How Ginger Spice helped me discover my sexuality

The year was 1996, and I was just finishing up high school. I would trudge home from school each day and find solace in turning on MuchMusic (Canada’s own version of MTV, for those wondering) and dancing with myself to the songs on the TV.  It made me feel so alive and connected to myself.

It was December and frigid, a typical Canadian winter, when the television erupted with the laughter of a group of women from a music video. I stopped everything I was doing and watched in awe. The video was for the song “Wannabe,” the Spice Girls’ debut release in North America. Little did I know just how much of an impact they were going to have on my life.

Watching that video awoke something in me, something I wasn’t fully aware of yet. From their terrible movie to their hilariously cheeky music videos, I devoured everything Spice Girls. Everyone had a favorite, and I had developed a particular fondness for Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice. I saw myself in her: the firecracker, the loud mouth, and the flamboyant dresser. In Geri, I found someone who oozed sexuality, confidence, and made me feel things I had never felt before.

While the Spice Girls as a group were touting Girl Power, all I kept thinking was how much I wanted Ginger to be my girlfriend.

Right above my bed, I taped a Spice Girls poster, and as I would go to bed each night, I would stare up at Ginger Spice and think long and complicated thoughts. Being a teenager,  I was feeling this immense pressure to define myself. This pressure didn’t come from anyone in particular; rather, it came from myself. I wondered, was it weird to be sexually attracted to another female? Did this mean I was not attracted to men anymore? Was this just a phase? I was feeling incredibly confused about these sexual thoughts and feelings I was having. 

It’s no wonder I was so confused: people often do not take bisexuality seriously. The fact is, even then, I felt like I would be harassed and tormented more by my peers for liking people of both genders. There are many people (both in and out of the LGBTQ community) who don’t believe in bisexuality, and I thought people would think I was just craving attention. So there I was, trapped in my own thoughts and emotions, hoping that Geri Halliwell and the Spice Girls could give me the strength to explore my new-found sexual desires.

The biggest thing throughout these years I had to keep telling myself was, “You are normal. Your sexual identity is part of what makes you an individual,” and with this newfound confidence and girl power, I began to explore the LGBTQ community in Toronto via all-ages queer nights. Through those nights, I met women who helped me form my queer identity (as it is today), women who I would eventually date in my later years, and women who I am still friends with.

I have grown up a lot since those scared teenage years, but looking back at it now, I owe a lot to Ginger Spice. While it may have just been a celebrity crush, she gave me the confidence and courage to be myself, unabashedly explore my sexual being, and do it all while exuding girl power.

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