In the early ’90s, like many other future millennials, I was learning how to walk on my own, how to use words and even what it meant to inhabit my gender identity. Mrs. Doubtfire appeared on the silver screen just one month after I celebrated my 5th birthday, and Williams’ transcendent performance unwittingly helped me celebrate parts of myself society would soon teach me to suppress and shame — my own identities as a queer, gender-nonconforming and male-bodied intersectional feminist.
In the days and months ahead, there will surely be countless tributes to a man who had an indisputable impact on America’s comedic landscape. But for me, Williams will always be the man who first taught me that it was OK to explore the non-binary expanses of my childhood identity, to be both strong and caring and to empathize with causes and people who aren’t mainstream and face everyday discrimination.
Here are a few of the moments that had such an indelible impact on my life