The 1990s was a murky period for visibility of the gay man. You couldn’t throw a clog without hitting a lesbian thanks to Sharon Stone and the country’s innate enjoyment of girl on girl action. RuPaul and To Wong Foo... moved mountains for the drag community, but if you wanted to see two men living happily ever after, you were shit out of luck.
We gay kids of the '90s did have the Bravo network to keep us warm. I owe my sexual awakening to Bravo for their repeated airings of My Own Private Idaho (not to mention the hours of Twin Peaks reruns, Sondheim musicals and SRO Patti LuPone concerts). There was gay representation in My So Called Life, the short-lived ABC series that featured an art fag named Rickie Vasquez. Call me “self-hating” all you want, but I couldn’t relate to an effeminate, heavyset blatino who wore heavy eyemakeup to physics class (no disrespect to Wilson Cruz, he’s lovely). Rickie Vasquez was everything I didn’t want to be. Gender identity and homosexuality are two entirely different continents. I didn’t want to be a girl. I wanted to be a gay vampire – or at least Michael Stipe.
I was the kid going to Julianna Hatfield/Jeff Buckley concerts with my best girls. I was the kid spending my lunch hours in the darkroom developing pictures and listening to my walkman. I wore vintage suspenders with Gap pants and tucked my hair behind my ears when I was just too overcome. I was the gay kid from Fear (1996).
Without Gay Gary and Marky Mark, Fear would be just another Lifetime made-for-TV movie about a teenage girl in peril learning to love her dad. I'm still alive today because, unlike Gary, I knew when to stay out of my girlfriend’s business! If my girl was hauling her friends across town to get finger banged by some guy from southie, I said I had “rehearsal.” Let this be a lesson, boys. Take care of yourselves! She’ll keep going back to him and you’ll wind up dead in the woods someplace like Brandon Teena.
(Horror Nerd Alert: Gary is played by Todd Caldecott who was shirtless and speared through the chest in the beginning of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Holla!)