We love it when LGBTQ icons celebrate other LGBTQ icons.
Wilson Cruz and Harvey Guillén are the latest queer icons sharing love for one another and their work. Guillén is the star of supernatural comedy What We Do in the Shadows, and the latest episode of the show gave tribute to Cruz. In the episode, we see Guillén’s character Guillermo hanging a poster of the show My So-Called Life. Cruz, apparently, saw this scene and shared his surprise and joy on Twitter.
“I was so moved to see Harvey pull out that pic of the cast of #MySoCalledLife on this week’s episode,” Cruz wrote. “The POWER and reach of Rickie Vasquez is never lost on me.”
Harvey Guillén then responded to Cruz’s tweet by saying, “It’s the tribute… to the one who started it all.”
It’s the tribute .. to the one who started it all💗 https://t.co/5G3n72TNAJ
— Harvey Guillén (@HARVEYGUILLEN) August 19, 2022
“To all those who may feel alone in their journey: I want U to know I see U, I stand beside U in full support, and I love U as you are. The right people always will. Most importantly, I hope U know we need U here and that the world is a better place because you’re in it.”
— Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) August 19, 2022
And truly, Wilson’s Cruz’s My So-Called Life character was an iconic game-changer. Cruz’s character, Ricki Vasquez, came out on screen in 1994. Vasquez then became the first gay main character played by an out gay character in American television history.
On top of that, the character’s storyline of becoming homeless after coming out was a direct reflection of Cruz’s childhood. As he shared in 2012, Cruz came out to his family at 17 and was kicked out of his home.
“[My father] and I got into a bit of an argument on Christmas Eve,” Cruz said at the time. “He asked, I told, and he threw me out. I really didn’t have a money, or a place to live. I only had my car. So, that’s where I lived.”
So, when Cruz had to act out similar scenes in My So-Called Life, his past experiences helped his performance.
Cruz said it “was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life, because I still hadn’t dealt with issues with my father. Even though my parents and I had talked about it, I — on a personal level — hadn’t dealt with the emotions involved.
“So, replaying all that, I was allowed to get over it and go on. At the same time, it was a way of me to say to gay teens, look there’s someone out here that understands you and wants you to live,” he added. “To me, it was way a way of spreading some hope. That way Rickie wasn’t so depressing.”
Harvey Guillén also struggled in his youth, as he shared in a recent editorial for Esquire. Guillén shared that he struggled with societal expectations for young men.
“In traditional Mexican culture, having a boy means you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ve borne a son who will grow up quickly, learning the importance of hard work—most of that being manual labor”, Guillén writes. “The son will grow to be a ladies man, el hombre de la casa (man of the house), eventually finding a girlfriend while he plays sports in high school and begins to join his father on weekend jobs.”
He adds, “It would be shameful to your parents who have worked hard to raise you. The community would whisper in passing, saying, ‘probrecita, su hijo es gay’ (that poor mom, her son is gay), and although they are whispers, they’re heard in the highest decibel. The last thing I wanted was for my parents to be the talk of the town.”
But it was his mother that started to ease his pain. Guillén talked about a time when he was bullied and his mother taught him to live his truth.
“Panicked, she asked me what had happened. ‘Mijo, que paso!?’ she yelled. While still crying, I told her about the kids. I said they had called me mariposa over and over. I asked her to tell me what they meant; I couldn’t understand what had just happened. ‘Que importa lo que digan’ (who cares what they say) she said. ‘Mariposas are beautiful,’” Guillén writes.
Together, Wilson Cruz and Harvey Guillén are giving young queer latinos representation through their characters but also through their real lives. And that’s something we’ll celebrate every day!