Not all of us spent our high school years pining for the quarterback of the football team. Some of us were more drawn to the shy, sensitive types — the kind of guys who actually listen when you speak, and who have something interesting to say in return.
Like gay men, nerds have had to face down plenty of stereotypes over the years. Pocket protectors and bad haircuts? Ridiculous. A stutter and an obsession with computers? Not necessarily. Plagued by neurosis and insecurity? Well, okay, that last one’s pretty much spot on.
What is it about nerds that can be so sexy? It partly is their awkwardness in social situations. Honestly, who really wants to make small talk at a party anyway? Give me an actual conversation — and this is where nerds shine, the result of having read actual books and newspapers. The fact that a guy has never heard of Perez Hilton is a huge, huge plus in my book.
Sure, maybe nerds can sometimes take things a little too seriously. They might be a little too rumpled or maybe too perfectly pressed. And there’s truth to the idea that if someone is nervous, that makes you nervous too.
But most nerds don’t spend their whole lives in the gym. They don’t spend three hundred dollars on a haircut and another three hundred on “product.” You’ll never catch a nerd glancing at his reflection in a window when he’s supposed to be talking to you.
In other words, nerds don’t know how sexy they are. Which, of course, just makes them that much sexier!
Here’s to hot gay nerds! And here are a few of AfterElton.com’s favorites:
Gabriel in Trick (1999)
Trick’s Gabriel (Christian Campbell) may be an office temp during the day, but at night, the shackles come off and he becomes … a composer of Broadway musicals?
Yup, Gabriel’s a nerd. He may even be the ultimate gay nerd — or maybe just the most adorable.
Favorite movie moment? When Gabriel gets nervous while getting hot and heavy with Mark, his would-be one-night stand, and calms himself down by playing the piano in his underwear.
Parthenon got screwed!
Out reality contestant Dan Williams was Parthenon, the first gay superhero on the second season of the Sci-Fi Channel reality show Who Wants to be a Superhero? And once the competition was underway, he immediately proceeded to pulverize the competition — not necessarily with physical strength, but with his sharp wit and quick thinking.
Alas, Parthenon’s kryptonite turned out to be none other than a group of attention-deficit seven-year-olds. According to series host Stan Lee, the superhero didn’t bond with them well enough — as if he was applying for the job of kindergarten teacher, not a chance to save the world.
“Bling’s my thing!” says Parthenon, who derived his powers from a collection of Atlantian gems discovered by his archeologist alter-ego. But Parthenon was our thing too, because he proved once and for all that being smart is better than being loud.
Kyle in Eating Out (2004)
Jim Verraros won plenty of gay hearts as the 9th place finisher on American Idol in 2002, despite the fact that Fox censored his online diary where he talked openly about being gay. But it was post-Idol where Verraros found the perfect vehicles for his geeky charm, in an indie film farce called Eating Out and its sequel, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds (2006).
Jim had never acted before when he took the role as a sensitive musician who can’t get a date — at least not until he gets his straight roommate to pretend to be gay so that he can attract the girl of his dreams. But Verraros did just fine.
Favorite movie moment? When Kyle ends up with the character played by Ryan Carnes. Duh!
Chance on Noah’s Arc
When exactly did it become admirable to be ignorant? Fortunately, Noah’s Arc’s Chance (Doug Spearman) knows a lot. And why wouldn’t he? He’s a college professor after all. Okay, sure, Chance can be a little arch, a little pretentious. But know-it-alls always get what’s coming to them, and Chance is no exception.
Our favorite Chance moment in the former series on Logo? When Chance reveals his fantasy for “thugs,” and the hilarious way he resolves it with his willing partner Eddie.
Robert in Broadway Damage (1997)
The movie may be flawed, but the idea of a light-hearted gay romantic comedy in 1997 was years ahead of its time. Better still, the film is chock full of eye-candy, the sweetest of which may be Aaron Williams’ Robert, a classic gay movie nerd.
Favorite moment? The scenes where Robert tries repeatedly to pick up the clerk in the greeting card store only to be told, “I’m sorry, you’re really not my type.” Absolutely heartbreaking. We’ve all been there — and if you haven’t, why the hell are you reading this article anyway?
Sadly, Williams seems to have retired from acting shortly after the film’s release. Since he stole our hearts in the film, let us know if anyone’s seen him lately, because we wouldn’t mind getting our hearts back.
Ianto on Torchwood
Pity the poor, put-upon “support staff” anywhere, much less the ones that work for a secret, time-traveling arm of the British government dedicated to combating all manner of alien threats. But while Torchwood’s Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) began the series at his mild-mannered and buttoned-up nerdy best, he’s since come out of his shell — a move that can be explained, in part, by the revelation of his same-sex relationship with Captain Jack.
Now that Ianto gets to make all those wisecracks, and now that he’s dressing flashier too, is he still a nerd? What the hell — even nerds need their role models.
Luke and Noah on As the World Turns
Okay, so Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) technically aren’t nerds, but what do you call it when two college students date for a year and a half, living together much of that time, before they decide to have sex?
Griff in Another Gay Movie (2006) and Another Gay Sequel (2008)
Here’s one character played by two different actors, Mitch Morris (above left) in and Aaron Michael Davies (above right) in Another Gay MovieAnother Gay Sequel. But they’re united in their essential nerd-dom, which here basically just means they’re fussier than their co-stars.
We prefer Morris’ portrayal, because horn-rimmed glasses can be so damn sexy. Plus, Another Gay Movie is a thousand times better than the sequel.
Colonel Carl Jenkins in Starship Troopers (1997)
Sure, a lot of people thought Neil Patrick Harris grew sexier as the actor buffed up and came out, alternating between audacious roles such as the Emcee in the Broadway revival of Cabaret and Barney, his stereotype-busting womanizer on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
But some of us also appreciate the geeky, post Doogie Neil, best illustrated by his turn as Colonel Carl Jenkins in one of the most interesting/misinterpreted science fiction films of all time, Starship Troopers.
The character’s not gay, and he’s actually something of an evil mad scientist. But hey, the actor who played him is gay and cute, so let’s call him an Honorary Gay Nerd.