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I think for a lot of people in America, Damien was the first person they saw as gay, and you could kind of tell I was really gay, even if I didn’t say it, but like a gay, chubby teen just kind of being comfortable in his skin and, like, never worrying.
Damien didn’t cry in the movie, and he wasn’t sad. There was none of that stuff. He probably would have been a plastic if he was a girl because he got the hierarchy of it all, but he was above it.
I feel like it’s such a great character, but for so many young gay kids, especially chubby kids or POC kids or anyone who just felt like other or different, or wasn’t sitting at the cool white table, I feel like for them Damien was something that was like, ‘Wow, like that’s kind of like me, like, I’m that one? Like, and he’s the best, they’re the best out of everything.’
It’s such a defining moment in my life, but I got a fan letter from someone at the 10th year anniversary who said, ‘You know, I don’t know if you’re gay or not. And it doesn’t matter. But when I was in eighth grade, I was tortured for being chubby and beat up for being a sissy. And then your movie came out and in ninth grade on the first day of my freshman year, the popular senior girl said, you’re like, Damien, come sit with us.’ And he was like, ‘Thank you for giving me something immediate that I can point to and say, that’s me.’Daniel Franzese talking the impact of 2004’s “Mean Girls” on David Yountef’s “Behind the Velvet Rope” podcast.