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If you didn’t like the original Queer Eye, it’s time to rethink

Written by gaytourism

A new Queer Eye era has begun, and so what better time to look back at a bit of gay history?

Travel back to 2003. We were rocking to Beyonce’s Crazy In Love and partying to Ignition (Remix).

Two events that year confronted and sparked a lot of homophobia in major ways: Madonna giving Britney and Christina a kiss and the launch of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Did you actually watch Queer Eye?

Both were a phenomenon. Discussions of homosexuality were finally being heard in the mainstream.

There were issues with that, of course. You could argue, because of that moment, lesbians were seen as titillation while gay men were seen as every straight woman’s best friend confidante that could help their husbands with styling and grooming.

Ted Allen, Thom Felicia, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley and Kyan Douglas starred in Queer Eye from 2003-07.

Ted Allen, Thom Felicia, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley and Kyan Douglas starred in Queer Eye from 2003-07.

You could also argue that, because of the discussion, it changed how people see gay people in ways that we might not even realize yet.

Cut to 15 years later, no one was really clamoring for a reboot of Queer Eye.

The reboot’s main detractors came from the gay community.

People don’t remember the show – they remember the anger around it.

Queer Eye was a double-edged sword

Trust me, I was 14 in 2003. I had come out at school (but vainly trying to stay closeted at home) and was being bullied every single day.

Queer Eye was a double-edged sword. It put five gay guys on television that were an aspiration for a weird bullied gay fem kid like me.

But it was also a television show that showed five men, good at their jobs, interacting and learning and growing from different people they met.

They were not jesters or fools or gay best friends or whatever stereotypes you could think of, they were five gay guys comfortable in their mix of masculinity and femininity.

That was the overarching theme of the show: ‘feminine’ ideas like vulnerability and self-care are not restricted to women.

You can be both masculine and feminine

As a man you can sit somewhere in the mix of masculine and feminine energies that is in every single human on the planet. You don’t have to be afraid. Femininity is not weak, it can make you strong.

The reason why they could achieve this was because the Fab Five were real men. They were not characters drawn up by a comedy writers’ room made up of straight white guys.

And they were also not the response to characters like Jack from Will & Grace either. They weren’t gay guys written as hyper-masculine to ‘break’ stereotypes.

It was people like Carson, Thom, Ted, Jai and Kyan who helped to break ground in homes across the world.

Does the new Queer Eye work?

And that is why the new Queer Eye, which has just released its first season on Netflix, works.

We still need to see gay men on television comfortable with their masculine and feminine sides.

Queer Eye cast

The all-new Queer Eye team. | Photo: Netflix

The glorious walking gif Jonathan (grooming), the Brit-Pakistani married to a Mormon Tan (style) and the effortlessly charming Karamo (whatever they need for that episode) are real television finds. While the other two,  Antoni (food) and Bobby (home), need work on developing their personas, I have no doubt they will flourish in the future.

The reason why Queer Eye works in 2018 can be found in the fourth episode.

As you watch the first three episodes, they’re what you expect. They’re the slobby, conservative guys. One’s a proclaimed Trump voter and police officer who has to confront his own racism.

But the fourth, featuring a closeted man coming out to his stepmom, is stellar television.

Not only is the nervous and socially unsure AJ freaking gorgeous after his makeover, he gains the confidence to be himself.

This makeover from Queer Eye might be the best ever...

This makeover from Queer Eye might be the best ever…

You could deride Queer Eye as fluffy television. It is, in it’s way, it’s a makeover show after all.

But it has its place today’s culture. It features five diverse gay men comfortable in themselves showing how good they are at their jobs.

Don’t be afraid to zhuzh your opinions.

Joe Morgan is the editor-at-large at Gay Star News. Follow him on Twitter.

Read more:

Meet the new cast of Netflix’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy