Queer Feelings. Reflections on Zarah Leander and Gay Diva Worship

Tiina Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Swedish actress and singer Zarah Leander's (1907-81)dark voice, travestie-like persona and her schlager repertoire made her a major gay icon in the 1950s, and she remains an icon in the gay community even today. This essay discusses some aspects of queer feelings and camp aesthetics connected with gay diva worship in the way the 'phenomen Leander' emerged in the postwar period in Sweden and Germany. The queer quality of the Leander performance is to be found in her transgressive erotic representation, in her vocal gender ambiguity, transformed in the gay male diva worship into countercultural resistance to 'normalcy'. This essay deals only with gay male Leander worship, but she also had a lesbian following.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115
JournalNordic Theatre Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Gender Studies


  • Zarah Leander
  • gender
  • gesture
  • emotion
  • feeling
  • queer
  • voice
  • kitsch
  • gay diva worship
  • camp


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