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From The Onion and Reductress contributor, this collection of essays is a hilarious nostalgic trip through beloved 2000s media, interweaving cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how a very straight decade forged a very queer woman "If you came of age at the intersection of Mean Girls and The L Word: Read this book.” ―Sarah Pappalardo, editor in chief and co- From The Onion and Reductress contributor, this collection of essays is a hilarious nostalgic trip through beloved 2000s media, interweaving cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how a very straight decade forged a very queer woman "If you came of age at the intersection of Mean Girls and The L Word: Read this book.” ―Sarah Pappalardo, editor in chief and co-founder of Reductress Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the teen cultural phenomena that the early aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her identity, and she came out on the other side, as she puts it, gay as hell. Join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the early 2000’s, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance―a time not so long ago, that people seem to forget.


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From The Onion and Reductress contributor, this collection of essays is a hilarious nostalgic trip through beloved 2000s media, interweaving cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how a very straight decade forged a very queer woman "If you came of age at the intersection of Mean Girls and The L Word: Read this book.” ―Sarah Pappalardo, editor in chief and co- From The Onion and Reductress contributor, this collection of essays is a hilarious nostalgic trip through beloved 2000s media, interweaving cultural criticism and personal narrative to examine how a very straight decade forged a very queer woman "If you came of age at the intersection of Mean Girls and The L Word: Read this book.” ―Sarah Pappalardo, editor in chief and co-founder of Reductress Today’s gay youth have dozens of queer peer heroes, both fictional and real, but Grace Perry did not have that luxury. Instead, she had to search for queerness in the teen cultural phenomena that the early aughts had to offer: in Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace, Gossip Girl, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” country-era Taylor Swift, and Seth Cohen jumping on a coffee cart. And, for better or worse, these touch points shaped her identity, and she came out on the other side, as she puts it, gay as hell. Join Grace on a journey back through the pop culture moments of the early 2000’s, before the cataclysmic shift in LGBTQ representation and acceptance―a time not so long ago, that people seem to forget.

30 review for The 2000s Made Me Gay: Essays on Pop Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Wow, this validated so many of my baby gay high school experiences and I REALLY enjoyed it. I am also now suddenly desperate to do an OC rewatch lmao

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    I'm an 'old soul' whose cultural upbringing was shaped as much by 1599 as 1999, but I realize frequently that my queer coming-of-age experience was distinctly millennial. Perry's essays on the cultural artifacts of the late 90s and 00s connected with me deeply, even as her examples come from a lesbian perspective. For Perry, the L-Word was a community building, monumental experience, despite all its flaws. For me, it was Brokeback Mountain. We both agree Glee was a big deal, even as neither of u I'm an 'old soul' whose cultural upbringing was shaped as much by 1599 as 1999, but I realize frequently that my queer coming-of-age experience was distinctly millennial. Perry's essays on the cultural artifacts of the late 90s and 00s connected with me deeply, even as her examples come from a lesbian perspective. For Perry, the L-Word was a community building, monumental experience, despite all its flaws. For me, it was Brokeback Mountain. We both agree Glee was a big deal, even as neither of us really cared for it. These essays are much more than a rehash of pop culture, though. It's a trip down memory lane in a self-discovery sense. Queer millennials grew up in a deeply homophobic society led by a Bush philosophy of "conversion therapy" and picketing Bible thumpers with the singular message that God hates us. I remember my mother warning me against voting for Obama because he only cared about Hope for "gay sickos." If that were true, he would have advocated for gay marriage much sooner. We might fault his slowness, but also remember that California, the most liberal state in the union, voted to reverse gay marriage the same year he was elected. Perry's reflections are rarely about politics though. There's a whole chapter on The Real World, "I Kissed a Girl" and Taylor Swift, plus musings over J.K. Rowling’s tweets. Also, should erotic Harry Potter fan fiction be considered canon? You know, all the important things that us 1989 babies talk about on a regular basis. Queer millennials have a unique perspective, having seen some of the best and worst of times. We're generally on board with "woke" viewpoints, but also remember a time when it was "revolutionary" simply for a gay character to appear on film. Even if that gay was reduced to comedy relief and ridiculed by the hetero stars, at least they existed! Back in 2010, I made a spreadsheet with every mainstream movie that featured a gay storyline or minor gay character, from talkies to present. Because that list was so short, I expanded to movies with a "gay theme" which might address gay issues without being overtly gay. For example, Happy Feet (2006). I haven't revisited this project because now, of course, the list would be far too long and require constant updates. I love that Perry examines how expectations for queer/minority characters are much higher now, with some forgiveness. For a millennial, it's possible to recognize that "I Kissed a Girl" is kinda anti-gay by today's standards, while at the same time understand that this silly song was a "big deal" for gay representation in 2008. Brokeback Mountain was a world-changing gay event in 2005, but I imagine most Gen Zers simply find it depressing. I suppose every generation feels like it is “transitioning” between the old and the new. These essays really showcase how popular art reflected and shaped our views, while paving the way for even more enlightened thoughts about representation. It’s great to read such thoughtful essays on such an understudied topic. Not essential reading for everyone, but if you’re a gay millennial—or want to understand a gay millennial—it doesn’t get much better than this!

  3. 4 out of 5

    josie

    simply baffled by how you write this book without a bend it like beckham essay!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Grace Perry was born the same year as me, 1989, so our pop culture references are the same - and while luckily I didn’t go 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 Grace Perry was born the same year as me, 1989, so our pop culture references are the same - and while luckily I didn’t go 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 of 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Holland

    The 2000s didn’t make me gay. As a GenX gay, it could be argued Madonna, Wham! and ‘My Two Dads’ made me gay. Perhaps I’m just self centered and obsessed but I mostly enjoyed this enlightening discussion of 00s pop culture and it’s impact on Perry’s life because it allowed me time to reflect on the pop culture that shaped my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    aviv

    I was excited for this book, but found it lackluster and confused as to who its audience was. If I were to answer instinctively, I would say that this is a good baby-gay book, with its narrative about Perry's queer adolescence/coming out and introductions to LGBT media/cultural touchstones/terms. However, it feels to me that for the majority of the time, she is writing to (likely already out) LGBT millennials, who, she should know, already understand these basics and are looking for new or inter I was excited for this book, but found it lackluster and confused as to who its audience was. If I were to answer instinctively, I would say that this is a good baby-gay book, with its narrative about Perry's queer adolescence/coming out and introductions to LGBT media/cultural touchstones/terms. However, it feels to me that for the majority of the time, she is writing to (likely already out) LGBT millennials, who, she should know, already understand these basics and are looking for new or interesting insights. The pieces of pop culture that each essay is based around act more as background noise and a framing device than I expected and would have liked. Balance between memoir and pop-culture-post-mortem was missing. The most moving chapter was "Banter Boys", where the central pop culture reference was broader and Perry was able to dive deeper into how the archetype influenced and acted as a frame of reference with her experience as a queer woman. It was the first chapter I had read where the essay felt complete and that memoir and pop culture take were balanced and complimentary. In general, it felt like speed reading someone's Medium project and I'm a bit annoyed I spent so much money on it, but at least my money went towards a fellow queer woman ig.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Troy Walker

    This was a quick and enjoyable audiobook full of aughts pop culture references and a lot of that awkward coming of age gayness felt hard from that era - super relatable - what’s not to love? 🌈

  8. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    As a “geriatric millennial” 🙄 myself, I felt a smidge too old for most of the pop culture phenomena covered here. Maybe it’s just differing tastes. I didn’t watch any of the shows except Dawson’s Creek. Pacey forever! But I digress. Perry’s astute observations relate pop culture to her own self-realization, and the broader societal picture in a thoughtful way. PS. I really hate the term “aughts” and it’s used a lot here.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nev

    Essay collections and memoirs where people discuss the different ways that pop culture impacted them and wider society are my catnip. I’m just one year younger than Grace Perry and so many of the things she wrote about 2000s pop culture hit so close to things that I felt growing up or have thought about in hindsight. This isn’t an exhaustive collection of all the LGBTQ+ representation that existed during this decade, but rather the pop culture that was important to her life growing up. So there Essay collections and memoirs where people discuss the different ways that pop culture impacted them and wider society are my catnip. I’m just one year younger than Grace Perry and so many of the things she wrote about 2000s pop culture hit so close to things that I felt growing up or have thought about in hindsight. This isn’t an exhaustive collection of all the LGBTQ+ representation that existed during this decade, but rather the pop culture that was important to her life growing up. So there are things covered here that weren’t part of my teenage years, but it was interesting to hear her opinions nonetheless. This also isn’t just strictly media criticism, it’s a lot about Grace’s personal stories of how these pieces of pop culture played into her life and how that impacted her coming out journey and general life as a teen and young adult. I had such a great time reading this book. From the discussions of sapphic overtones in Disney Channel Original Movies to The L Word to Mean Girls and how teen TV shows influence how young viewers think about virginity. I’d definitely recommend this book to people who were in their teens or 20s during the 2000s. But I also think for others it can do a lot to explain how pop culture impacted some millennials and their coming out and coming of age experiences.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Brown

    Many of these essays make arguments that I have made repeatedly. It felt so close to home and so much like me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Madison

    I found Perry a likeable essayist, but other than that I didn't really get much out of this collection. I'm about five years younger than the author, so while we have a lot of the same cultural touchstones, her takes mostly feel a little stale to me (why are older millennials so obsessed with Tina Fey?). There are definitely some funny and very relatable moments here--I definitely laughed at her jokes about Lex--but I just don't have a lot in common with an astrology-obsessed thirty-something. I found Perry a likeable essayist, but other than that I didn't really get much out of this collection. I'm about five years younger than the author, so while we have a lot of the same cultural touchstones, her takes mostly feel a little stale to me (why are older millennials so obsessed with Tina Fey?). There are definitely some funny and very relatable moments here--I definitely laughed at her jokes about Lex--but I just don't have a lot in common with an astrology-obsessed thirty-something.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steph Arizpe Strobel

    Dude…..LOL I’ll write a real review on this later after I recover from reading the phrases ‘aughts’ and ‘baby gay’ too many times ok here's the review and if the author reads this I am very sorry for my opinion but I'm still willing to give your other/future writing a chance :/ I was really excited for this book because I check every box that this book is meant for. Setting a high expectation was my mistake, so that's on me. That being said, how could a book be so fitting, so perfect, but miss the Dude…..LOL I’ll write a real review on this later after I recover from reading the phrases ‘aughts’ and ‘baby gay’ too many times ok here's the review and if the author reads this I am very sorry for my opinion but I'm still willing to give your other/future writing a chance :/ I was really excited for this book because I check every box that this book is meant for. Setting a high expectation was my mistake, so that's on me. That being said, how could a book be so fitting, so perfect, but miss the mark and end up being SO exclusionary? It felt like the book was written by the author, FOR the author, which isn’t really a bad thing, but it sucks for me as a reader. The other thing about this is that it just felt so all over the place; there were bits of memoir sprinkled in where it didn’t really make sense. I would have loved to have learned more about the author that could’ve maybe contextualized her social commentary a little better. It was so out of order that I didn’t feel like I was able to make any sort of connection with the author and that made me lose interest quickly. I also have a bone to pick with how often the word ‘aughts’ and the phrase ‘baby gay’ was thrown around, but I can probably forgive that. I had a great childhood, but maybe I wasn’t privileged enough to understand this one – I grew up without cable until I was like 8ish, and even when we had it we never had what was considered premium channels like MTV or whatever channel The L Word and Gossip Girl comes on. I never watched Glee or Dawson’s Creek, never cared about Taylor Swift, and I Kissed a Girl never sent me spiraling into a bisexual existential crisis. The author writes a LOT about all of these, just FYI. At one point she even says, ‘For queer millennial women, The L Word is our Star Wars’...I think tf NOT! I’m aware of how incredibly salty this makes me sound, but I did just fine without those things -- it just seems like unless you check those boxes, you’re not gonna get much out of this book. Maybe for the above reasons, I never grew up seeking representation in media in the same way the author thirsted for. But also, I’m not white, and my racial identity became obvious to me way sooner than my gender or sexuality identity, so instead of scouring the TV for gay white girls, I just wanted to see a brown girl on the screen for once (I finally got what I wanted when Gotta Kick It Up! debuted on the Disney Channel with America Ferrera when I was 9, lol). The highlighted essay that I mostly really liked was the American Bitch/American Butch essay, and I liked the Mean Girls and Harry Potter essays to an extent (at some point both essays just turned into rambling) but everything else felt like it was an inside joke I was absolutely not allowed in on. I also felt like the author spent too much time clinging to gay/lesbian stereotypes and it stopped being funny (we don't need to be joked at for the 10th time about how you were obviously gay because you wore turtlenecks and corduroys). And then she spent so much time playing on stereotypes just to denounce the one gay girl stereotype that I actually think is really funny -- the U Haul Lesbian. Idk. Maybe this will resonate more with you. I think you ‘aught’ to find that out for yourself. Glad this one was a library book because it’s going back ASAP!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    the essays revolved around highly specific pop culture moments, so my enjoyment of each one was dependant on whether i had seen that particular piece of media, so a lot of them fell a bit flat for me. i also wish the author had integrated a bit more of her personal life into the essays as i found that when she did it was very engaging. to absolutely nobody’s surprise, my favourite essays were the ones based on harry potter, disney, taylor swift, and glee.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Semler

    Such a fun and fast read. Perry is hilarious and her honesty about the interactions with pop culture and media were so relatable. She talks about “the deep closet” when you’re not even out to yourself, and the experiences she shared about debating her sexuality internally were so, so on point for me. She noted how it’s easy to blame religion for a lot of internalized homophobia (like her, I was raised heavy duty Catholic), but that we can’t let pop culture off the hook. So many of the shows, mus Such a fun and fast read. Perry is hilarious and her honesty about the interactions with pop culture and media were so relatable. She talks about “the deep closet” when you’re not even out to yourself, and the experiences she shared about debating her sexuality internally were so, so on point for me. She noted how it’s easy to blame religion for a lot of internalized homophobia (like her, I was raised heavy duty Catholic), but that we can’t let pop culture off the hook. So many of the shows, music and movies, even ones we treasure contributed to internalized homophobia, biphobia, and while that’s not an indictment of those works, it is great to study in terms of how queer folks coming of age in the aughts contextualized their identities. As a queer lady born in 1987 who consumed pop culture like sustenance, this was such an awesome book to read. I want to read more from this author!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Grace Perry is “Hella Gay”, and it’s all thanks to growing up in the 2000s; or, at least, it didn’t hurt. Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it! (Kind of). Dumbledore was outed! (Kind of). Taylor Swift sang about… well. You get the picture. So, there wasn’t great actual queer representation in popular culture when Grace Perry was growing up, but she was able to make do with interpreting what was obviously meant to be gay subtext and applying it to her own budding internalized homophobia, eventua Grace Perry is “Hella Gay”, and it’s all thanks to growing up in the 2000s; or, at least, it didn’t hurt. Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it! (Kind of). Dumbledore was outed! (Kind of). Taylor Swift sang about… well. You get the picture. So, there wasn’t great actual queer representation in popular culture when Grace Perry was growing up, but she was able to make do with interpreting what was obviously meant to be gay subtext and applying it to her own budding internalized homophobia, eventually breaking through into full-blown homosexuality. This collection of essays centers the popular culture from movies, to music, to TV shows, to memes, which informed Perry’s sexuality. In part, it’s also a memoir of growing up Catholic in the Midwest and coming to terms with an identity which wasn’t openly discussed, portrayed, or accepted in the way it is today. Full review at https://www.freshfruitmag.com/book-re...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    What I wrote on Facebook earlier today: I’m only about 33% done with The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry and I’m already certain it’s going to be one of my favorite reads of recent months. Grace and I are the same age, so most of her pop culture references are right up my alley, and although I didn’t grow up Catholic, I also relate strongly to her experiences with internalized homophobia. She does a good job of recognizing the problematic elements inherent in most of the media created in the 200 What I wrote on Facebook earlier today: I’m only about 33% done with The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry and I’m already certain it’s going to be one of my favorite reads of recent months. Grace and I are the same age, so most of her pop culture references are right up my alley, and although I didn’t grow up Catholic, I also relate strongly to her experiences with internalized homophobia. She does a good job of recognizing the problematic elements inherent in most of the media created in the 2000s, while also treating it with care and acknowledging the significance it had for her at the time she was first exposed to it. For better or worse, we’re all shaped by the things we watch, read, and listen to during our formative years, and this book takes an honest and compassionate look at those things in the context of a closeted gay teenager desperate for a way to make sense of her feelings and behaviors. Reading this book is also making me reflect fondly on my own teenage years and the relationships I had with my girl friends. It genuinely never occurred to me at the time to think of them as anything other than friendships, but while it’s true that many, if not most, teenage female friendships are a little codependent and closer than might be socially acceptable at other times, I do think there were some crushes sprinkled in there. I just didn’t have the language or the experience to name them, and acting on them was entirely unimaginable. Not only because I literally couldn’t imagine it for myself at that time, but also because I have no idea whether or not my feelings were ever reciprocated. I’ve never asked, and we definitely never discussed such things in high school. We just existed in this limbo of hugs and handholding and sleepovers and sharing secrets and loving each other, but, like, not in a gay way. Anyway, all this to say, The 2000s Made Me Gay is so far a delightful and nostalgic exploration written by a funny and insightful person and if you relate to anything I’ve rambled in this post, particularly if you were coming of age in the early to mid 2000s, you should probably read it. And a small update after finishing the whole book: I loved it. I’m sad it’s over, that I no longer get to exist in the world painted by Grace’s words. I would have read twice as many essays written by her. I almost, almost want to watch Glee now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nay Keppler

    DAMN did I need this book. As a heavily pop culture influenced teen/young adult, nearly every reference struck a very close cord with feelings I had growing up. I picked this book up for the commentary on DCOMs (“Get down here, cadet!”) and The L Word (from the book: “For queer, millennial women, The L Word is our Star Wars. It’s not that everyone’s a fan, but it’s just assumed that, when talking thirtysomething dyke to thirtysomething dyke, they’ll get what ‘The Chart’ means”) and stayed for Pe DAMN did I need this book. As a heavily pop culture influenced teen/young adult, nearly every reference struck a very close cord with feelings I had growing up. I picked this book up for the commentary on DCOMs (“Get down here, cadet!”) and The L Word (from the book: “For queer, millennial women, The L Word is our Star Wars. It’s not that everyone’s a fan, but it’s just assumed that, when talking thirtysomething dyke to thirtysomething dyke, they’ll get what ‘The Chart’ means”) and stayed for Perry’s beautifully crafted, intensely relatable personal stories of realizing she was gay and then coming out. Of note: The chapter that, to my surprise, stuck with me the most was about Mean Girls. I did not realize until reading this chapter how much the character Janis Ian impacted me. She was made fun of and not invited to sleepovers or pool parties because she was rumored to be a lesbian. At the end of the movie, she and Kevin Kapoor hook up so you know, THANK GOODNESS! she’s not gay! This movie came out right around the time I was coming to terms with being gay, and this chapter made me realize why it made me so insecure. “I might’ve believed, intellectually, that being gay was fine. But homophobia seeped into my bones and stuck there, invisible and gross, for years. I still find gobs of it in my marrow to this day.” Anyway, read this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    I felt equal parts exposed and validated by this book 😂

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dani

    I didn't know how much I needed a book like this lol it was hilarious, insightful, nostalgic, and kind of weirdly therapeutic! I laughed out loud many times. What an education and a pleasure to read! I didn't know how much I needed a book like this lol it was hilarious, insightful, nostalgic, and kind of weirdly therapeutic! I laughed out loud many times. What an education and a pleasure to read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    hailey

    i got interested in the first few chapters because i could understand and relate to what the author was writing about. however as the essays went on, i became uncomfortable and confused. that being with how she went through life before coming out. to each their own. it’s just in the end the book didn’t resonate with me. and i think that’s what it’s about. some might relate and understand and others might not. and that’s okay.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    With hilarious takes on 2000s pop culture and experiences that are universal for any millennial, this was one of the most relatable pieces of queer nonfiction I've ever come across With hilarious takes on 2000s pop culture and experiences that are universal for any millennial, this was one of the most relatable pieces of queer nonfiction I've ever come across

  22. 4 out of 5

    Em

    a hilarious, insightful, comforting, & queer-as-heck read. f***ing excellent!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book was an EDUCATION! I must confess that one of the main reasons I wanted to read was because I am currently knee deep in an OC rewatch and saw it’s discussed in here so immediately thought YAY let’s go DEEPER. I came for the pop culture I obsessed over growing up, and stayed for the incredible, thoroughly researched, funny, heartfelt, eye-opening essays that launched me right back to the 2000s as this book proceeded to expose and suck out all of that era’s internalized homophobia like a This book was an EDUCATION! I must confess that one of the main reasons I wanted to read was because I am currently knee deep in an OC rewatch and saw it’s discussed in here so immediately thought YAY let’s go DEEPER. I came for the pop culture I obsessed over growing up, and stayed for the incredible, thoroughly researched, funny, heartfelt, eye-opening essays that launched me right back to the 2000s as this book proceeded to expose and suck out all of that era’s internalized homophobia like a vacuum, all through the lens of pop culture, my favourite educational tool. It felt entirely wise and entirely cleansing. All this to say: thank you, Grace Perry! This book is a gift! And whether you identify as queer or not, if you grew up in this era, wildly relatable on so many counts. Best yet, the essays aren’t focused on shaming those old shows or music, but more so about acknowledging how much we loved them and how enormously they shaped us (for better or for worse) so don’t worry, the nostalgia isn’t just there to make you cringe (well, not entirely). Highly recommend!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carson H

    I mean this could not have been more precisely targeted at me (queer girl born in 1986 raised in Chicagoland, giant Reductress fan, etc). Reading it felt like sitting at a coffee shop with another queer friend, quipping about shared traumas. Grace’s take on Mean Girls isn’t quite mine, nor is her take on Taylor Swift, but I loooooved reading her perspective. I hope she writes a volume 2.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This is a great dive into how pop culture evolved to include lgbtq characters and themes, parallel to the author’s journey with their queer identity as a tween and adolescent. I’m nine years older than the author but I’m technically still a millennial and I related strongly to these essays (even if I never watched the OC). It is a book about how the media you consume teaches you things about yourself and about how society perceives you, for better or for worse. There is a chapter about Katy Perr This is a great dive into how pop culture evolved to include lgbtq characters and themes, parallel to the author’s journey with their queer identity as a tween and adolescent. I’m nine years older than the author but I’m technically still a millennial and I related strongly to these essays (even if I never watched the OC). It is a book about how the media you consume teaches you things about yourself and about how society perceives you, for better or for worse. There is a chapter about Katy Perry and I Kissed a Girl that hit me in a particular way; the author talks about being a teen and hearing the song and how it set her self acceptance back a few steps. I have a very strong memory related to this song myself: I was teaching middle school when the song was popular and one day my seventh graders and I got into a serious discussion about the song. I vehemently condemned the song and insisted that no one should feel like kissing girls was something they needed to feel ashamed about, or that it was risqué or something only to do as a joke; which led to further discussion about what is normal and acceptable and whether normal was something we all even want to be. The following year several girls in that class came out to me. Reading Perry’s essay made me a little emotional; I know it wasn’t only that conversation that helped my students figure out their identities, but I’m glad I did my best to counteract any harmful messages that may have otherwise been communicated.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    Grace's debut novel is a fantastic read that anyone who is somewhere on the queer spectrum, or grew up in the 2000s, or even better both, will instantly connect with. Her incisive essays on big pop culture moments of this formative decade take you deep into her personal coming of age experiences while also capturing how these moments affected the psyche of queer millennials as a generation. Full of heart and funny as hell, this book will make you appreciate the confusion of growing up gay in the Grace's debut novel is a fantastic read that anyone who is somewhere on the queer spectrum, or grew up in the 2000s, or even better both, will instantly connect with. Her incisive essays on big pop culture moments of this formative decade take you deep into her personal coming of age experiences while also capturing how these moments affected the psyche of queer millennials as a generation. Full of heart and funny as hell, this book will make you appreciate the confusion of growing up gay in the particular media climate of the 2000s: an era of major growing pains that we can look back on with equal parts embarrassment and nostalgia. It was such a joy to get reacquainted with a very awkward time in my own life but also a great reminder of how far media representation for queer people has come since then and the very real difference that's made for subsequent generations trying to figure out their sexualities.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    More like 3.5 stars! Might round up instead of down at a later date because this is a "it's not you, it's me" sort of thing but we'll see. The reason for the rating is that this is definitely more of a memoir than I expected based on the summary... although the title should have been the tip off there, maybe. Or rather it's one of those essay collections that combines with memoir and historically I've very rarely vibed well with this particular genre. For me I end up feeling a bit lost in this t More like 3.5 stars! Might round up instead of down at a later date because this is a "it's not you, it's me" sort of thing but we'll see. The reason for the rating is that this is definitely more of a memoir than I expected based on the summary... although the title should have been the tip off there, maybe. Or rather it's one of those essay collections that combines with memoir and historically I've very rarely vibed well with this particular genre. For me I end up feeling a bit lost in this type of work unless the author throws a ton of data and historical context at me. Which isn't to say I didn't love parts of this book! Some sections were really incisive and insightful. I particularly loved the chapter on teen dramas presenting "the right way" to lose your virginity versus "the wrong way." There are already a lot of messed up moments surrounding teens and sex in early aughts drama, and it almost definitely felt messed up even if you were a straight teen. (One moment that sticks out in my mind is in Gilmore Girls when Lorelai overhears Rory saying she's still a virgin while talking to a friend who recently had sex for the firs time. And Lorelai proceeds to mouth "I've got the good kid." Like what in the world??) After 9/11, American culture definitely took a turn to the reactionary and I remember there being an obsession with abstinence only education. Of course it trickled into our pop culture. Unpacking all that while also unpacking my queer sexuality was definitely such A Thing for me, even though I was never really closeted to myself ever. There were many chapters like that that made me unpack all kinds of internal struggles and biases and general head fuckery I picked up from coming of age in the late nineties/early aughts. And for that I'm grateful to this book. The problem here, though, is that this book seems designed to inspire a lot of internal reflection if you're a queer person who grew up in this time frame. This meant that I responded strongly to the sections I related to... but I also bounced hard off the sections I didn't. One example of this is all the sections on the author grappling with the quote unquote queer aesthetic and trying to match it. I know intellectually that these parts were specific to the author only, but the structure of the book - the blending of personal anecdote with recent historical context - makes this sound like a universal experience. And it's... not necessarily? My struggles with aesthetic have definitely involved more trying to fit in to the dominant culture's expectations for women. I've worn flannel and plaid but never thought as much about it the way the author did. This brought up my perpetual "Oh No Am I Queer Enough?" thoughts that I've had ever since coming out to myself lol. It wasn't hugely upsetting or anything because like ... I'm old enough now that I can go "oh huh that was my teenage insecurity coming out again, cool" and generally naming the thoughts and letting them go. I don't think the author intended that at all. Which is why I say that my reaction is a "it's not you it's me" thing. It did make for a jarring read though, going from chapters I loved to chapters that made me go ????? All that navel gazing aside I'm still glad that this book exists! The early 2000s were quite a time to be a queer teenager and while a ton of progress has been made, there's no changing what was in the pop culture during such a formative time and how that might have influenced our psyches. P.S. The chapter on the L Word had me laughing out loud at many points. I had a tendency during finals at college to rent those DVDs from my college library and binge watch them. What a time to be alive.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Funk

    I greatly enjoyed this read - I just loved her sense of humour and writing style and I found myself laughing often at her phrasing. Since I'm pretty much the same age, I related to much of her pop culture upbringing and it was a good blast from the past. It was also really interesting to read of her experience coming out and how the lack of LGBTQA+ representation in media in the 90's and 00's affected her. I greatly enjoyed this read - I just loved her sense of humour and writing style and I found myself laughing often at her phrasing. Since I'm pretty much the same age, I related to much of her pop culture upbringing and it was a good blast from the past. It was also really interesting to read of her experience coming out and how the lack of LGBTQA+ representation in media in the 90's and 00's affected her.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    My feelings on this one are pretty mixed. I didn't find the more memoir-y parts all that interesting, which I should probably have expected, since memoirs as a whole are very hit-or-miss for me. But I really enjoyed the queer analyses of 2000s pop culture! As a whole, I'd still recommend it for the right reader. CW: sibling death (cancer), homophobia My feelings on this one are pretty mixed. I didn't find the more memoir-y parts all that interesting, which I should probably have expected, since memoirs as a whole are very hit-or-miss for me. But I really enjoyed the queer analyses of 2000s pop culture! As a whole, I'd still recommend it for the right reader. CW: sibling death (cancer), homophobia

  30. 4 out of 5

    olivia

    the 2000s made me gay is a series of essays about pop culture. though a very interesting read and talked about very serious topics in terms of what pop culture and the LGBTQIA + community. definitely interesting essays though out, but i was unable to connect with this book.

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