Cover Image: The 2000s Made Me Gay

The 2000s Made Me Gay

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Member Reviews

“Perhaps, thinking of pop culture as escapism isn’t the right framing at all. Maybe it’s actually vacationism, or retreatism, or getting – the – fuck – away – for – a – whileism. And like most getaways , we usually bring some kind of souvenir back with us.”

I felt equal parts called out and validated by this book and really, that’s all you need to know to pick it up. If you grew up smack dab in the middle of the height of popular culture—the early 2000s—chances are, you can at least relate to half of the essays in this book. If you’re also part of the LGBTQIAP+ community and only realised in hindsight that the way you thought about Serena van der Woodsen wasn’t because you wanted to be her but because you wanted to be with her, then I can guarantee that this collection will become your gay bible. Grace Perry discusses pop culture that shaped us every step of our tweenhood, from Mean Girls and Harry Potter to Disney Channel Original movies and anthems like I Kissed a Girl and doesn’t hold back when it comes to eliciting just how frighteningly damaging some representations have been in her journey to coming out as gay.

Perry is blunt and funny in her examination of the early 2000s gay heroes—it’s equally nostalgic and uplifting to reminisce about the gay heroes we created back in the day before casual queerness and actual on-screen representation became more regular (still not enough, but we’re getting there!). From dissecting Lindsay Lohan’s “fall from grace” and the media’s lesbophobia (as well as Lohan’s later dismissal of her wlw relationship) to the very difficult topic of Harry Potter, its transphobic creator and the queerbaiting of releasing the news about Albus Dumbledore being queer without any hints in the actual novels, this book sure knows how to pack a punch, expose stereotypes and highlight how much we are influenced by depictions of queer characters, especially by those that aren’t all too positive.

Though I have my favourites from these essays, the ones that really stuck with me were those that highlighted how much internalised homophobia is a systemic issue. Detailing the queerbaiting that went on with the release of Katy Perry’s earth-shaking I Kissed a Girl made me remember my own youth and how I used to scream those lyrics way before realising I was part of the LGBTQIAP+ community. Similarly, it was incredibly enlightening to read Perry’s analysis of Mean Girls, a movie that has become a classic and remains iconic with its witty humour, and realise that a lot of movies that shaped who we are actually had some of the worst representation of gay characters. Perry also addresses the way in which teens infused these narratives with queer subtext to feel seen and boy, if that didn’t hit home.

Beyond the analysis of texts Perry offers, I also really loved the tidbits we got about her own journey because they read so similar to my own—and probably a bunch of other millennials’—experience. Perry’s move from someone who dresses as a tomboy to someone who kisses her girl friends but is totally not gay, to someone who supports the LGBTQIAP+ community but totes isn’t part of it herself, to discovering her own identity…it was a rollercoaster that I’m sure many can relate to.

All in all, I strongly urge every millennial (or human being who still uses pop culture references from the 2000s—you are the backbone of society, my friends) that wants to reminisce about their 2000s experience to pick up this book—Grace Perry’s collection of essays is equal parts reflective and a call to do better in the representation of the LGBTQIAP+ community. A timely piece of literature that you won’t want to miss out on!
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What a funny, deeply personal, nostalgic dive into teen millennial culture experienced through the lens of a now thirtysomething lesbian as she looks back on her closeted youth and how what she watched and listened to shaped who she became (or rather, made her realize who she was all along.) 

I felt very close to the author, as we have had similar experiences: from the midwest and born in the same year, attended religious schools and church (though thankfully I didn’t go as long as she did) and watched and listened to pretty much the exact same things. Also like her, I was confused about who I was and who I thought I was supposed to be. It was amusing and slightly depressing to re-live my love for Disney Channel Original Movies, The OC, Mean Girls, etc. with the idea that all of those in many ways portrayed queerness on a scale of (my own words) “missed the mark” to “definitely offensive” but at the time, it’s all we had. 

She makes a great and true point that queer Gen Zers get to experience so much more representation in pop culture today, which is absolutely wonderful and indicates that we are, however slowly, evolving as a society.
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First off, thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of this book I received in exchange for a fair and honest review.

So, as a human that finished high school in 2003, I am a little bit older than the author, but not so old that I couldn’t relate to and remember a lot of what she was discussing in this book. I remember having a lot of the same thoughts and feelings and it’s kind of reassuring to know that other people so strongly connect to the fictional life experiences they see play out on tv. Like Perry, I found myself drawn to the romances, the “right way” to perform these romances, and frustrated with the way life never played out for me like it did For Joey and Pacey. Love the book and love pop culture. Funny, fast, relatable read.
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A super fun read! This was a very funny and Interesting book for me. I loved going on a nostalgic trip to the past and reliving some of the pop culture moments from my teen/tween years.
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This was such a fun perspective on the 2000s and pop culture. The author was a little younger than me but we still experienced a lot of the same iconic pop culture moments. It was a very unique way of writing on the subject. As a straight woman, I didn't see these tv shows etc in the way she did but it was really interesting to gain a new way of perceiving them from another's point of view.

I really enjoyed the walk down memory. A lot of the author's thoughts were very funny and thoughts that I had had myself. It was a fun ride. She was very honest throughout which I really appreciated.
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Grace Perry was born the same year as me, 1989, so our pop culture references are the same - and while luckily I didn’t have to catholic school growing up, the internalized homophobia that Perry grew up with was also familiar. This memoir and pop culture essay critique is funny, insightful, and a great time capsule of millennial young adulthood. One of my favorite things about this collection is that while it calls out the problems of our past obsessions, it also recognizes how much they meant to us and were shaped by the specific time (early aughts) that we have so much nostalgia for. 

Perry walks us through Mean Girls, Harry Potter (the books, not the movies), Disney Channel Original movies (Cadet Kelly! Motocrossed!), and Glee, among others, while examining the ways in which she explored and repressed her sexuality at different times in her teenage and early 20s life. From deciding whether to dress as a “tomboy” or a “girly girl” to kissing friends that were girls but not ever talking about the feelings under it, to crushing on all the women stars in those romcoms. Perry shows us how kids were creating gay storylines where they didn’t exist or weren’t crafted beyond a performative inclusion (for example, the throwaway comment that Dumbledore was gay) and how it gave kids a way to avoid their identity  but failing miserably to create real representation. There was something special about the ways in which we created those stories for ourselves — just take a look at the thousands is fan fiction stories out there! But it also makes me feel lucky that we have been - however slowly- able to move into a space where celebrities can be proudly out, media includes gay storylines, and we can see beyond painful stereotypes. 

This book should be picked up by any millennial that wants to walk thru their favorite pop culture mainstays of the early aughts and to reflect back on a time of multiple tanks and bright eyeshadow.
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It was just okay. I finished it but wouldn’t recommend it nor would want to read it again. Just okay.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this book. I enjoyed the nostalgia from this collection of essays. I think the best audience is millennials, but one doesn't necessary have to identify as gay or queer to enjoy this read. This collection reminded me of Tumblr in my high school years. It was a place where people were able to find some solace or connection over fandoms, pop culture. Especially for identities that may not have been fully accepted at the time or accepted by themselves even (relatable). The coming to age nature of accepting/exploring your identity is really special, and I'm just glad something like this exists -- lighthearted, but valuable, humorous and not taking themselves too seriously. It's a fun read of re-experiencing some similar memories, and I really enjoyed reading it. My fav sections were Harry Potter and the ones about some of the music.
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I really liked this series of essays about the 2000s and the author's journey into her queerness.  As a queer millennial myself I related to all this so much.
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Do you ever read something that feels like it was stolen directly from your head? That is this book. I was labouring under the impression that Family Channel had made me gay but in reality, it was in fact the entire 2000's as a whole, as I now know. 

An absolutely delightful read and a great time.
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{Thank you to St. Martin's Press for my gifted copy.}

The 2000s Made Me Gay is an essay-style book that will connect with readers that were also coming into adulthood in the 2000s.  For LGBTQ+ millennials, it was a time when not just society but also media was still very heteronormative. Much needed change was on the horizon, yes, but in the early 2000s, the heterosexual experience was often shown in a token or flat way, to fill the spot but never be able to fill the void.

"It’s like—you know how before 1990, cable was barely a thing, and so everyone just watched the same four broadcast channels? Which meant everyone was watching pretty much the same shows, consuming the same content, which resulted in 106 million people watching the M*A*S*H* series finale in 1983, because it was pretty good but mostly because it was, well, there? The L Word didn’t weasel its way into the lesbian lexicon because it was such a great show or because it really connected with great swaths of the queer experience...The L Word was all we had." -Grace Perry

Media had yet to be able to show the nuanced look at sexual preferences and gender fluidity and it showed. Author Grace Perry shares a look at 2000s pop culture and how it related to both her experience and the world around her. This was a quick and fascinating read and it was both a trip down memory lane (MTV Real World anyone?) and also a better look at the trauma media had on the LGPTQ+ population, especially those that were coming of age at that time.
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This book will appeal to a very specific age group of pop culture devotees, and I am very much in this age group, so I enjoyed it a lot! Definitely something I will recommend to friends.
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