Published during Pride Month in 2021, The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry is a laugh out loud essay collection that details various pop culture references and describes how they attributed to Perry’s gay awakening. Prior to picking this book up at the Feminist Book Club Holiday Market, I had seen many positive reviews of Perry’s essay collection and let’s be real, the title also caught my eye.
CW: Cancer, homophobia, transphobia
About the Book
Grace Perry begins the book by describing the escapism she finds in television and the stories that were told throughout the 2000s. Perry focusses on escapism throughout the essay collection because her brother, and mentor in life, was diagnosed with a cancer that would end up taking his life. With this in mind, during Perry’s reckoning with her brothers treatment and her eventual loss, Perry found solace in the shows that she grew up watching. However, as she was reflecting on the shows she enjoyed as a teen and a college student, she began to realize that they played a great part of her queer awakening that would eventually lead her to be who she is today.
A self described midwestern and Millennial, Grace Perry writes about a variety topics for The Onion and Reductress, but in The 2000s Made Me Gay, Perry writes 12 different essays ranging from topics such as Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl song to Disney Channel Original movies to The L Word. Considering the wide range of topics covered, Perry’s essay collection has a little bit of something for everyone and I highly recommend listening to Perry’s book as an audiobook because the author reads it herself which makes her smart comments even more entertaining.
Listening to The 2000s Made Me Gay as an audiobook was a very enjoyable experience as the witty essays were quick and highly relatable as a queer woman myself. That being said, I am right on the cusp of being a part of the Millennial and Gen Z generations and although I am eight years younger than Perry, I still found the essays highly relatable. Perry details throughout her essays that she grew up in a time when there was little to no queer representation in the media and describes how Glee would have been ground breaking when she was in high school. Considering this, I went through high school while Glee was in production yet I was just as amazed as Perry was by any little queer representation in the media.
Perry writes some very relatable essays, my favorites being “Disney Channel Presents: Sapphic Overtones” and “The Glee Bubble.” Perry’s analysis of Cadet Kelly and the immense sapphic tension between Hillary Duff and Christy Carlson Romano is something I never knew I needed but highly appreciate having heard in my life. Perry brings up some great points about how truly gay Cadet Kelly is rainbow blanket and hair in all. I’m not sure if you have seen this Hillary Duff classic recently, but be sure to give it a viewing with your gay lens ready.
Where it Could Improve
That being said, Perry’s book does fall short in many moments. Understanding that this essay collection is autobiographical, it is not surprising that Perry’s analysis of pop culture references from the 2000s are very white washed. That being said, I think that Perry could have done better to analyze how the few and far between queer references that were around in the early 2000s were that of white characters and white artists and that privilege she had compared to those who belong to the queer BIPOC community of the same time. Likewise, in the essay “Harry Potter and the Half-Assed Gay Character,” Perry spends most of the chapter writing about how J.K. Rowling fell short of the inclusion of a queer character with Albus Dumbledore and his after thought queerness, instead of J.K. Rowling’s greatest failing by being an outright opponent to transgender rights. I am not going to give J.K. Rowling anymore of my time in this post, however, I believe that if Perry chose to include an entire essay about Rowling’s most famous work, that she should have provided more context about how horrible Rowling has been to the transgender community which is a very important part of the queer community.
With all of this in mind, The 2000s Made Me Gay was enjoyable and had some highly relatable moments as I am a white queer woman, however, this essay collection was not an intersectional read which I would have loved to see.
If you have read The 2000s Made Me Gay are your thoughts similar? Let me know in the comments!