Representation Matters but I Didn’t Expect Bottoms To Take It So Far for Me

There was no way I wasn’t going to see Bottoms. First off, I’ve been hopelessly devoted to Rachel Sennott since I saw her in Shiva Baby, about two girlfriends and three lesbian situationships ago (though I did originally see the film for Dianna Agron, to satisfy my teenage love affair with Quinn Fabray/mean blondes). Secondly, I will always take an opportunity to support a lesbian film, especially one set in the present day, without them navigating long yearning hallways by candlelight. Thirdly, dyke fight club? Oh, I’m in.

I wasn’t going to miss a woman-directed film starring Sennott and Ayo Edebiri, who are, dare I say it, the DeNiro and Pacino of our generation? But a surprising thing happened as more promotional materials were released — specifically, promotional materials with my goddamn face on them.

So, not really my face; it’s the face of Ruby Cruz, who plays the breakout role of Hazel, a well-meaning but not-so-bright companion to the main lesbian dirtbags of PJ (Sennott) and Josie (Edebiri). She’s located at the right-hand bottom of the pyramid on the poster, her cheek squished as it rests on her fist, her shaggy brown hair falling across her eyes, the sleeves of her red bomber jacket looking cozy and stylish. A few months ago, when the poster first dropped, I received a text from one of my friends of an up-close of Cruz’s face, with them saying something along the lines of, “Holy shit, I thought this was you.” I’ve had this happen with friends who’ve compared my face to Dakota Johnson’s, saying watching 50 Shades of Grey was uncomfortable for them because of the slight similarity (though perhaps not as uncomfortable as me being told this). But this was different — rather than vague “I can see it” similarity, I found myself actually scared as I looked at Cruz because, well, that’s my fucking face.

From the messy brown shag, down to the matching freckle in the same spot on the same cheek, I truly felt my identity had been stolen — or that I was about to be in a very contemporary, very queer(er) version of The Parent Trap. I immediately forwarded the picture to as many friends as possible, with all of them responding with similar shock over just how much the facial structure matched. When the trailer dropped, I was thrust into further confusion: the cadence of her voice, as well as the particular style of masculinity her fits had…had I blacked out and filmed a movie without realizing it? Had camera crews followed my every move and recreated a character study of a loser masc lesbian from it? Has AI truly gone Too Far? I’ve sent Emma Seligman a flurry of emails demanding compensation, and still no response.

When I went to see Bottoms, I truly couldn’t stop kicking my feet like an excited child whenever Hazel came onscreen (part of that is that I’m 5’3, and my feet wouldn’t touch the Alamo Drafthouse floor). There were so many scenes, specifically ones in which Hazel is merely an image in the background, made me genuinely scared by how much we looked alike. It wowed me especially to see not only did we have a matching face, but her wardrobe of oversized bowling shirts and 1980s-prom-worthy vests matched my wardrobe so much that for my second viewing (of course I’ve seen it more than once), I essentially went in Hazel cosplay. I entered and left the theater both times hoping to snag a few wayward glances from gays, saying “Is that…? No…maybe?”

Not just in terms of looks, but personality-wise, too, does this character steal from me. Without spoiling too much, many of the film’s main plot points revolve around her blissful ignorance and inability to understand sarcasm. As a stupid gullible lesbian myself, this kind of representation means so much.

Do you realize how disorienting to log onto TikTok, and see five thirsty fancams in a row of your literal face, with comments as innocent as “she’s so gf” or “I even want her as a loser,” to as raunchy as “* **** *** ** *** ** ** ****” (censored because my mom might read this). I’ve been experiencing a unique bout of intense jealousy over seeing the amount of overwhelming dyke thirst for this character, while I am sitting in my bed scrolling through these adjacent compliments. I am slightly ashamed to admit that if you search the comments long enough on most of these fancams, you’ll see a comment from me saying something like “wow so weird that i look just like her,” begging to be noticed. Is this how Dylan Sprouse felt after Riverdale? I have never been interested in influencer fame, but I did in fact redownload TikTok immediately to try to go viral for looking like Hazel (my video has roughly 35K views now, but I have yet to be cast as Hazel’s twin for the sequel Bottoms 2: Tops, so it’s ostensibly a failure). Do you know what it does to a person to see a fancam of your face at least once a day while you are just trying to get your cat to stop biting you? I am about to go ballistic nuclear fallout with rage every time I see it — it feels as if I have had my work plagiarized and am forced to watch someone else get all the credit.

Bottoms is a fantastic, hilarious film that allows lesbians to have sweet fluttery crushes and also allows them to be massive horny dirtbag shitheads, which is exactly what every lesbian in my real social circle is doing. But more importantly, Bottoms is going to do wonders for my dating game. Already a pretty girl I followed on Instagram messaged me earnestly to congratulate me on my acting, so I know my luck is beginning to turn around. Many Hazel stans, unfortunately believe this goofy loser masc lesbian who dresses like a dad from the 70s and is extremely gullible as well as good-hearted, and seeking to create spaces for queer female solidarity, doesn’t exist in real life. Or at the very least, she is Cruz, who is likely unattainable for most average dating pools. Which is why I am so happy to announce to the world that in fact this absolute dope of a butch is real, and it’s me. So this is the moment where I get to take advantage of Autostraddle’s kindness to publish an essay from me by turning it into a dating profile:

Hi, I’m Gabbie, I’m 26, 5’3, a poet and (new, hopeful, fertile) essayist, a Pisces, and live in Austin, Texas. No, I’m not in the movie Bottoms. Looking for someone to convince me Taylor Swift is gay or to play Dungeons & Dragons with. I’m very sweet and would love to open doors for you. My therapist would absolutely not approve of this dating tactic, so please don’t tell her. Feel free to DM me, especially if you’re Havana Rose Liu (who plays Isabel in the film, and who is so pretty I sometimes actually couldn’t look at the screen). I am offering a god-ordained level of restraint here by not going off on a tangent about Liu, but just know I could, and I would, and I probably will eventually. 

In all seriousness, Bottoms, despite (or because of) its raunch, filth, and dirtbaggery, is such an important film for lesbians and other queer women. It allows them to be multi-faceted, to indulge in the sweetness of high school crushes or the hilarity of teen horniness, and represents a wide arrange of lesbian identity. It allows them to have a silly high school movie without the burden of tragic coming out scenes, or internalized homophobia. It is just fun, campy ridiculous queer fun. Nothing in this world fills me with as much immediate joy as lesbians being allowed to just be, to have happy endings, to be more than background to straight or gay male love stories. To be messy and mean, sweet and sincere, gross and god-awful. And most importantly, what fills me with the most joy of all? Confirmation from the greater lesbian community, by proxy, that I am in fact hot.


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Gabrielle Grace Hogan

Gabrielle Grace Hogan (she/her) received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her poetry has been published by TriQuarterly, CutBank, Salt Hill, and others, and has been supported by the James A. Michener Fellowship and the Ragdale Foundation. In the past, she has served as Poetry Editor of Bat City Review, and as Co-Founder/Co-Editor of You Flower / You Feast, an anthology of work inspired by Harry Styles. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can find her on Instagram @gabriellegracehogan, her website www.gabriellegracehogan.com, or wandering a gay bar looking lost.

Gabrielle has written 2 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. gabrielle’s mom don’t read this

    according to my gay asterisk decoding skills that says “i want her to sit on my face”, right?

    in any case this entire article is the second best dating profile i have ever read and i sincerely hope it yields whatever kind of happiness you’re in the market for; please keep us updated

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