Talk about queer coding :D And about how a few dribbles of milk have gathered in the corner of his mouth :)
Hi! So this has the potential to be a very wordy post but I’m gonna keep is brief because I’m already seeing bits and pieces of it in other, existing posts.
First off! To say milk itself, as a substance, is intrinsically queer coded is actually too presumptuous. It’s more like milk is often used as suggestive/sexual substance, mostly because is visually connotes semen (sorry it’s just true). Go watch Fergie’s M.I.L.F or Miley’s Dooo It! videos or check out this Nicki Minaj shoot for reference. And there are plenty more where those come from.
Anyway, because milk ALREADY carries that symbolic weight, it’s common to signal or indicate a male character’s potential queerness using milk. Like a dude chugging a bottle of milk, especially with the little dribble you mentioned…it’s suggestive. Look at the trailer for SKAM’s season three to see exactly what I mean. They straight up introduced the theme of Isak’s sexuality with an carton of milk exploding in slow-mo all over his face while he watches a bunch of sweaty boys whip each other with towels in a locker room.
Possibly the most famous and relevant example of milk queering a character is in Rebel Without a Cause, which is in many ways still famous because it has one of the most obvious portrayals of queer youth in Hay’s code era cinema. (Not to mention it’s queer director and queer actors!) In Rebel, there’s this super memorable scene where Jim, Jame’s Dean’s character, takes a long swig from a glass milk bottle before sensually pressing it to his cheek, as if to cool himself down. It’s very sexy and very suggestive and that character is definitely struggling with his sexuality for the duration of the film. Plus, James Dean is bisexual and was well aware of the intention/signaling behind that role/gesture.
Also, If you want to read more about how Rebel is super gay, here’s a good concise summary.
In conclusion! I don’t think the photographer or anyone involved in that shoot necessarily meant for it to seem queer or sexy or sexy in a specifically queer way. I don’t know if it’s a Rebel Without a Cause reference or not. I just know when I saw that pictures my eyes got really big and I started sweating and blushing, and here’s why!!!