What’s the point of Queer Eye? Ostensibly one would say it’s for entertainment, but with media being as saturated as it is, every piece starts to beg the question why. Why this, why here, and why now?
The original show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, came about in the early 2000s. The fear of contracting AIDS by breathing next to a gay man was subsiding, and America was in need of something to humanize us gays as something beyond ~fabulous~ drag queens and gay best friends.
But now it’s 2018, and things are better than ever for American gays. (I mean, they certainly aren’t ideal, when our humanity is still being questioned, we’re still being accused of being pedophiles, berated for being who we are, told we’re going to hell, and being killed in the streets, not to mention lawmakers are constantly attacking our rights and allowing for discrimination in the workplace, but things are still better. At least now homosexuality isn’t a legally punishable crime, so hooray! Big win for us there. If you aren’t catching the sarcasm by now I’m legally allowed to smack you.) So why bring back the show now?
The answer I’ve arrived at is simple: it’s not for “the straight guy” anymore. It’s for us. Us being the LGBTQ+ community.
We’re not trying to prove our humanity anymore, or show how well we can get along with straight people. All we want is to know that we can make it in the world, that we can have successful careers and happy relationships without concealing who we are. That’s what the Fab Five does for the community. They are five distinguished men who have risen to the tops of their respective fields, started families, and been able to be open about who they are.
Yes, the Fab Five makeover their (usually straight male) clients, and while they tease the people they work with about the habits of straight men and joke about how homos do it better, they also tell stories about how they got to where they are. And for a lot of LGBTQ+ youth who are wondering if they’ll ever be able to make it in the world, that’s exactly what they need to hear. They inspire young queer people just by existing as they are. We don’t necessarily need to know how to make guacamole or tidy a space, we just want to know that there are people just like us who actually made it.
The Fab Five don’t just affect the lives of their clients, but their viewers, and in ways much more profound than a new wardrobe or a haircut. (Although those are both very profound and life-changing experiences, Tan and Jonathan- you’re doing great sweeties. Bobby, Antoni, and Karamo, you too. Keep it up.)