantic love interest to
Captain Jack (John Barrowman). No doubt
that accounts for much of his appeal to our readers who have devotedly followed
every twist of the Janto (as fans refer to the couple) romantic storyline over
the course of two seasons.

How does David-Lloyd feel about being one half of television’s most visible same-sex
couples? In our interview with him he explained, “I’m one of
these people of that age where it’s just not an issue, and it never has been.” Now that’s sexy.

David-Lloyd isn’t just an actor who knows how to deliver a one-liner; he’s
also an accomplished musician fronting the blues band Blue Gillespie and hopes
to release an EP by the end of the summer. He also told us that he’s looking forward to meeting his fans this summer at Comic-Con in San Diego, at Dragon Con in Atlanta and Polaris in Toronto.

As for making our list, David-Lloyd’s response was very Barrowman-esque (his
co-star is very well known for his ribald sense of humor). Said the cheeky
Welshman, "I’m delighted to be bringing so many people pleasure in
whatever way I can. I understand I’m underneath John Barrowman, which seems to
happen quite a lot. Maybe, next year, Ianto can be on top."

We find it hard to argue with that. Or his coming in at #11.

10. Ryan Reynolds

Rank last year: 6

Ah, mister Reynolds. What is it about you? Is it your twinkling eyes? Your
self-effacing sense of humor? Or is it your chest … yes, it may be the chest,
but we’ll take the whole package. Reynolds transformed himself from a wiry
wisecracker to a certified himbo when he beefed up for movies like Blade:
Trinity
and The Amityville Horror, and we’ve been enjoying his mountainous bod
… er, impressive body of work ever since.

Last year Reynolds played against type by playing three different characters
(one of them gay) in John August’s deliciously clever The Nines, then followed
that up with a charming performance as a single dad in Definitely, Maybe. He’s
got several high-profile projects in the works opposite leading ladies including
Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, so it doesn’t look like this 31-year-old Vancouver native will be
slowing down any time soon. Oh, did we mention he’s engaged to marry Scarlett
Johansson? Well, we didn’t because we’re jealous.

9. Anderson Cooper

Rank last year: 32

When Anderson Cooper came in at #32 on last year’s list, his comment to AfterElton.com was, "I’m flattered to be on the list. Clearly, they have not seen my pale
skinny chicken legs. It’s nice to know there is a market for pale, skinny,
grey-haired people."

Over the past year that market has clearly grown as Anderson moved all the way up to the top ten.
It’s also interesting to note that Anderson’s popularity has not been dented by
his continuing to decline to comment concerning speculation about his sexuality
despite the increased pressure from media outlets such as Out magazine. Readers might
recall the gay monthly put Anderson and Jodie Foster on their cover as part of
their reporting on the phenomenon of the glass closet.

The forty-year old journalist (who turns forty-one on June 3rd)
is affectionately known by many fans as the “silver fox” and his ranking on
our list proves that gay and bisexual men are attracted to all types of men.
There is no denying Anderson
is handsome, but as the highest ranking non-actor on our list, much of his appeal surely
stems from his reputation as an intellect. A graduate of Yale University,
this son of privilege (he’s the son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt) spent two
summers interning at the Central Intelligence Agency before settling on a
career as a journalist.

Cooper has won a slew of Emmy awards for his work, received a National
Headliners Award for his coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami, a GLAAD award
for his report on out high school student Corey Johnson, just to a name a few
of his honors. In 2006, he also published The New York Times bestselling
Dispatches from the Edge about his life as a journalist.

Smart and sexy! It’s not hard to see why he made the top ten.

 

8. Chris Evans

Rank last year: 2

The handsome 26-year-young actor slipped a few spots from last year (he was
riding high on plenty of shirtless Fantastic Four promotion last summer), but
that doesn’t mean he’s cooled in the least. In fact, the stunner has spent the
last year picking projects that seem selected in an attempt to convince us that
he’s more than a pretty face: his turn as a gruff scientist in Sunshine and as
the romantic lead in The Nanny Diaries allowed him to keep his shirt on more
than normal. But we won’t hold it against him. Evans has approximately five
projects in various stages of production, so we should be seeing a lot more of
him in the year to come … and "see more of him" we certainly hope to
do!

 

7. Van Hansis

Rank last year: N/A

A newcomer to the Hot 100 this year, 26-year-old actor Van Hansis crashed
into the top ten without mussing a single hair on his adorable head. Known to
audiences worldwide for playing gay teen Luke Snyder on As the World Turns, Van
holds the distinction of being one half of the first gay kiss in the history of
daytime television. But those who have followed his character’s story from the
beginning know that he’s more than just a sensational smooch.

A subtle actor with a great deal of nuance for his age (not to mention the
ability to navigate the oft-absurd waters of soaps with impressive ease), Van
grew up in a household with no television (he has called his upbringing
"nearly Amish") but is adapting to big city life and stardom like a
pro.

His place at the top of the list is a testament to gay viewers’ investment in
his character’s story and in his skill in connecting with his audience, and we
look forward to what this role and future projects have in store for him. Wait,
did we mention that he’s adorable? Yes? Okay, never mind.

When he learned that he made the list, Van said, "Yessss! I’ve never
been on a hot people list before, so it’s really exciting … I’m thrilled that
so many people have responded so well to Luke and Noah’s story. Thank you! I’m
thrilled to be a part of your list."

6. Gale Harold

Rank last year: 4

It is hard to separate Gale Harold from Brian Kinney, the character he played
so successfully for five years on the American version of Queer as Folk. The character (and by association Harold) has always
been a flashpoint with gay men. Some folks loved Queer as Folk’s Brian for his sexiness, intensity and unapologetic
hedonism. Others saw the character as essentially amoral and repugnant.

Back in January, Brian Kinney actually topped our list of the most popular
gay TV characters of all time, and that fact set off a firestorm of debate. Quite
possibly we’ll see a similar debate about Gale Harold’s high ranking on this
year’s Hot 100, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that Gale Harold is not Brian Kinney. Whether or not you
were a fan of Queer as Folk, there’s
no disputing that Gale Harold the actor is one sexy man. And he certainly
deserves credit for taking on a prominent gay role (and seeming to relish in
the portrayal) at a time when many of his acting peers were reluctant to play
gay.

Harold has signed on for the next season of Desperate Housewives. Regrettably, he’ll be playing Susan’s love interest and not
Andrew’s, but at least this may allow the actor to finally step out from behind the long shadow of his Queer as Folk character.

 

5. Neil Patrick Harris*

Rank last year: 53

It’s difficult to say exactly why 34-year-old Neil Patrick Harris vaulted
all the way from #53 in last year’s poll, to #5 this year, but given the number
of out actors in the top five, our readers clearly find gay men comfortable in
their own skin to be very hot. And that definitely describes this former child
star who made the difficult transition to adult actor with a grace and ease few
others have managed. No doubt his many gay fans were also pleased when Harris
and boyfriend David Burtka appeared together on the red carpet at last year’s
Emmy awards, one of the rare times a high profile gay couple has made such
an appearance. And the fact Harris seems to have been hitting the gym of late
probably didn’t hurt his high ranking either.

Like Torchwood’s John Barrowman and Xanadu’s Cheyenne Jackson, Harris is
another out actor who has no trouble finding work. From his Emmy-nominated role
on CBS’ How I Met Your Mother to his hilarious performance as a warped version
of himself in the Harold & Kumar movies to his frequent appearances on Live
with Regis & Kelly
and most recently on Million Dollar Password, Harris is a man of
diverse talents and interests.

One of those interests is magic, with Harris having performed tricks on
Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and most recently Ellen DeGeneres’ show. In fact,
Harris sits on the Board of Directors of Hollywood’s Magic Castle.
Perhaps Harris can use those magic skills to move even higher on next year’s
Hot 100. As he told us when informed about making this year’s Hot 100, "I am
honored to be so hot. It is one thing to think kindly of yourself, but to
have that feeling validated by the readers of AfterElton.com – well, that’s
just fantastical. Here’s hoping that the four men above me (pun sort of
unintentional) age rapidly in the next twelve months."

 

4. Cheyenne Jackson*

Rank last year: 36

While we harbor no illusions that landing in the top five of the
AfterElton.com Hot 100 list can make up for his unjustly not receiving a Tony
nomination for his hilarious turn as Sonny Malone in the Broadway musical
Xanadu (both Ben Brantley and Christopher Isherwood of The New York Times named Jackson as the actor they believed should have been nominated), we do hope that this accolade softens the sting at least a little.

Like his Scottish counterpart John Barrowman, Cheyenne Jackson is foremost a musical entertainer. He
first garnered widespread notice in 2004’s hit off-Broadway show Altar Boyz,
and the following year his profile rose even higher when he originated the role
of Chad
in the Elvis Presley inspired musical All Shook Up. But it sky-rocketed last July
when Cheyenne skated to the rescue of Xanadu by stepping into the skates of
Sonny a week before the show was scheduled to debut after the original Sonny
injured himself during rehearsals (Jackson was familiar with the role having
played Sonny during workshops). Additionally, Jackson earned stellar reviews for his role in 2006’s United 93 where he played the openly gay Mark Bingham.

The 32-year-old Jackson
is a very busy man frequently appearing in various readings of new works,
singing in concerts, and making appearances on behalf of GLBT organizations
including AMFAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. An avid dog lover, Cheyenne has also joined
Bernadette Peters for her Broadway Barks campaign to help raise awareness concerning
homeless animals.

Like Barrowman, Jackson
is another actor with leading man looks (inherited in part from his Native
American father) who chose to be out and proud when staying in the closet might
have been the safer thing for his career. When we asked him last year what
effect being out had on his career, Jackson
said, “I think it’s been a detriment, probably just a little bit. Had I not
been out and open, I think I might have gotten some movies that I screen-tested
for. People may have said, ‘The dude’s gay; how are we going to market this?’ But
it’s not an issue for me, because being out is very freeing.”

And might we add, sexy.

When asked about how he felt coming in at number four on our list, Cheyenne said, “Look out,
Barrowman. I’m coming for you!”

3. Luke MacFarlane*

Rank last year: N/A

Making the highest debut of anyone on the Hot 100 List is, 28-year-old Canadian
Luke MacFarlane rocketing into the third position. The secret to his stunning
success? Portraying Brothers & Sisters adorable Scotty Wandell, who
recently “wed” his partner Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) in television’s highest
profile same-sex commitment ceremony, certainly didn’t hurt; nor did MacFarlane’s
decision to come out to a Canadian newspaper last April. Throw in the fact that
the frequently stubble-faced thespian is not only smoking hot, but possesses an
innate sweetness that caused fans to fall hard for his portrayal of the
sometimes hapless Scotty, and you have his recipe for success.

MacFarlane’s profile will likely on increase this fall when Brothers &
Sisters
returns to ABC and fans tune in to see what’s next for Kevin and Scotty. Additionally, in November, Canadian audiences can see MacFarlane play
James Nichol in Iron Road,
a TV mini-series set in 1882 about an immigrant Chinese woman who falls for the
son of a railroad tycoon. The role casts as MacFarlane as the heterosexual love
interest — adding yet another actor to the growing list who have proven being a
gay heartthrob doesn’t mean you can’t play a straight love interest.

 

2. John Barrowman*

Rank last year: 10

It’s theoretically possible that John Barrowman isn’t the busiest entertainer
in the world, but there is simply no way he isn’t the busiest gay entertainer zipping around the
planet. In the past twelve months, he has released an album, published an
autobiography (co-written with his sister), starred in the second season of
Torchwood, guest starred on three episodes of Doctor Who, one episode of Hotel
Babylon
, served as a judge on I’d Do Anything, appeared on Any Dream Will Do,
and hosted the children’s program The Kids Are All Right. And those are just
the highlights. Okay, some of the highlights.

Additionally, John and his partner, Scott Gill, gave gay fans everywhere an
extra little thrill when they appeared together at last year’s London Pride.
John actually pulled Scott up on to the stage, giving his hubby (the two
entered into a civil partnership back in 2006) a kiss in front of a cheering
crowd. An outspoken advocate for gay rights, John has been out professionally
for years, and as his list of credits prove, his openness hasn’t held him back.

John moved from #10 on last year’s list all the way up to #2 where Jake
Gyllenhaal edged him out in a photo finish. AfterElton.com asked John how he
felt coming in second to the Brokeback
Mountain
star. With his
usual cheekiness, John told us, “I’m thrilled with the results. Who wouldn’t
want to come in behind Jake Gyllenhaal?”

Is it any wonder gay men love him so much?

 

1. Jake Gyllenhaal

Rank last year: 1

Given how little we’ve actually seen of Jake over the past twelve months –
two films that grossed only $43 million between them; his very low profile
since the death of friend and Brokeback
Mountain
co-star Heath
Ledger
– it truly is a testament to Gyllenhaal’s enduring appeal to gay men
that he topped our list for the second straight year. (It should be noted,
however, that he edged out John Barrowman by only the narrowest of margins.)

What accounts for Jake’s ongoing appeal to gay men? His doe-eyed, boy next
door (yet somehow smoldering) looks certainly don’t hurt, but we suspect what
really makes gay men go for him is that he doesn’t have an issue going for us.
From playing gay in Brokeback to appearing at a GLAAD award show to not feeling
the need to distance himself from his gay fans (remember the shout out to us
done in drag on Saturday Night Live?), Jake has done as much as any actor to
show straight guys there isn’t a good reason to be afraid of gay guys (or gay
roles).

Jake’s upcoming projects will showcase his range and willingness to tackle a
variety of roles. This December he’ll be starring in director Jim Sheridan’s
drama Brothers, then in 2009 moviegoers will see him tackle the romantic comedy
Nailed before playing Dastan in Prince of Persia (based on the video
game of the same name). Alas, none of his roles have him playing gay again, but we are curious to
see what he does with his upcoming role as Joe Namath.