31 Ways the ’90s Made Us All Queer

How everyone's favorite decade churned out a generation of gays.

The source of sexual orientation is still a mystery to scientists and experts. Is it nature, nurture, or a mixture of both? As the debate rages on, we set out to find some answers of our own and after tens of minutes of exhaustive research, we discovered that it was, in fact, living through the ‘90s that made you gay.

“But how can that be?!” you ask. Well, don’t take our word for it. Strap on your fanny pack, and consider the following evidence of all the ways that everyone’s favorite decade turned you into the beautifully queer badass you are today.

  1. Nancy From The Craft

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    Nancy was every queer person’s proto-crazy ex. The only way you don’t have a Nancy in your dating history is if you are the Nancy.

  2. Plaid

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    Plaid shirts are a lot like Lance Bass—in that they both peaked in the ‘90s before finding a big gay fanbase in the early 2000s.

  3. Playing M.A.S.H.

    Remember spending way too much time obsessing over a crush who barely noticed you? You do, because you’re queer and you literally never stopped.

  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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    Obviously, Willow and Tara were the lesbian witches of your dreams, but the real intersection of queerness and Buffy is how much pressure we’re both under to constantly slay.

  5. Cafe Culture

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    In the ‘90s, adorable boutique coffee shops were super trendy, and like, totally the perfect place to bring a date to open mic night so they can hear your spoken word. Now, you’re a serial dater with a creative writing minor and an iced coffee addiction. Thanks, ‘90s culture!

  6. Tamagotchi and Furby

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    These were your first friends who demanded more emotional labor than they were worth. In the ‘90s, it was called playtime. Now, it’s called brunch.

  7. The Bodyguard Soundtrack

    Thanks to Whitney, we have queer classics like “I’ll Always Love You,” “I’m Every Woman,” and “Queen of the Night.” Without this soundtrack, drag queens would have much less to perform and Michelle Visage would have much less to talk about (Track 9).

  8. Origami Fortune Tellers

    These DIY divination tools set you on a lifelong path of tarot reading, sage wands, and barely surviving a Mercury retrograde.

  9. Kirby and Yoshi

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    They made swallowing look easy.

  10. Mulan

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    It’s not the drag in Mulan that makes it so queer. What makes the Disney classic and its eponymous heroine so relatable is the fact that we as a people really identify with trying to cut our own hair during an emotional breakdown.

  11. Riot Grrrl and Girl Power

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    Whether you were a rebel grrrl in combat boots or spicing up your life in impossibly tall platforms, the empowered female voices of the ‘90s taught you how to be the queer feminist you are today. But now that we’re older, we can all agree on one thing: Neither movement made enough space for women of color. Bloop.

  12. Bruce Bogtrotter From Matilda

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    The Trunchbull almost made the list because she’s clearly living that #DomTop life. But the real unsung queer hero of Matilda is Bruce. In an impressive act of resistance, this kid was able to piss off the evil principle by eating a giant cake with only will power and the emotional support of his friends—proving to LGBTQ kids the world over that the two most powerful motivators in life are love and spite.

  13. Murder, She Wrote

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    Being queer is a lot like being Jessica Fletcher: When there’s messy drama going down that has nothing to do with us, we both have the instinct to insert ourselves in the middle of it as quickly as possible.

  14. Carmen Sandiego

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    She’s a Latina super-genius who runs a non-violent resistance group that steals priceless artifacts from colonizing capitalist institutions. Plus, she wore a giant hat. If that isn’t #QueerGoals, then I don’t know what is.

  15. Ellen’s Coming Out

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    Ellen said, “Yep, I’m gay!” on the cover of Time magazine in 1997, and you said, “No way. Me too,” but quietly and only to yourself.

  16. Batman and Robin’s Nipples

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    Batman and Robin’s costumes in the 1997 film featured embossed latex nipples. Which means that director Joel Schumacher was trying to turn the whole world queer like a gay super-villain, or the original script featured a scene where Poison Ivy milked the caped crusaders.

  17. Snap Bracelets

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    Madonna’s Erotica might have given you a vocabulary beyond your years, but snap bracelets were your first real foray into fashionable BDSM play. Snap! Stings so nice.

  18. Getting Pictures Taken at the Mall

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    Before we had Tyra teaching us how to be supermodels, we had Brenda from the Sears Photo Center screaming at us to “give more eyebrow.” Smize on, baby. Smize on.

  19. Wishbone

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    Anyone who loved books and animals more than they loved their peers or parents were obsessed with Wishbone. In other words, all queer kids from the ‘90s were obsessed with Wishbone.

  20. Messenger Bags

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    There was a point in the ‘90s when suddenly straight dudes started carrying around giant purses, and little queer boys were all like, “Finally! All that practice in mom’s closet is about to pay off big time.”

  21. The Gromble From Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

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    Before RuPaul’s Drag Race, it was this legendary queen who taught you the daily benefits of a waist cincher and red pumps.

  22. The Planeteers From Captain Planet

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    Progressive green politics, an ethnically diverse cast, and gender-neutral fashion choices paired with superpowered accessories—did I just describe the Planeteers, or you and your friends? Both! Cause all y’all are queer AF.

  23. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Eyebrow

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    The Rock in his entirety is perfection, but the eyebrow? Damn. Every time it went up, so did we.

  24. The Rent Soundtrack

    Thank god for your Discman’s no-skip feature, because you performed some of your best choreography to “Out Tonight” while your parents thought you were studying.

  25. Clueless

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    Since 1995, you’ve desperately wished someone would call you a “cake boy” and you resent the fact it hasn’t happened yet. Ugh, as if!

  26. Bop-It

    Before we started to unlearn all the toxic bullshit we inherited from society, this game was the closest we ever came to being taught enthusiastic consent.

  27. Pokemon

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    An early predecessor to apps like Grindr and Her, this game showed us firsthand the disappointment of investing time into trying to catch a rare breed, only to have them ghost on you at the last minute.

  28. Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous

    Sweetie, darling. Sure, Patsy and Edina taught you about recreational drugs and throwing British shade, but it was Saffy that taught you the queerest lesson of all: how to be unwaveringly yourself while rocking a pair of mom jeans.

  29. Beanie Babies

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    You believed if you held onto them for long enough they’d mature in value. Sadly, that hasn’t panned out in terms of Beanie Babies or sex partners.

  30. Home Improvement

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    This insanely popular Tim Allen show focused a lot on tools, tits, and the hardships of being a straight white family man in the U.S. of A. It was honestly the straightest show ever created, and the only way for you to restore balance to the Universe was to become queer yourself.

  31. Xena: Warrior Princess

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    Complex butch/femme dynamics, juicy drama, and sometimes-iffy dialogue that you overlook because you’re so invested in the characters—swap Ancient Greece for Los Angeles, and Xena is just The L Word with swords.

Topher Cusumano is a full-time writer and part-time teen witch from Brooklyn. His work has been seen in SplitSider, Point in Case, Hornet Stories, and Marriott Traveler, and more.
@tophcus