An Ode to the Pink Motorola Razr, the Gayest Cell Phone That Ever Was

With a newly reimagined Razr coming out in 2020, it's time to reflect on this nostalgic piece of very queer gadgetry.

As a 12-year-old in suburban New York circa 2008, the only thing that mattered more to me than Tegan and Sara’s The Con was my first cell phone: the baby pink Motorola Razr.

Obtaining it was an arduous journey—by which I mean begging my parents for the model I wanted after I’d painstakingly convinced them that a phone was a necessity, not a luxury, took months. Finally holding that delightfully tacky, indestructible hunk of metal in my hands felt momentous, as if I’d been awarded a talisman to guard me in my journey through adolescence. This clunky, pocket-sized flip phone was mine—mine to text with, mine to call friends on, mine to deck out with charms and stickers like the hawt accessory it was. And, like most things I loved in my youth, I maintain that it played a part in making me the proudly queer adult I am today.

Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
The pink Motorola Razr in all of her early-aughts glory.

Motorola debuted V1 of the Razr mobile phone in 2004, years before I’d get my grubby hands on my first cell. It’s been touted as the device that originated and popularized the flip phone, which would go on to become a ubiquitous design choice among less pricey cell phone models. Mind you, the Razr was still the “it” phone of choice among hip youngsters during the proliferation of the Blackberry (beginning in 2006 or 2007) and the launch of Apple’s first iPhone (also in 2007, though it was widely viewed as a luxury item when it first hit the market).

Though the Razr never quite achieved the meme-worthy status of the Nokia 3310, as Gizmodo astutely pointed out earlier this year, in the mid-2000s, “it felt like everyone had one, and if you didn’t, you almost certainly knew a bunch of people that did.”

With its slender, distinctive design, the Razr was a pioneer—a fact Motorola knew well and even tried to use for social good. Not unlike Axe body spray, the Razr was an ally to the LGBTQ community, with a portion of proceeds from the red version of the phone benefitting the fight to end HIV/AIDS internationally as early as 2006.

Less woke, but also important: The OG Razr featured a front-facing camera that could capture both normal pictures and selfies. For context, this feature predated the iPhone’s first front-facing camera by six years—and popular use of the word “selfie” in the American English vernacular by almost a decade. Instagays, you listenin’? You might owe Motorola a thank-you.

As it turns out, I’m not the only LGBTQ adult who harbors vivid memories of this very early-aughts gadget. Portia, a queer woman, recalls her pink Razr fondly. It was her first phone with an unlimited texting plan, she tells NewNowNext, and she remembers “the hours I used to press each button a hundred times to get a sentence out.”

Marisa, who identifies as bisexual, remembers the pink Razr being the “token ’cool girl’ item” in the eighth grade. She speculates that the phone making an appearance on a Disney Channel show might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever the cause, it worked out in her favor: “Pink was my favorite color, and I desperately wanted to be a cool girl because they got to sit with the other cool girls—braiding each other’s hair while sharing snacks and secrets. Now that I’m out and looking back on it, it all makes sense.”

And Lisa, also a queer woman, loved the hot pink color because it stood out from other all-black cell phones. “It had big Elle Woods energy,” she tells NewNowNext, “and I was into it.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my pink Razr doubled as a tangible manifestation of the first time I felt the need to conform to my peers. The gadgets I owned prior to my Razr—my teal iPod Nano, the blue second-hand laptop I used to write posts on LiveJournal and Blogger—were all in “boy’s colors,” which I innately preferred. Being queer or bucking gender norms weren’t even blips on the radar of my consciousness yet; all I knew was that I secretly disliked pink, while the vast majority of girls in my small town brandished their pink accessories like swords, ready to defend their popularity and assert their femininity at a moment’s notice.

Somewhere along the line, my apathy toward fitting in morphed into anxiety, and getting that first cell phone—the right first cell phone—was of the utmost importance. I wouldn’t come to this conclusion until much later, when the combined fogs of teenage angst, peer pressure, and internalized homophobia had finally lifted. In the moment, my Razr was my prized possession, arguably the coolest and most valuable thing I’d ever owned.
 

That might be true in 2020, too. Last Thursday, Motorola (which, believe it or not, still makes cell phones and other gadgets) announced it would be introducing a reimagined Razr in the coming months. The new phone will be a flip-style smartphone (yes, you read that right) with specs that rival other contemporary smartphones on the market.

Available exclusively through Verizon at $1,499.99 USD a pop, it’s not cheap, but what it lacks in affordability it makes up for in nostalgia factor.

I just have one question for Motorola: Does the new Razr come in pink?

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella