The 90s made me gay. I was born in 1989, so growing up in the 90s was a wonderful decade to be raised as ‘gay.’ The ‘gay part’ has thus manifested itself as pansexuality. ‘Pansexuality mixed with nostalgia for the 90s’ is what it’s like to be me in a nutshell.
The nostalgia of the 90s for me begins with cartoons. Disney was in its heyday with movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. My favorite of all the Disney movies was Beauty and the Beast, released in 1991. I sang like Belle. I wore clothes with her on it. I had a birthday party that was Beauty-and-the-Beast-themed. I loved her; I wanted to be her. My love for her was sealed in the film, at the part where she gets excited over the library. I knew then that I didn’t want the Beast, I wanted Belle. I also wanted the library!
Another cartoon that sticks out to me from that time is Daria. Daria was a show released in 1997, and follows the life of cynical Daria Morgendorffer. Daria is raised in an upper class neighborhood where she feels as if she doesn’t fit in with her peers or family. I found myself relating to her cynical attitude – a cynical attitude that I had adopted for feeling like there was something wrong with me for having my ‘gay thoughts’. But, I also felt myself wanting to watch her more and more. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if it was fully a crush. I just wanted to hang out with someone beautiful who understood what it was like to feel separate from everyone else.
To really age myself, I remember seeing Titanic in theaters. I remember catching my breath over and over by the costumes and beauty of the actors. Like every other girl at that time, Leo DiCaprio was a huge crush. But, no one warned me about Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet with her snobbery, beautiful costumes, and piercing blue eyes. The scene that stands out to me the most (like for most people) is the one where she’s laying down naked while he sketches her. You even see her nipple! My 8-year-old self had sweaty palms and a racing heart. But, why? She was a girl. I wasn’t gay. I was so wrong.
One of the few times I felt represented, and saw a healthy representation of queer people, was Will and Grace. I know that Will and Grace mainly focused on gay men, but it felt important. Seeing Will Truman, one of the main characters, be successful as a lawyer and have good friendships was so inspiring. His homosexuality was obviously a big part of his adventures and story, but he thrived. He had rich clients that wanted to work with him, despite his sexuality. I loved it and couldn’t wait for adulthood – an adulthood that included people loving me for me.
I could continue spilling my guts with my love for the 90s. Cartoons, Titanic, Will and Grace, and so much more have helped me more than I can fathom. I live a life with confidence for who I am, a pansexual woman, who loves everyone. I’m grateful to have had such positive interactions with my sexuality at such a young age. The amount of representation wasn’t even close to what it is now, but that’s okay. I’m still here and queer.