Mae Martin, the eternally youthful Canadian comedian, writer, and star of Netflix’s hilarious queer love story Feel Good, didn’t grow up surrounding themselves with many queer cultural phenomenons. They actually found surprising validation for their gender identity with an intake of Elliott Smith, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
“I think from a gender perspective, I always really identified with male singer-songwriters, and often this archetypal male vagabond poet. I was desperately emulating Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac and people like that. I think that was me reaching for something slightly unattainable that I felt. A yearning for that identity,” Martin says.
Despite their obsession (they describe themselves as a superfan of many different things) with masculine musicians, Martin strives to be an advocate for fluidity and ambiguity — both in gender and sexuality. Below, are a few icons, movies, and other media that they find important to their identity.
My dad showed me Rocky Horror when I was 5. I was really too little to be watching it, but it just blew my mind. My dad idolized Frank N. Furter. He was like, “This person is amazing.” It was really important for me to see how cool my parents were with queerness. At a young age it really opened my eyes to this infinite spectrum of sexualities and gender identities. Frank N. Furter was this sexual omnivore. There aren’t very many confident bisexual characters that I had seen growing up. I always really admired the fluidity in both sexuality and gender of Frank N. Furter.
There was something about these three hilarious, strong, flamboyant women owning the screen. I’ve fancied them all. That was big. It was just an awakening for me. The major pillars of my identity are basically Bette Midler, the Beatles, Elliott Smith, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It’s about a gay Cuban poet who’s in prison for being gay. I grew up in a liberal utopia, where my parents were, thankfully, not homophobic at all. Then I saw the film. And it just broke my heart. I was maybe 11 [when I saw it for the first time] and I was like, Oh, my God, the world is not as open-minded as my home.
In a way, it was a metaphor for adolescent sexuality. Those monster metaphors probably rang true for me. It meant a lot when Willow had a gay relationship in it. I didn’t necessarily relate to those characters, but it felt like a queer show to me.
I was definitely identifying with those boys and their struggle through puberty — any coming-of-age story like that.