Fruity Fracas

Is Josh O’Connor “fruity”? The internet’s not sure

More and more often, men are hit with labels like “fruity” or “zesty” the moment they diverge from hypermasculinity. That includes Challengers star Josh O’Connor, who’s at the center of a fresh round of internet discourse.

The controversy stemmed from a headline from British fashion magazine Dazed. Over a picture of O’Connor, the magazine wrote, “The Great Fruity Boy Frenzy: why are women thirsty for feminine men?”

The topic of why straight women might like feminine men isn’t a new one. Androgyny has always been hot, and showing your feminine side is an essential part of that. But the viral Dazed post does raise an important question: is Josh O’Connor really all that feminine?

The accompanying article went on to cite O’Connor’s “visit to the Chelsea Flower Show” and his “proximity to queerness” from playing gay on-screen in movies like God’s Own Country and the upcoming History of Sound as reasons for his alleged fruitiness.

But the internet isn’t buying it. When a screenshot of Dazed’s Instagram post for the article made its way over to X, users were quick to critique what makes someone fruity. “There’s nothing really even openly feminine about him,” one user said of O’Connor. “He’s just a polite, happy person.”

Others pointed out that for a long time, “fruity” was a derogatory word used against gay men. It may not carry that same weight now (thanks in large part to queer men reclaiming it for themselves), but throwing it at people like O’Connor who haven’t publicly commented on their own sexualities could verge on the term’s homophobic roots.

Long story short, speculating on people’s gender expression is never the move. Dazed no doubt meant no harm with its article — it’s all about O’Connor’s attractiveness, after all — but that doesn’t mean the word should re-enter the mainstream.

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