Analyzing My Childhood Bedroom Posters As A Profoundly Gay Woman

Who and what we allow on the walls of our bedrooms can be an intimate look at our psyches. As adults, what’s typically depicted on our bedroom walls are our passions and desires after passing through a series of societal filters, so let’s call them our superego. Then there’s our childhood bedrooms. These would be our id, or primal state of being. Because as children what often passes as perfectly acceptable decor are enlarged portraits of cherished celebrities that are watching us sleep. That checks out as a child. Yes, the giant face of a stranger that greets me every morning, what about it?

Our childhood bedrooms are our subconsciouses wilding out. What we want and who we are at our core, hiding in plain sight. It’s adorable, but it’s also tragic/hilarious when you consider how many of us were not so subtly trying (and failing) to tell ourselves, “HEY BOOBOO YOU’RE GAY.”

Come with me, readers, and let’s consider together how the posters that hung in my childhood bedroom were trying to tell me just that.


Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm, former face of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. Eee-yeah. The only consolation here is that I didn’t have Brandi Chastain’s shirtless celebration on my wall. I’m trying to figure out if it was gayer that I also played soccer, or if it would have been gayer if I didn’t play soccer but felt connected to this poster anyway.


Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos was a goalkeeper for Mexico in the 90s and was famous for his brightly-colored, heavily-patterned kits. He had style. He popped his collar. There was argyle. It makes sense that I would allow space for him on my wall, because what I’m describing here is a gay man summering in the Hamptons. The dude was a walking, blocking rainbow flag.


Andrew Keegan

At one point I became aware that the boys my cousins and friends fawned over were absent on my walls. Welcome Andrew Keegan, star of Camp Nowhere. I remember getting this out of a magazine and thinking matter-of-factly, “This is an appropriate item for a young girl’s room.” There was another poster where Andrew “wore” a button-up so undone and thrown to the sides that he was practically shirtless, and that was entirely too much. Button up, mister! But also, look at this pretty face and this hair and this jewelry. We’re a leather bracelet away from a bonafide lesbian.


Friends

Ah, yes, Chandler Bing, every little girl’s dream. For sure the reason this hung above my bed.


The Yin-Yang Symbol

Somewhere right now a lesbian collective has “balance” and “harmony” in their bulleted presentation on conflict management and deescalation.


Spice Girls

Here’s an incredible thing: It bothered me that Geri (my favorite) ((“I just like her style.”)) was partially hidden on this poster, but I reconciled this injustice by making sure the doll version of her had a prominent spot on my vanity. Girl power!!


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Writer by way of GA/PDX/MPLS/NASHVILLE. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 154 articles for us.

108 Comments

  1. I had a poster of Tiger Woods, for the same “this is an acceptable sportsball celebrity to hang in a girl’s bedroom” reason. Other than that, my walls were covered with Ansel Adams prints because I am a nature queer. Oh! I also had one of those giant posters showing all of the flora/fauna of my region.

    • I am now in time out for spontaneously singing and dancing at work. Glad they stopped me before I got on the desk – don’t need that embarrassment again.

      Also, I try to tell myself it’s not strange that Spice World is still in the CD binder in my front seat… but then I remember CDs were so yesterday.

  2. – Marvin the Martian x 2 (always the eclectic outsider)

    – Psychedelic peace symbol with ‘PEACE’ written below for emphasis (total hippie)

    – Albert Einstein B&W, the one where he’s sticking his tongue out, purchased at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, on the back of my door (total nerd; also, tongues are great)

    Plus, collages. So. Many. Collages. Mostly of anything 60s or Austin Powers related.

  3. This is magnificent. I had too many posters of Devon Sawa in his Wild America days and Nick Carter. Apparently I had a thing for blonde, short haired lesbians when I was 11. And one million Spice Girls posters, but mostly for Baby Spice (also blonde.. did I have a type?).

  4. This is so relatable. My childhood bedroom contained what my parents lovingly referred to as a “shrine to Hilary Duff”. I had multiple full sized, framed posters as well as several (we’re talking at least 10) of those magazine sized Tiger Beat ones lining the preminter of my room. I found out years later that it was my family’s first clue into my budding sexuality, before it was briefly replaced with several posters of Dylan and Cole Sprouse when I hit about 13. Those two definitely also looked like tiny lesbians at the time — go figure!!

  5. Ah, yes…remembering the carefully curated “Women of Buffy”, Seattle Storm, and Kate Winslet shrines above my bed (with thoughtlessly scattered shirtless dudes on the wall behind my door to throw off the scent of just being like the most obviously gay kid ever).

  6. I remember carefully constructing shrines to famous men on my wall with pictures printed off the internet (they all took 3 hours to load) so it would throw others off the scent of the gay. Sure enough, when I came out, one of my mother’s first questions was ‘but what about that picture of Leonardo DiCaprio!?’

  7. When I began cutting pictures out of magazines around age 11 it was mostly The X-Files, Star Trek Voyager, and the VHS cover photo of Fried Green Tomatoes. I can’t remember much else except that I thought I should also have some conventional male celebs like Brad Pitt (he didn’t last long). Once hit my teens and started to figure out my sexuality, my bedroom was lined with Spice Girls and Xena posters, plus whatever female celebrity had my interests at the time (Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Winslet, Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly). I also had a ton of WNBA stuff and the iconic photo of Brandi Chastain after her winning goal. I was so gay…

  8. My mum was surprised when I came out. Here are the posters I had that prove she shouldn’t have been:
    – Lucy Lawless
    – Renée O’Connor
    – Carrie-Anne Moss
    – Gillian Anderson
    – Angelina Jolie

    Now, to be fair, the Carrie-Anne Moss one was a Matrix poster and had Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne on it too, but the scales really do tip in only one direction.

  9. Ok so at some point I realized that this was a thing people did! But I never ever understood the practice of hanging any crush up on a poster in one’s room because then your parents and everyone would know! And how embarrassing! It would be like a great big open window to your heart! The heart I was guarding with every ounce of energy!

    Anyway, lolol @ Andrew Keegan. Ahhh the 90s.

    • Yeah me neither up on the wall. I remember hearing a teenage boy I knew had a poster of the spice girls on his wall & thinking ‘that’s odd for a boy’ (I was about nine, crushes weren’t a thing yet, just wanting to be someone).
      Then when I got to be teenage I stored them in my bed. I once went to America and got a magazine w lots of pictures of teens a bit older than me in it. I cut out all the ones I found attractive to figure out if I liked guys or girls by tallying them up…
      Someone should have just told me that being pan was a thing.

      • To be fair Carmen, my stepdad put pictures made by the pre-raphaelites all over living room. So I probably didn’t want to think of people ‘aesthetically’ enjoying rude pictures on walls in that way…
        I remember my girlfriend came to visit and she couldn’t stop giggling because we were eating dinner and there was a painting of a topless woman directly above us.

  10. I feel like this exercise will result in a communal list of various boy teen heart-throbs who are essentially gateways to gayhood.

    Personally, I never had any pictures of people on my wall, I was more into really bad fantasy/sci-fi scenes. This ties in very well with my youthful sexuality realisation via making up fantasy/sci-fi stories in my head where all the characters just happened to be lesbians.

  11. I’m pretty sure my closeted ex-gf still has a poster of Mia Hamm up in her room. As a child in my room I had a Britney Spears poster of course, and several NSYNC posters with gel pen hearts drawn around Justin because I knew he would be the breakout star. In high school I was on the “stick anything and everyone you ever make, receive, or find on your wall” train, which I think is pretty alternative/gay.

  12. I never hung posters because i could not bring myself to buy “teen beat”, however, in highschool I insisted on a subscription to national geographic, and I hung up every map they sent

    Also i would gut my sketchbooks and hang up every page once completed

    I lived in a giant collage of pictures I drew (or painted) when I was supposed to be learning something else in class

  13. Football posters because it’s me so obviously. Someone from west life (can’t remember name just face lol) who turned out to be gay (my dad made the picture out of pastels :)). My own artwork of the woman I was devoted to… (because it’s me again lol)
    On the door was ‘Liams room, enter at your own peril’ with a picture of a knight on it.
    Oh and I don’t think my mum knows this but in my bed was a two page spread taken from a newspaper of 20 years of Pamela Anderson playboy photo shoots …

  14. One of the reasons it took me so long to figure myself out is because I did genuinely have long and intense infatuations with guys (e.g. my teenage walls were plastered with Cory Haim posters), but in retrospect they were all relatively delicate-featured and slender. I clearly remember announcing to people that I had no interest in “beefcakes” with lots of body hair.

    The other thing I had a lot of was tiger posters / plush toys, because that’s a totally typical favourite animal for a young girl to have.

    • oh, dude crushes for people who will grow up to not really be much into dudes is a real thing! i had all the same kinds of crushes my friends did, and they were not fake.

      i just had other more intense ones i didn’t know how to understand yet, as well.

      so funnnnnn*

      *being a teenager is not fun

      • Oh yes, I had the other intense kind too. I spent so much time staring transfixed at pretty girls in my classes, thinking about how much I wished I could be “friends” with them because they were so “cool”, meanwhile being unable to talk to any of them without stuttering and blushing and being the literal most awkward person on the planet.

        Fun fun fun. :/

    • Ah, yes, the good ol’ “I just like boys who don’t look masculine!” (whatever that means lmao)

      I had no idea that my infatuation with Legolas and guys from visual kei bands was, in fact, maybe a sign I liked girls. Didn’t even consider it, because I was soooo straight and in love with everybody in The GazettE. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      I also loved me some cheetahs as a kid, so maybe loving big cats is a lesbian thing?

  15. My few childhood and teen posters were exclusively of Michael Jackson (Thriller through Dangerous era), and wolves superimposed over starry night skies. Michael Jackson taught me everything I knew about gender, as a girl who desperately wanted to be a boy until half way through puberty, and that’s a scary thought that probably says a lot about me.

    Briefly in 6th grade, I had a 3T poster because a classmate insisted that I must have a favourite boy band and picking one no one else in my year listened to meant that I could get away with knowing nothing about boy bands.

  16. Geri was my favorite too, and at the time I really thought that the reason I collected pictures of her and obsessively watched every Spice Girls video a million times was that I liked her style. I mean, I did! But maybe it wasn’t just that, baby gay me.

  17. I’m cracking up because when I was in my early 20’s in college, I wore a lot of Abercrombie and Fitch, so I would cut up the shopping bags with the hot dudes on them and plaster my dorm wall. I didnt honestly confront my sexuality until my late 20’s, and that was when Kim Stolz was on ANTM and I went.. oh.. hello.

    As an aside, thinking about A&F had me going to their site and they have a lot of button ups in their mens clearance for around $25 or less

    • See, I wore a lot of Structure, back before it turned into Express Men. That should probably have been an indication. (It certainly was to my mother, who made a point of telling me it was ok to be gay, to her credit.) In my defense, I found being bi very confusing. I don’t think I realized that was an option, so obviously I wasn’t queer, I liked boys. I just also liked girls and was maybe a little bit baby butch…

  18. My sister and I shared a room and OF COURSE we had a Mia Hamm poster, but when I got my own room I don’t know where the poster went and I would put it up in my room today tbh

    This makes me wonder how many girls have/had Abby Wambach posters up in their room

  19. I only ever had one poster as a teen/tween and it was of the Irish girl band, B*Witched. I was mildly obsessed with them and S Club 7 and for a time, Ricky Martin. I remember “liking” Jonathan Taylor Thomas but only because my best friend at the time loved ‘JTT’. I really didn’t.

  20. Loved these. I’m a bit older. I had a montage to Gabriela Sabatini, Martina Navratilova, and Zina Garrsion. If you were alive in the 80s and don’t remember Sabatini sweating in her white shirts, you should google. You’ll understand. I also had Larry Bird posters everywhere because I wanted to play in the NBA. GAYYYYYYY

  21. I don’t think I had posters up when I was a younger, so I feel like the odd queer out. Most of the posters I have had up was acquired in my late teens early 20s; in fact I still have two of them up(Jessica Alba Sin City movie poster, and Hebrew King Kong poster featuring Naomi Watts).

  22. So my actual childhood bedroom had zero posters whatsoever, while my bedroom in our vacation house (I know, I know, I also think it’s gross) had a poster of Selena Gomez and a poster of Taylor Swift, because I knew nobody would ever be in that room except for me and my parents. And when someone eventually did come over, I took down the posters and hid them in the closet (lol).

    Of course, I definitely only did this because I thought people would *think* I was a lesbian, and I *wasn’t* a lesbian, so I just didn’t want to give false impressions…

    Anyway, now my room in college has a bunch of posters, including one from Whip It and a giant, bigger-than-life-sized poster of Rey’s/Daisy Ridley’s face. What can I say? I’ve embraced the gay.

  23. Despite not being a fan of basketball, I was a devoted fan of the Portland Fire! The short lived WNBA team we had sometime around the late 90’s early ’00s. I had players cards and a t shirt I would wear for days and days on end. I actually still have the cards somewhere. I just really cared about this one team a lot then gave no fucks about basketball ever again.
    Now prominently featured on my wall are two large posters, one of Lucille Ball and one of Katharine Hepburn from Sylvia Scarlett (she’s wearing a suit). So like still pretty gay!

  24. My childhood walls were plastered with Hanson (long-haired and thin little things they were, I’d probably mistake them for teenage girls now) and the Spice Girls (Sporty Spice was my favorite… which really says all there is to know).

    Remember that scene in Spice World where they ask Geri if she likes boys and she says, “Is the Pope a Catholic?” and then the newspapers come out saying she’s questioning the Pope’s Catholic-ness? Somehow, I took that to mean she DIDN’T like boys (I guess because if we’re measuring the Pope’s level of Catholicism against Geri’s love of boys and she’s saying the Pope might not be Catholic, that would mean she must not like boys…? I don’t know, eleven-year-old me had cognitive “reasoning” abilities twenty-nine-year-old me will never understand). I remember being super excited about the “fact” that Geri didn’t like boys, but having no idea why.

    Later, I was also obsessed with N*Sync (Lance was my favorite there and we all know how THAT turned out). At that time we shared a house with a friend of my mom’s and her daughter, who was a couple years older than I was. She was super into the Backstreet Boys, so I decided I liked them too because she was older and cooler and I wanted her to like me and think I was cool.

  25. Oh boy. I had a Callisto (from Xena) poster that was on my bedroom wall from about the age of 8 until the end of college. I also had the Xena ALA Read poster up for a really long time and I still rue the day I lost an eBay auction for the Gabrielle Read poster and that was about 12 years ago.

    I also had a Legolas poster up when I was young. I guess the long hair did it for me. There were also some Spice Girls posters.

  26. 14 year old me was defined not by what was on the wall, but rather what wasn’t.

    While all the neighborhood boys would sneak their Mom’s Victoria Secret magazine to do god knows what with, porn or nudity didn’t have the same effect it did on my peers. I felt attracted, but it wasn’t the same, and I couldn’t describe or understand it at the time.

    If only I could have known, I wasn’t a boy attracted to girls, but a girl attracted to girls.

    While the typical “teenage boy” room was adorned in swimsuit model ceilings, fast cars, metal bands or the best – flaming skulls…. friends always gave me grief when coming into my super masculine lair:

    Not sure if I had more Spice Girls posters than Sailor Moon, but it was close. I also must have subconsciously wanted to escape this world, because I took old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons maps and plastered them everywhere, next to a topographical map of Alaska, and several star charts showing the night sky from cultures around the world. As I grew older I replaced the maps for local painting from farmers markets or Zen scroll calligraphy.

  27. I refused to put pictures of girls up on my wall because I didn’t want anyone in my household questioning my sexuality. And they would have. So there was a lot of pretending to like various male celebs in the hopes that maybe someday I could will myself to find them sexually attractive. Never really worked out.

    Someone mentioned having a poster of Callisto on their wall as a kid. I just to be obsessed with her and I’m still drawn to female characters much like her to this day. I wish I were that brave back then but my internalized homophobia was WAY too strong.

  28. I had the biggest crush ever on Jesse McCartney for a good couple of years around age 10 or 11, and let’s be honest, he looked like a lesbian that whole time. I plastered my walls with his posters from Tiger Beat and Pop Star magazine and attended the Radio Disney Jingle Jam where he performed when I was 11. That was my type for most of the years that I was “boy crazy” and also included Michael Moscovitz in the Princess Diaries movie. Um, lesbian who works in a car shop and plays in a band and sees you when you’re invisible? Sign me up.

    Side note, “JMac” (seriously) was one of my only boy crushes that wasn’t 99% performative. I distinctly remember being genuinely googly-eyed for him and then also writing in my diary that I liked a boy on my baseball team when I in fact did not, just in case anyone read my diary.

  29. Comic book pinups. Like, lots of them. And those “pinups” featured both male and female characters (usually mixed), mostly in the action scenes… but all the solos were women. Like Rogue or Taboo (thanks, Jim Lee). Other than that? One Smashing Pumpkins poster, feat. D’Arcy Wretzky and… uh, a succession of vintage pinup calendars. I think I had convinced myself that I was just super interested in female iconography as expressed in popular art before 1950.
    Yeah, that was it.

  30. Andrew Keegan later starred in A Midsummer Night’s Rave which was only slightly worse than the original. It also had Carrie Fisher and a flamboyant gay fairy drug dealer who mixed up natural “supplements” given to him by legendary reclusive party host O.B. John.

  31. I just took down the pages ripped from magazines in my childhood bedroom yesterday. They were literally all of women, the most prominently featured being Kate Upton, bc I am femme4femme4lyfe. I’m bi, but curiously there were no dudes I liked enough to feature? dunno…I’m still baffled my parents haven’t figured out that I like women tho lol

  32. After my preteen Disney phase (mostly Lion King and Pocahontas posters), I went full-on Sailor Moon. I mean, I loved the show (understatement), so it was logical, but Haruka (Uranus) and Michiru (Neptune)… *___* Total lesbian awakening thanks to those two. I even has a picture of them in my locker in high school. Couldn’t get over actual lesbian representation in animation. They even adopt a kid a raise her. I mean!

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