Photography by JUCO | Retouching by Anna Glen at Wet Noodle
The Moment: October 27, 1955: The premiere of Rebel Without a Cause, starring Sal Mineo as a teenager besotted with James Dean’s Jim Stark.
Michael J. Willett is doing it all wrong. The modus operandi for budding gay talent is to hit the big time before making the big announcement, but this performer has thrown that formula out the window. Openly gay before making a splash, Willett is fast becoming a new kind of leading man, but more importantly, he’s becoming the embodiment of queer as cool. In last year’s G.B.F., he replaced the tiara as every would-be prom queen’s must-have accessory, and in this year’s hit MTV series Faking It (“a groundbreaking show,” as Willett calls it), he’s the most popular kid in a school where being gay is a badge of honor. Ironically enough, faking it is precisely what Willett hasn’t had to do to make it.
Photographed in Los Angeles on August 19, 2014
Styling by Kyle Blackmon. Groomer: Leah Rial for Exclusive Artists