Exclusive: The Cast and Creatives of ‘Queer as Folk’

Image via Peacock

The vibrant reimagining of Showtime’s groundbreaking series Queer as Folk debuted June 9 on Peacock, and not only does it provide great visibility for the LGBTQ community in pop culture, but the general consensus seems to be that it’s defiant, bold, sexy, and messy.

Additionally, it is timely and urgent. 

When Russell T. Davies introduced the British series in 1999, which was later adapted for America in 2000, it was a coming of age story like never before that saved as many lives as it entertained. Many people within the LGBTQ community finally felt seen, even though the show specifically focused on white, cis individuals who identified as gay or lesbian. Now that we are in a new era and understand several more spectrums of the community including transgender, nonbinary, pansexual, and genderfluid, Stephen Dunn and Jaclyn Moore felt it was necessary to reimagine Queer as Folk for modern audiences, which also includes queer people of color and queer people who are differently abled.

The reboot follows a diverse group of friends in New Orleans whose lives are transformed in the aftermath of a tragedy and touches on topics like HIV, the New Orleans drag scene, transitioning, queer parenting, new and unexpected romances, infidelity, and more.

Instinct had the pleasure of chatting with Dunn and Moore, as well as cast members Devin Way, Johnny Sibilly, Jesse James Keitel, CG, Ryan O’Connell, and Fin Argus about their excitement for this epic project and the kind of impact they hope it makes. 

Image via Peacock

Johnny Sibilly (Noah Hernandez) & Devin Way (Brodie Beaumont)

How excited are you to be involved with the Queer as Folk reboot?

DW: The most excited! I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited for anything in my entire life, honestly. I mean that sincerely. It’s so magical to get to be a part of a story that is this good. It’s this good. I’ve seen it, it’s amazing, you’re going to love it. I’m so excited for people to fall in love with it.

JS: I’m just ecstatic as well. It’s one of those things where it’s like, oh, that was a dream I had. When I watched Queer as Folk as a kid, I was like, I would love to be on a show like this. Then to actually step on set to play it, oh shit, I’m actually here! It’s so rewarding.

Image via Peacock

So, you two were fans of the original series?

JS: Yes. It’s one of the only ways I saw queer life. Even though the past few iterations were specifically white, cis gay men, I still saw who I was through them. So, I was such a fan, but to be honest, I was kind of scared when I first saw it. Like, I’ve got things to learn, and I learned some of them from Queer as Folk. So, yes, I’ve always been a fan.

DW: Then I learned everything from Johnny. We’re just passing it down from generation to generation (laughs).

Do you believe this reboot will make as big of an impact?

JS: We can hope so. I think for me, I show up to work trying to tell the story the best that I can and hope that audiences take from it what we want and the respect and the privilege we have in making it. We hope that it is seen by people, but at the end of the day, I was very proud of what we did. I know Devin is as well.

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DW: Yeah, I’m like, this is going to be great! You want to know why? Because we are a group of truly diverse people telling stories that are so authentic to us. They’re not pushed, forced, or fabricated. It’s just us existing, and I think the first two iterations were so magical because that’s what they were doing. They were telling their story. So, when you open that up to a group of people who get to tell their own story, people are going to fall in love with it. It’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s heartwarming, it’s important. I mean, it’s a hit.

Jesse James Keitel (Ruthie O’Neil) & CG (Shar)

How excited are you to be involved with the Queer as Folk reboot?

JJK: I am still pinching myself.

CG: Yeah, excited isn’t the word.

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When you found out there was going to be a reboot, what were your initial thoughts?

CG: One of my initial thoughts was, really? Another one? (Laughs). But once we got the ball rolling with each other, the word ‘reimagining’ started to become truer than ‘reboot.’ So, there was a lot of comfort in that word. We are reimagining.

JJK: It’s definitely not just rehashing the same storylines and characters. It really is, using the creators’ words, it’s a vibrant, reimagining. Getting to be part of that feels really cool.

So, you think it will make as big of an impact as the original series?

JJK: I hope so. The original was such an awakening for so many people. So many fans of the original hold it really near and dear to their hearts, and there’s definitely a lot of pressure to do right by them and hopefully have a legacy that is similar. People can watch and see themselves reflected in ways they may not have been able to see before. An extension of what has come before us.

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In addition to being a good representation for POC and others across the LGBTQ spectrum, what else do you hope this show achieves?

JJK: I hope people have fun, and I hope they can relate to these characters who are deeply flawed and ultimately very human. I also hope they can see themselves reflected in these queer people, specifically myself as a trans woman getting to play this beautifully flawed trans woman on TV. I hope people can look at the work we’ve done, look at what we’re doing, and apply that to their real lives. Help humanize trans people off screen as well.

CG: I feel like when people think about the queer community, even people within the queer community, they sometimes have a one-track mind of what it may look like and what it might feel like.  So, the takeaway is that we are much bigger than we seem.

Ryan O’Connell (Julian Beaumont) & Fin Argus (Mingus)

How excited are you to be involved with the Queer as Folk reboot?

ROC: Medium excited (laughs).

FA: Yeah, we didn’t really get along as a cast.

ROC: We fought like cats and dogs!

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That’s not what I heard from the others!

FA: I guess they must have been lying.

ROC: I mean, have you seen a bunch of queer people in one room? Bad things happen!

FA: (Laughs) No, we’re very excited. It’s fun to have made something this special with a bunch of people that you like and think are cool.

Were you a fan of the original series?

ROC: I definitely watched it when I was 12 years old and really horny, so it helped in that department, which we love and stan. No, it was groundbreaking. It was important. I’m glad I had it, but also, I’m glad that we are bringing it back in 2022 so that people like me could exist in the show and feel seen.

Image via Peacock

Do you believe this reboot will make as big of an impact?

ROC: I hope!

FA: Yeah, I don’t see why not. I think that it’s an accurate reflection of where queerness is at nowadays, and I think people are going to be excited to see themselves reflected for the first time. It’s also not spoon-fed queerness. This is an invitation to an authentic and honest version of queerness. I think that’ll be interesting to not only the queer community to finally see on camera, but also to straight people. It’s not this diluted version of queerness made to be palatable. It’s saying, you have permission to watch this community exist in its rawest form. I think that’ll be exciting for people.

ROC: There’s no hand holding, there’s no lube. It’s giving Brokeback Mountain in the tent with Heath and Jake.

Stephen Dunn (Creator, Writer, Director, & Executive Producer)

Let me begin by asking, what made you want to bring back Queer as Folk and why is a show like this needed today?

SD: Queer as Folk changed my life. It was my first exposure to a queer community, and it was my sexual awakening. It also changed the landscape of television. It’s the reason I can be a queer filmmaker today. I feel that queer storytelling has always been important to me, and I wanted to reimagine the title and really lean into the evolution of the word ‘queer.’ What it means today to exist in this climate and community, and unfortunately, as we see it today in our news cycles, the importance of loud, defiant visibility of queerness is more important than ever because of the things that we’re facing on a daily basis. The act of queer joy in and of itself is defiant right now.

You wanted it to be completely different from the original Showtime series?

Well, I think you’ll notice there are some winks and nods to the previous versions of the show throughout, but in order to tell a new story for a modern audience in a new city, we needed to pave new ground. In order to do this with authenticity, we needed new characters and a new storyline that reflects a modern global audience. That was a big driving factor of our show.

In addition to being a good representation for POC and others across the LGBTQ spectrum, what else do you hope the series achieve?

I’m very proud of the voices and characters in our show, and it was really important for us to be inclusive. We wanted to include and center stories not just from the queer community, but also the differently abled community, the trans nonbinary community. If there’s anyone out there who feels seen or a little bit less alone, I think our job is done.

Image via Peacock

If all goes well, can we expect the season two?

You’ll have to ask Peacock that, but I certainly hope so!

Jaclyn Moore (Writer & Executive Producer)

How excited are you to be involved with the Queer as Folk reboot?

Oh, my goodness! I’m so excited! This an iconic title and two iconic former shows, and to get to bring it into a new generation is pretty special. Especially considering what queerness mean in 2022 versus what it meant in 1999/2000. I couldn’t be more excited.

Image via Peacock

Were you a fan of the original series?

I was. The original British series is one of my favorite shows of all time. The defiance and the punk edge to the queerness felt very right to me, and what a dream come true to be sitting here now.

Do you believe this reboot will make as big of an impact?

I hope so. It’s definitely telling different kinds of stories. I was a closeted, queer trans woman when I saw the original show and loved it, but I didn’t see me reflected back. Some of my queerness reflected back, but to get to do a version of the show that also centers trans folks, nonbinary folks, people of color, and multiple characters who have disabilities, the fact that we can tell stories about all kinds of queer people and not just a certain kind of queer person, I think that’s pretty special. For the younger versions of me who are watching, I think this could mean a lot. I think it could be huge.

Would you say a show like this is needed today?

Oh, yes. Very, very much. We live in a country where trans rights are wildly under attack. The things that we go through as queer people and trans people are terrible, and I think the fact that we are being demonized by some in our country and legislated against by many in our country, being painted as monsters who are dangerous to children, it is despicable.

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So, the idea that we can tell stories like Queer as Folk can be a line of defense against that. We get to tell our stories and show that trans and queer individuals are people too. We’re complicated, and we’re not perfect, and that’s very important to me as well. I don’t subscribe to the idea that respectability politics need to be played to convince people of our humanity. The people who have decided they hate us are not going to be changed because they see a show with a very nice trans lady on it.

Showing real trans and queer characters and telling real trans and queer stories about complicated people, saying that trans and queer people can make mistakes, be messy, still be worthy of narrative, and still be worthy of being at the center of a show, I think that’s wildly important, and not just in a fun TV way. My personal rights are under attack in this country every day, so I very much believe this wholeheartedly.

Queer as Folk is now available to stream on Peacock

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