In 2003 I was graduating high school (God, I just dated myself) and like most people in high school, I was struggling with lots of identity issues that made the most awkward years in one’s life into a battle to fit in, but stand out—all at once. Dealing with things like sexuality, style, friends, dating—are all part of the fabric of what makes a teenager either feel like there is worth or not beneath the endless obstacles that are coming at them. This was stereotypically me. At the age of 17 I was exploring a new found tool for me—browsing the internet at home. I say new found, because in 2003, I had finally convinced my parents to take our dial-up service past those AOL CDs that we got in the mail.
The internet was my escape from school and my part-time retail job, it’s where I continued my exploration of myself and the person I didn’t know was developing inside of me. It’s on the internet that I discovered chat rooms, dating websites (yes, before Grindr—there was XY), and shows that I couldn’t watch on television because guess what—we didn’t have cable! See why net neutrality is so important?! One of the shows I came across was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on a recently created cable channel that I had never heard of, Bravo. Along with Will and Grace and the DVD box set of Queer As Folk that a friend lent me, Queer Eye helped me come out as a proud gay man from a closeted, insecure boy who wasn’t really sure what all the awkwardness was all about.
Eventually, I was able to make enough money in my retail job to promise to pay for cable so that we could have access to the show that I had almost missed out on. I got to know the Fab 5 and all their talents. I admired how much they knew and how proud they were to be gay. And despite the show being called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I knew the show was really out there for us--the queer guys--who were also trying to learn how to be okay with ourselves and how to be our best selves.
Queer Eye skyrocketed the careers of Carson Kressley who taught me that a necktie could be used as a belt, Ted Allen who showed me how to make a simple flatbread, Kyan Douglas who taught me a thing or two about exfoliating, Thom Felicia who showed me how to create mood lighting in a my tiny room in my parent’s house, and Jai Rodriguez who shared the value of the attention to details as a culture all of its own. They are the mentors I never met, but felt I could turn to for a boost of confidence.
Now, the original Fab 5 are on to bigger and arguably better things since the show ended in 2007. Today’s youth probably wouldn’t recognize most of them because it’s been over 10 years since they were all together making lives fabulous. Luckily, the media has expanded and become more inclusive of diverse representation. LGBTQ individuals are represented more frequently than ever on sitcoms, reality television, film, and in the music industry giving youth greater opportunities to see themselves reflected on screen.
Regardless--all things just keep getting better!
In the golden age of reboots and revivals thanks to streaming media, I am excited to see that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is making a return a decade later. The reboot will be on Netflix, but won't include any of the original gurus as they are all part of other great projects. Instead, the new Fab 5 will be a younger group of guys that have tons of experience, large followings on social media, and interesting perspectives for the bros they’ll be transforming. In a digital world full of millennials, it will be interesting to see how the new cast will play to the interests of younger demographics.
The new Fab 5 are:
Tan France - FASHION
A world traveler, social media influencer and lover of high-end labels with urban appeal. A Muslim who is married to a Mormon cowboy at that!
Antoni Porowski - FOOD & WINE
An actor and food & wine aficionado who was the personal chef of original Fab 5 member Ted Allen according to Entertainment Weekly. His Instagram will make you hungry—and the food looks good too!
Jonathan Van Ness - GROOMING
The hilarious hairdresser from Funny or Die’s Gay of Thrones who is also a celebrity stylist and has his own podcast Getting Curious.
Karamo Brown - CULTURE
You may remember Karamo from MTV’s The Real World: Philadelphia as the first out gay black man to appear on a reality show. He is a producer and on-air host for OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), BET, Access Hollywood Live, CNN, Huffington Post Live, and HLN.
Bobby Berk - INTERIOR DESIGN
Bobby is an expert in design that has appeared on Bravo, HGTV, NBC, and CBS. He has his own label Bobby Berk Home.
According to Entertainment Weekly’s First Look with the Fab 5, the new Queer Eye will go further in to the cast members personal lives as well as move away from the original NYC format we all remember. Instead, the pros will head around the country, targeting red states to try to spread acceptance and open the minds of others.
I will definitely be tuning in to the new Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on Netflix in February. I’m eager to see what new spins they will make on the show. With the show being on Netflix, there will be more liberties, and hopefully less censorship, where the Fab 5 will be able to tackle some more real issues through dialogue and interaction. I’m sure there will be a lot to explore and hopefully—if done right—they will teach some of the guys out there who are trying to figure out how to be their own fabulous queer selves.
And if we're lucky--they will keep the iconic theme song by Widelife!