10 Things Only Baby Dykes Of The ’90s Understand

We couldn’t handle watching “Bound” in front of our peers and we couldn’t understand why.

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I was a closeted, cute, Steve Madden platform wedge wearing, middle school attending, baby dyke in the ‘90s. I didn’t know I was one, but I certainly was one.

Sadly, I wasn’t old enough to have experienced the fabulous ’90s dyke scene firsthand (I’ll never forgive my mother for having me in the late ’80s, that bitch). Unlike my wife, I never got to go to the Clit Club or get a queer haircut at the notorious Astor Hair. I didn’t get to see Sister Spit live in San Francisco, and I wasn’t exposed to cool feminist lesbian erotica like On Our Backs magazine.

My only exposure to all things queer was through mainstream movies and strange magnetic pulls I had toward things I didn’t quite understand (like combat boots).

The ’90s, in general, were a pretty dykey decade. I mean, short-haired Winona Ryder was the most lusted-after woman in America! Flannel was all the rage! Girls with shaved heads freely roamed the streets!

But, see, no one talked to us middle schoolers about queerness, so I was just left baffled at my holy attraction toward all things bull dyke.

And while it was a confusing and isolating time; it was also amazing. I am super nostalgic for those simple days when I spent my free time taping Angelina Jolie posters to my locker without a care in the world. This was before I had to stress over complicated things like U-Hauling and Trump.

So to honor that brief yet wildly important moment in time, I’ve decided to come up with a list of things that ONLY we baby dykes of the ’90s viscerally understand.

1. The peculiar fascination with Dr. Marten Boots. 

Lesbians have a magnetic draw toward Dr. Marten boots.

 

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I got my first pair in the sixth grade, and they were hot pink patent leather. I didn’t know I was gay yet, but I did know that my burning desire toward Dr. Marten boots was bigger than me. It was out of my realm of control.

I grew up in a bitchy, preppy town and everyone teased me for ultra-shiny hot pink Doc Martens. I didn’t enjoy being teased, but I also couldn’t stop wearing the boots.

2. The consuming feelings of total alienation we experienced when worshipping Ani Difranco when your peers worshipped the Backstreet Boys.

I was in the seventh grade when I was first exposed to Ani Difranco. My friend’s “cool” cousin who bore a shaved head and had an (alleged) drug problem played me the song “Ego’s Like Hairdo’s” on cassette when I was 12, and I was instantly obsessed. That evening I made my dad take to me to the Sam Goody (RIP!) and buy me not one, but two Ani albums (“Living In Clip” and “Little Plastic Castles”). I could not stop listening to them. My friends listened to bullshit pop like N’Sync, and I couldn’t relate.

Because I was, clearly, a little dyke who connected with a folk-singing feminist punk who had her own record label with this dazzling dyke-friendly logo:

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3. Not understanding why we couldn’t handle watching Bound in front of our friends.

 

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Oh! The movie Bound f*cked me up! I was at a sleepover party when it came dancing across the TV screen, and I couldn’t handle watching the heat fire up between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon in front of my peers. It made them all giggle and spew out gay jokes; it made my cheeks turn red hot; it made a tingling sensation erupt through my entire body and made tiny beads of sweat work their way across my terrified gay little face.

I couldn’t ~wait~ to get home and watch it alone. MEOW.

4. Angelina Jolie made us feel things we’d never felt before. 

I had never seen swagger on a woman until I watched Girl, Interrupted (still my favorite all-time movie) and became full-blast obsessed with Angelina Jolie. She was such a cocky badass in that movie, and I didn’t even know that a woman was allowed to behave so recklessly (though the character was institutionalized, I suppose).

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All women who were baby dykes in the ’90s were besotted, turned on, and mesmerized with Jolie, amirite? She possessed that electric queer girl energy. And suddenly she starting blabbing to mainstream magazines that she was bisexual and had once had a passionate love affair with JENNY SHIMIZU, the hot model who modeled men’s underwear for Calvin motherf*cking Klein was also her costar in the cult-classic Foxfire. Which I immediately rented from my local Blockbuster.

And then I took it a step further. I rented Gia. (For the record, I very wisely made sure my parents were out to dinner that night.)

5.  Gia. Just Gia.  

 

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Gia rendered me gayer than Elton John. I watched Gia and suddenly flannel appeared over my eighth-grade body, a nose ring emerged out of my left nostril, and I was filled with a burning desire to move in with my best friend of three days. I even called the U-Haul company.

5. We thought Ellen and Anne were the coolest bitches on the block. 

I don’t care what anyone says. Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres were insanely cool.  They were the first mainstream lez couple that I ever saw, and they slayed the red carpet with their ever-muted ’90s color palette and edgy couture. (Also, please do yourself a favor and watch this amazing tribute video to them.)

You just knew that Anne Heche was an unpredictable wild card who drove Ellen DeGeneres nutty with her bizarre antics, but you also knew they had crazy, mind-blowing sex.

At least in my mind.

6. Shaved-headed women stole our youthful hearts. 

When my mom would take me to acting classes in the city (NYC, is there really another “city”? No. There isn’t.) I would see all these shaved-headed dykes stomping around the Lower East Side and just fall in love with every single one of them. I couldn’t wait until I grew up and could hang out with fierce shaved-headed lesbians!

And then I grew up, and that trend had been kicked to the gay fashion curb. It was replaced with the Justin Beiber haircut, and I was heartbroken. All I ever wanted was a shaved-headed dyke to call my own, and all I got was an emo dyke with side-swept platinum bangs. Not nearly as sexy.

 

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7. k.d. lang and Cindy Crawford on the cover of Vanity Fair made us weep rainbow-colored tears. 

I’m grateful to my mother for many reasons, but the most hard-hitting reason is this: She had a subscription to every single magazine. Including Vanity Fair. I wanted to be Cindy Crawford getting all coy with the babeliest babe k.d. lang.

I remember my mother picking up the magazine and declaring (in her extremely posh English accent) “If I was a lesbian, k.d. Lang would totally be my type, darling.” I remember thinking: “Yeah, I probably am a lesbian and k.d. lang is definitely my type, Mother darling.”

8. THE KISSING SCENE in Wild Things knocked our Steve Maddens off our Baby Dyke feet. 

Surely this scene was “problematic” as a dude filmed them making out for his toxic enjoyment, but lez be honest, baby. I didn’t even know what the word “problematic” existed in the sixth grade.

All I knew is that this scene knocked my Steve Madden thick-soled platforms right off my baby dyke foot, it was so damn sexy.

9. The KISSING SCENE in Cruel Intentions made us practice KISSING with our female friends. 

“Oh, let me teach you how to kiss!” is the gayest move a girl can pull. And I totally pulled it. I “practiced” kissing on my female friends after watching this movie, all the time. I should’ve known I would become a writer.

‘Cause I’ve always been willing to do ~anything~ in the name of research. Purr. (I’ll just leave you with this iconic scene, baby girl).


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