Imagine 2000. The Boy Scouts of America banned not only gay leaders, but gay youth. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell discriminated against and silenced gay members of our military. Not a single state legally recognized gay marriage.
Queer as Folk aired its first season in 2000. A show centered on the loves and the lives of a group of gay friends in Pittsburgh, it swept the nation with its graphic portrayal of the urban homosexual lifestyle: it held nothing back in terms of sex, drugs, or language. Many were surprised that it survived more than three episodes, and they were shocked to see it carry on for five whole seasons. It made no concessions to its straight audience and delivered both brash humor and bold emotion in every episode.
That’s one of my favorite parts of Queer as Folk. It doesn’t conform to one-dimensional stereotypes, heterosexual standards, or family-friendly levels of appropriateness. When I close my eyes and conjure an image of the show, the two adjectives that stick out are brave and revolutionary. It tackles a gamut of issues with strong social commentary – heteronormativity, drug use, marriage, AIDS, semidiscordant relationships, etc. – without preaching or plowing viewers with lessons on right and wrong.
But the best aspect of Queer as Folk is its characters. Peter Paige, the actor who played Emmett Honeycutt, once said, “People came for the queer, but they stayed for the folk.” Every issue thrown in, every sex scene included, every curse word used, deepens the complexity of the characters and the pathos of the problems they experience. The cast starts out simple: Michael, the do-good doe-eyed boy next door, Emmett, the out and proud queen, Ted, the conservative accountant, Justin, the emotionally intelligent yet sexually inexperienced seventeen-year-old, and Brian, the hottest and most successful guy on the block. By the end of the first season, they veer from their established archetypes and possess a plethora of depth. Even the more minor characters, like Lindsay and Melanie, the group’s committed lesbian friends, or Debbie, Michael’s loudmouth mother, worm their way into your heart. This magical ensemble’s strengths, flaws, dialogue, ability to pick themselves up, and ability to pick each other up is amazing and at least for me, feels like a second family.
In 2005, after five seasons of drama, laughter, love, and tears, Queer as Folk ended. Now it’s 2013, and the show still has a large amount of relevance to the gay community today. Even as the years fly by, its impact will never be forgotten. I will always remember the hours I’ve spent with my friends analyzing various plot lines and characters and the endless amount of fanboy freakouts I’ve had regarding Brian and Justin’s relationship. Queer as Folk has inspired me not only to become the best homosexual I can be, but the best human, as a whole, possible.
Has anyone watched Queer as Folk? If so, what are your thoughts? If you want to discuss anything spoiler-related message me and we can chat – I just finished the show two days ago and I’ve probably shed more tears within that time than in the last several years of my life. If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope I’ve motivated you to at least watch an episode or two to see if you like it! It’s not for the frail of heart but it is for the open-minded. Though I probably won’t post much about the show on this blog, I will continue to obsess over it and analyze it on my Tumblr. On that note, now I need to read more and maybe start Six Feet Under. Have a splendid day, everyone!