A/S/L? : A Queer Retrospective on The Very Best of The Early 2000’s

A/S/L? : A Queer Retrospective on The Very Best of The Early 2000’s

Do you miss being catfished on AOL chat rooms?

Us too.

Long ago, before the apps consumed our waking hours – before the apps even existed, gay culture was an entirely different beast than the one we know and hate/love today. We can’t help but get wrapped up in nostalgia, and so we’ve compiled a list of the very best parts of gay culture in the early aughts.

Justin Timberlake in the ‘NSYNC Era

Justin Randall Timberlake was gay culture whether you want to admit it or not. The ramen noodle hair, the slick dance moves, and the purely erotic vocals all added up to a quintessential early 2000’s crush. JT was a major player in many a homos sexual awakening, and despite the milquetoast adult Justin Timberlake grew up to be, he was undeniably a sexual icon in the early aughts. 

Aaron Carter

Speaking of icons who grew into weird adults - Aaron Carter! For Carter, the pride of Tampa, the early 2000’s was Aaron’s Party. Aaron Carter encapsulated everything about the gay 2000’s aesthetic. The twinky hair, the appearance on Lizzie McGuire - it was all very on the nose. He’s since come out as bisexual, and if you’re feeling brave, you can subscribe to his OnlyFans for only $27 per month. A bargain at any price!

Online Chat Rooms

Before we all had computers in our pockets that would allow for near instantaneous hookups, online chat rooms were where gay guys met, sent each other nudes, and ‘cybered’. Cyber sex was an exercise in imaginitive dirty talk and strategically sent pictures of yourself that had been taken on some kind of point-and-shoot digital camera. Arranging meetups felt risky and sexy - a far cry from the mundanity of the easy Grindr hookup we know today. 

BUTT Magazine

Butt Magazine was not only sexy, but undeniably, even painfully cool. Photography spreads featured arty muscle boys in various states of undress, and interviews were frank, straightforward, and often unusually conversational. BUTT Magazine was a magazine by and for homos, and reading it in the early 2000’s made you feel punk and subversive in a way that not a lot of other magazines could access.


Why was badly produced gay-for-pay porn so ubiquitous in the early aughts? The straight guy fantasy is understandable, if not a little cringey in retrospect, but why not give it some production quality? Some decent dialogue? Why did all these ‘straight’ guys immediately sit on a ten inch dick without blinking? These are the questions that haunt us late at night. Perhaps we’ll never have answers

Ryan Murphy only having one show on the air Nip/Tuck

God we miss when Ryan Murphy didn’t have five to seven separate miniseries running at any and every given time. The days of Nip/Tuck were simpler. It was a time before Glee, a time before Darren Criss. A time when plastic surgery was still a sexy and mysterious thing to write a TV show about. 

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain premiered in 2005, and was based around the flawed idea that two cowboys could have anal sex on a mountain for the first time without using any lube. In this way, the movie was ultimately flawed. Nevertheless, Brokeback was a gay cultural touchstone of it’s time, and undoubtedly is a huge reason we all wear so much flannel these days.


When dial-up internet was our only option, and one low-res image of a twink took approximately 15 minutes to load, erotic fiction reigned supreme. Nifty had pages of sexy stories for every kink imaginable. From military to sci-fi to erotic fan fiction, Nifty was your one stop shop for every kind of hot hookup you could dream of

Sure, now we can legally marry, DADT is repealed, queer people have more than a modicum of representation in media, we can no longer be fired for our sexual orientation, and our community is actively working to dismantle our own exclusivity, but weren’t the 2000’s fun?

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