Savanah Dooley writes for TIME about growing up with LGBT characters and coming out

Savanah Dooley, daughter of My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman, wrote a piece for TIME.com today about how the series out character Rickie (played by GLAAD's own Wilson Cruz) helped her growing up as she struggled to understand her own identity. Cruz's role as gay high school student Rickie Vasquez was a groundbreaking moment in the history of LGBT images in the media and in 1995 he accepted the GLAAD Media Award on behalf of the groundbreaking drama.

"When I unexpectedly fell for a girl in high school, I was thrown for a loop. By that time, I could appreciate more of the nuances of MSCL, like the fluidity of Rickie’s sexual and gender expression. [...] That’s why characters like Rickie matter so much. They can be a lifeline for viewers who may not be able to talk to anyone about what they’re going through. And they can help change minds by humanizing those who are different.

It gives me hope that we’ll continue to break ground, bringing even more diverse stories to the screen and moving toward a culture where more kids can feel as safe coming out as I did."

Dooley has gone on to her own successful career in entertainment; she is most well-known for co-creating the ABC Family series Huge. Read the full piece at TIME.

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism