Queer coding is the process of informing an audience of an individuals sexuality without explicitly coming out and stating it as fact. This may include the way a person speaks and moves (tone of voice, gestures, mannerisms); the clothing choices they make (colors or fashions that the general public associate more with an opposite gender); the relationships they foster (being a “confirmed bachelor” or a “spinster”); and their general appearance (males being slight and feminine looking, females being muscular and visually more aggressive).
It’s a concept that has been utilized in the entertainment industry for over a century. The media typically accomplish this by subtly pushing specific stereotypes or traits associated with the queer community onto a person or character. Consider Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Scar in the Lion King, or Tai in Clueless. We are never told outright these characters are queer, but they are portrayed in a way that suggests they COULD be.
More and more, celebrities are taking over this concept and using it to express themselves outside their carefully curated, management- approved image. One would think in 2022 that society would be more open to accepting a person regardless of their gender or sexuality, but, as we are all too aware in this fandom, this is sadly not the case. Being openly queer in the entertainment industry still caries the risk of losing out on jobs or alienating audiences, thus reducing revenue. Creative queer coding techniques allow someone to have more freedom to express themselves authentically while providing a sense of plausible deniability by not stating their queerness outright.
Over the next few months, No Stunts Magazine will be exploring queer coding in the industry at large and especially how we feel Louis and Harry use it to express themselves. We’ll talk a little about the history, debunk some myths, and go into specific ways it is utilized today through fashion, music, and overall appearance. So, watch this space and join us as we decode the codes.
As a little teaser (and a little homework), look up the mission, vision, and philosophy of these clothing brands Louis seems to favor: Stone Island, Fred Perry, Aries, Lacoste, Raf Simons, and Ahluwalia. What do you see? Remember, there is purpose in everything they do. In our September issue, we be taking a closer look at queer coding through clothing choices and beyond. Hope you come along for the journey!