The 30 Gayest Things About the Supposedly Straight Rom-Com “13 Going On 30”

A few months after Autostraddle’s 13th birthday, I will turn 30. If nothing else, this has given me free rein to make frequent 13 Going On 30 jokes in our virtual office space as well as write 13 Going On 30 references into as much of our 13th birthday content as possible. Well, why not go all the way? Why not revisit the 2004 film I often refer to as one of the greatest straight rom-coms of all time?

The timing is perfect. I’m 78 days away from turning 30, the age young Jenna Rink so desperately wants to jump to because being 13 is bad. Being 13 IS bad. Unless you are an indie queer media publication that just turned 13, in which case that is actually very impressive. Seems like a good time to remind you we couldn’t have gotten here without reader support, and joining A+ is a great way to help us make it to 14!!!!!

I saw 13 Going On 30 in theaters the week it came out. I was a month away from turning 12, so still a little way’s away from 13, but I felt extremely connected to Jenna Rink and her obsession with being bullied by the meanest girls at school. I also desperately wanted to be a Six Chick and maybe still do? Tom Tom is an icon, a legend, the blueprint. And Judy Greer’s performance as a grown up Tom Tom is inspiring and scene-stealing and turned me into a lifelong Judy Greer fan.

And folks, I’m happy to report the movie absolutely holds up as one of the greatest straight rom-coms of all time. yes, Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer have incredible chemistry. But also so do Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo — it must be said! I know that a lot of times queer pop culture obsessives — myself included! — like to say we wish a movie had been gayer. Truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing about this movie! I think it can sometimes be a copout to simply state that a thing should have been gayer, because it ignores the nuances of connection with art and stories and narratives, you know? Sure, I’m not opposed to a queer remake of 13 Going On 30, and I do constantly wish for more dyke rom-coms, but I’m not gonna pretend like I didn’t feel SEEN and INTENSELY INVESTED IN THE LOVE STORY HERE just because it was about heteros even though I first watched it as a closeted lil lesbian. And even as an out lesbian, I’m STILL very invested!!!! A good rom-com is a good rom-com!!!!! Whoops this sounds like I need to write an entire separate essay about this haha we are here to have FUN. It is the weekend, damnit!

Despite everything I just said………….

Because this is Autostraddle and because I am me, I want to celebrate the site’s 13th and my impending 30th by highlighting the gayest things about this movie, which also happen to be the greatest things about this movie, because as we all know, being gay is GREAT.

So without further ado: The 30 gayest things about 13 Going On 30.

1. Jenna Rink’s striped shirt for school picture day.

A young Jenna Rink has a bob haircut and bangs and a mouthguard. She is wearing a collared sweater with purple, pink, and white stripes. She is posing for school picture day.

Sure, it’s not a full-on rainbow sweater, but a striped/colorblocked school picture day outfit sure does look a lot like the look I did every year for school picture day:


2. Jenna’s whole look here

A young Jenna Rink has a short bob and bangs and wears a purple sweater with white hearts on it. Her backpack has rainbow straps.

I mean, sure, the rainbow backpack straps are obvious. But the heart sweater is giving gay horse girl vibes.


3. The Six Chicks walking down the hall in formation

Six teen girls have ponytails and stand in a line in a school hallway. They are wearing very 80s looks.

This movie really does have all of my favorite tropes (high school girls walking down a hall in formation, makeover montage, shopping montage, etc.). My own version of the Six Chicks was in sixth grade when three other girls with K names and I dubbed ourselves “K To The Fourth.” I know for a fact that one of the other former members of K To The Fourth is gay, so 50% of K To The Fourth is gay, so by the transitive property of Girl Group Law, at least three of the Six Chicks are gay, and my money is on the Six Chicks who are played by Brie Larson and Ashley Benson (far right!) as well as neck scarf in the back there.


4. The Jenna Dream House

Young Matty unveils the Jenna Dream House, a toy house he got for young Jenna Rink, who looks at it in surprise

First of all, this is a classic femme/butch couple right here. Second of all, constructing a Barbie dream house-style custom dollhouse for your best friend for her birthday? That combines the forces of romantic friendship AND miniature house construction+interior design, and that my friends is a very powerfully gay combination.


5. This pile of jean jackets

Young Jenna Rink holds a pile of multicolored jean jackets

It’s a pile of jean jackets.


6. This floppy-haired soft butch jock

A group of teen boys with floppy hair and varsity jackets get out of a car

That is a Ken doll lesbian.


7. Thinking that playing something on a Casio keytar will make your best friend feel better

Young Matty grabs his Casio keytar off of a foosball table and says "Just let me play you this song, okay? It'll make you feel better"

This is like when, to cheer up my friends, I would perform entire scenes from the feature film Cheetah Girls like some court jester whose life’s purpose was to entertain them. Also, I would just like to take a moment to appreciate the very specific basement aesthetic here. I can smell this basement.


8. The movie’s entire concept of being 13 and wanting to be 30

Young Jenna Rink is blindfolded in her closet and says "I wanna be 30. Thirty and flirty and thriving."

Whether because of difficulty relating to our heterosexual peers or the lack of representation of young and out queer folks in media/pop culture or familial trauma (too dark?), wanting to skip right over childhood and into adulthood does feel Very Queer.


9. “Sweet bottom”

Lucy and Jenna are walking on a New York sidewalk, and Jenna is answering her phone to someone saying "Hey, sweet bottom" on the other end of the line.

Also, Jenna’s entire look here is iconic. Also, I need Jennifer Garner’s entire wardrobe from this movie. Also, part of what makes this movie so fucking good is how great Jennifer Garner is at pretending to be a 13-year-old in a 30-year-old’s body. The physical comedy is magnificent!!!!!!!


10. Wanting to process a friendship breakup 17 years after it happened

Matt says "We're not friends anymore, Jenna"

Jenna is wearing a polka dot coat and says "Matty, you're my best friend."

Okay, sure, to Jenna the friendship breakup never happened, because she skipped from her 13th birthday to here, but my point stands.


11. Jennifer Garner grabbing her own boobs

Jenna is wearing a colorblocked minidress and grabbing her boobs while a young girl stands in the elevator next to her looking embarrassed

Okay, this moment is gay in that when I saw it in the theater as a very repressed preteen, I almost lost my mindddddd like I absolutely already was looking at her boobs in this dress and then I felt like I was being CALLED OUT.

12. A party called Girls Night Out

Lucy, Jenna, and Richard are dressed up for a party and standing on a dancefloor. The sign behind them says Girls Night Out

Sounds to me like a dyke night at a 2-for-1 PBR bar to meeeeeeee.


13. The line “Hi, girls. Our J. Lo issue is selling like hotcakes.”

A woman with curly red hair saying "Hi, girls. Our J. Lo issue is selling like hotcakes."

I can’t explain it; I just feel in my body that this line is gay. Also, I love to say Jennifer Lynn Lopez was in the movie 13 Going On 30, even though only her name and photos of her are in 13 Going On 30, but I think that COUNTS.


14. This extra

A person in a tight shirt and short blonde hair is dancing

This is a lesbian named Franky who has a pet ferret and who would have ruined your life in 2004.


15. This extra also

A group of people are dancing at en event. One person is in a red velvet blazer

I am talking about the extra in the red velvet suit on the left, but I don’t think you needed me to specify that, did you!!!!!!


16. Jenna being grossed out by the idea of an adult man hitting on her

Lucy is dragging Jenna away and Jenna is saying "The man? Oh, gross."

Judy Greer’s delivery of “what, do you wanna go to jail? I meant THAT guy” is awards-worthy.


17. Matt and Lucy being very catty to each other like they’re still in high school

Lucy wrinkles her nose and is wearing a gold necklace with an L on it

Holding onto grudges from high school? That’s gay.

I wanted a gold initial necklace because of Alexis on Schitts Creek‘s gold initial necklace, but what if subconsciously it was actually because of Lucy from 13 Going On 30‘s gold initial necklace? It’s true: I have never stopped wanting to emulate the Six Chicks leader.


18. “AnchorPERSON”

Matt and Wendy stand on the sidewalk, and Matt says "Wendy's an anchorwoman" and Wendy says "AnchorPERSON"

You can tell they’ve had this argument about her professional title many times. Also, this is a good time to note that I do feel bad for Wendy in this movie!!!!!! Jenna literally STEALS HER WEDDING? It’s kinda fucked up! Sorry, Wendy!!!!!


19. Judy Greer’s propwork with this cigarette

Lucy is holding a cigarette and smiling

Just retroactively give her awards, PLEASE.


20. Having a mental breakdown in the closet (of your childhood home’s basement)

Jenna is sitting in a closet surrounded by old things from her childhood, looking distressed

Jennifer Garner is really, really good in this movie.


21. This bulldog named Francis

A white and gray bulldog named Francis is being carried like a baby

I love Francis!


22. This Liz Phair needledrop

A big fan blows leaves and Jenna's hair, and she's laughing. Why Can't I? by Liz Phair is playing

“Why Can’t I?” is one of my go-to karaoke songs, and I just realized that it’s probably because of this movie.


23. Slow dancing to Liz Phair

Matt and Jenna are slow dancing

The classic femme/butch couple has grown up into…a classic femme/butch couple.


24. Razzles

Jenna tells Matt "they're both a candy and a gum" and Matt says "that's incredible."

After seeing this film, I immediately wanted to know what Razzles tasted like, but I think even by 2004 they weren’t really abundantly available so I’m not sure how Jenna and Matt found them at some random bodega!!!! My cousin owned a graphic tee from dELiA*s that was of the RAZZLES LOGO, and I was so jealous. Anyway, “razzles” just sounds gay.


25. This ribbon inexplicably tied around Jenna’s center

Jenna and Matt are walking with the NYC skyline behind them, eating Razzles. Jenna is wearing a t-shirt with a pink ribbon tied around her middle.

I can’t really EXPLAIN this one I just FEEL it.


26. The whole sleepover scene

Jenna and a bunch of young girls are in pajamas dancing in a bedroom

Just a buncha teens singing and dancing while playing dress-up to “Love Is A Battlefield” and having a very good time!!!! I love it!!!!!


27. When the hot mean girl bully turns out to have grown up into a hot mean girl bully

Lucy is carrying a box of things from the office

Tom Tom’s gonna Tom Tom.


28. Falling in love with your best friend

Jenna holds her dollhouse and cries while saying "I love you, Matt"

Jenna holds her dollhouse and cries while saying "you're my best friend"

Gay!!!!!

(Also: He kept the Jenna Dream House even though in his reality, they had a friendship breakup years ago!!!! GAY!!!!!)


29. Marrying your best friend

Matt is wearing a wedding suit, and Jenna is wearing a strapless wedding dress and holding a bouquet of pink flowers

Gay!!!!!!!!!!!


30. U-Hauling with your best friend

A packed U-Haul sits in front of a pink house. On the lawn, there is a white couch, and Matt and Jenna are snuggling on it.

Like it’s literally a U-Haul.


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 458 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. I’m still upset the pandemic (and the onslaught of winter holidays but that’s normal) made me unable to host an inspired 30-flirty-and-thriving party. I guess I have the rest of the decade to do something 🤔

  2. Unless you have lived through that decade, you can not judge things with today’s standards. Things were different and are different for every generation. This was a total flashback movie for some.

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