riverdale | J.LO | The Johnny Lopez

The sudden death of Luke Perry from a massive stroke at the age of 52 today has been devastating.

It’s been a rough day in the 90046 for me, and for boys and girls of a certain age that grew up crushing on Dylan McKay.

Ever since Beverly Hills 90210 premiered on October 4, 1990 – the day after my 19th birthday – I was hooked.  An adult show about teenagers was a rare commodity in those early days before Dawson, before Felicity, even before the Salinger 5.

Dylan McKay was also my first crush when I finally began to realize (yet not fully accept) I was gay. Sure I liked others before, but never like this.

From the get-go you were either Team Dylan or Team Brandon (Jason Priestly).  And for me there was no contest. I was a skinny closeted recovering New Waver easily drawn to the sexy brooding loner with the pompadour, to say nothing of the jeans, the motorcycle & THE SIDEBURNS.

I grew out mine and watched 90210 every week. Back then it wasn’t cool to like a teen show in college, but me and a few close girlfriends would gather every Thursday night (it moved to Wednesdays in Season 3) to indulge in our secret obsession.

To this day, Sophie B. Hawkins‘ “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” always brings back memories of the summer Dylan cheated on Brenda with Kelly …and how we all wanted to be Kelly.

Years later, when Dylan left the series for two seasons, so did I.

And while I crushed on Dylan, I was equally taken with Luke.

He was why I went to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer in theaters, rented 8 Seconds the day it came out and still have the shirtless July 1992 Vanity Fair shot by Annie Leibovitz. So hot!

My crush on Luke is why I was genuinely happy to see his career renaissance as ‘the dad’ on Riverdale. While at the same time, horrified at the realization that I too could be the father of an extremely goodlooking twentysomething teen. Yikes! How did that happen?!

And that’s the thing, Luke was just five years older than me.  The man that gave this closeted teen life is now another reminder of his mortality. 

I didn’t know Luke and never met him, but he always seemed like one of the good guys.

I read that Luke died surrounded by his two children, fiancée, ex-wife, mother, siblings and other friends & family.  He was so loved, but we all knew that.

Luke Perry & Dylan McKay are gone, but neither will ever be forgotten.