Dec 30, 2015

Even Stevens: Shia Labeouf's Gay Subtext Teencom

Today Shia LaBeouf stars in quirky independent movies, but in the early 2000s, he was the Disney Channel's Next Big Thing, given as much screen time as Simon and Milo music videos. He starred in two Disney Channel movies, Hounded (2001) and Tru Confessions (2002); he guest starred on  The Proud Family and The Nightmare Room; he appeared on all of its reality programs, including Express Yourself, Movie Surfers, and  Super Short Show.

And he starred in Even Stevens (2000-2003), about Louis Stevens, a mischievous middle-school boy who bedevils his upper-middle class Jewish family, especially his older sister Ren and older brother Donnie.

Not a big fan of the gay community, Shia Labeouf today is the source of casual heterosexism, makes casual homophobic comments, and punched a guy in the face for "accusing" him of being gay.  But his Louis Stevens would probably be a strong ally.  He is intensely girl-crazy, and gets a steady girlfriend by the third season, but he is surrounded by gay people.  





His best friend, Twitty (A. J Trauth), is flamboyantly feminine, rarely expresses any interest in girls,  and has an obvious crush on him.  










A.J. Trauth's soft features and flamboyance prompted many real-life gay rumors, particularly when he was photographed wearing a t-shirt that read "Boy Toy."  A boy toy is an attractive younger man who has sex with an older man in exchange for money and gifts. 

But he is apparently heterosexual.  Today he lives in Odessa, Texas and performs in the band Maven.











Ren has a gay-coded best friend, Nelson Minkler (Gary LeRoi Gray), who is prissy, intellectual, not interested in girls, and obviously interested in Louis' older brother, Donnie.  After Even Stevens, he starred as a gay teenager in Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (2003), the film sequel of the Logo tv series about a group of gay black men.

Donnie Stevens (Nick Spano) is a bodybuilder who wanders around the house shirtless, providing ample beefcake.  He also expresses no interest in girls; in one episode he states that he has "a date," but carefully avoids pronouns, to leave the question of his date's gender open.  However, he is frequently seen with boys, and he has a particular interest in his coach (Tom Wise).




Prior to Even Stevens, Nick Spano played mostly muscular hunks who were required to take their shirts off, or everything off.  He starred in two gay-themed movies, The Journey: Absolution (1997) with Mario Lopez, and Defying Gravity (1997).  No word on whether he's gay or straight in real life.

With all of that gay-friendly talent and gay subtext, Shia must have felt rather uncomfortable on the set.

See also: Shia Labeouf's "Female Fans"