Ryan Shea's picture

Opinion: Why the Spice Girls Were a Huge Influence for Many Gay Kids Like Me

When word got out that The Spice Girls were reuniting FINALLY for an upcoming tour (allegedly, contracts still haven't been signed) in the states and across the pond, naturally I got overtly excited over this incredible news. 

As a kid of the 90's, who pretty much started buying tapes (remember those?) and CD's (REMEMBER THOSE?) when I was 8 or 9 years old, The Spice Girls came around in a time where I was truly debating what my sexuality was.

I knew, from a very young age, that I was unlike the other boys at my school.  I definitely knew that I liked other guys, but wasn't sure yet that all of this was an eventual sleigh ride into homosexuality.  I didn't even know what the word "gay" was until I was around 9 years old, coincidentally when The Spice Girls started coming onto the scene.

I know a lot of gay men have their "gay icons."  To me, what a gay icon is represents someone that you grew up with that helped you identify as your true self, regardless of whatever that is.  For some it was Barbra, for others it was Madonna, and for me, it was The Spice Girls.  The funny thing is, when all five of the girls were together, there was really no type of outward support for the LGBT community from them, however there were subtle approaches that they took that helped this guy embrace who he was and didn't shy away from it.

Something that they did, which other girl groups have tried to no avail for the most part, is that they sort of had an IDGAF mentality about what people thought about them.  Each girl represented something different that many of us could look up to, yet when all five of them came together it represented a power that was simply out of this world amazing.  The kids today really will never understand just how enormous this group was, and whereas current girl groups try to resonate on the same level as they did, it just doesn't add up comparatively.

The Spice Girls were all about "girl power" and empowering and influencing girls of all ages to be their true selves, regardless of what society thought about them.  That thought process triggered for me, and many other gay boys around my age, to do the same.  It's crazy that all of this intertwined, and they may not have realized what they did, but in part, they helped me come out of the closet when I was only 14 years old. 

Over twenty years later, I still listen to their music on the daily.  It's incredible that they only had a handful of albums, yet their songs spoke words to me on many different emotional levels that still tug at my heartstrings all this time later.  I have considered getting a tattoo for my late mother using lyrics from the song "Viva Forever" to exemplify how her memory will never be lost in my mind and in my soul.  On the flip side, if I ever wanted to throw a 90's party, you better believe that songs like "Who Do You Think You Are?", "Wannabe", "Spice Up Your Life" and of course "2 Become 1" will be on repeat throughout the night.

For me, The Spice Girls evoke happy memories and ones that were crucial in order for me to be the man I am today.  I may never meet any of them in my lifetime (fingers crossed that isn't true), but for Geri, Mel B., Mel C., Victoria and Emma... thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an influence on my life and for unapologetically being you throughout it all. "Viva Forever"... indeed.