Queer Eye: 10 Years Later

October 21, 2013

Hard to believe, but it was 10 years ago that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy opened the flood gates and unleashed a whole lot of gay on TV screens across the US. Sure there were gay characters on TV, but this was the beginning of something bigger and one of the first times that an entire show was cast with all gay men. With the reality and makeover craze at it's peak, these 5 men were able to win over hearts and minds with their humor and expertise and transformed hetero norms for the better. Sure it was stereotypical, but it was only the beginning of an onslaught of gay characters that have brought about the highest representation of LBGT characters on TV ever.

This week, Andy Cohen hosted the Fab Five for a reunion special where the boys dished on their favorites episodes, body grooming, hookups, and what it meant to be out and proud on TV. I think for many of us, the extremely favorable public response to this show signaled a change in the way the rest of the world thought of us. Coupled with Will & Grace, it made everyone want a Gay BFF who could make them over and style their husbands as well. Whether that was actually the case is another story, but for a little gay reality show on little watched Bravo it ultimately made for a big change in the world.

Were you a Queer Eye fan? Did it change the way straight people responded to you at the time?

Tags: Reality TV, Gay TV, Queer Eye, Bravo
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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Loved the early shows - got kinda repetative towards the end. I am in the closet, but, it was still fun to watch,altho, no one seemed that interested in talking about it, as say, compared to dancing with the stars. Props to the guys for keeping their carrers going and still looking fab-u-los!

I like it because they seemed to care and were so positive (I must have missed the last episodes the guy above is referencing). Also, their fashion sense was right on. Other knock-off shows never had the level of sophisitication these guys brought so effortlessly: I'd find myself getting aggravated when the competitors were dissing someone and were often wrong ("You never wear a button down collar with a sport coat" (ummmmm, duh, you never wear one with a suit!) Solving the universe's problems, one fashion tip at a time...

Am so proud of these guys for having the balls to trend in a direction that showcased 5 Gay Men, proud, positive, caring, sensitive, knowledgeable and strong sensed in their field of expertise. They broke open the stereotype, showing that just because you are a Gay Man your not out to take every man to bed and the hand isn't always uncontrollably fluttering in someones face with vicious barbs replete with girl this and girl that!

I enjoyed the show very much. Even went to a book signing back then in NYC. I was very much into DIY programs back then, so Thom was my source for how I'd like my apartment to look. Then Carson on how I should dress. Finally, Kyan for grooming skills. Glad to read that they're still out there spreading their good cheers to others.

I have to agree with the commentaries and watched the retrospective program this past Sunday night. It brought back a lot of great moments. One thing that has been overlooked here is the courage it took for the network (Bravo, I believe) to host the show and also that of the sponsors! Ten years ago doesn't seem that long ago but I don't believe any states had legal gay marriage and the white house didn't give a rat's ass about the gay community. It was not a very supportive environment for a major network to offer such avant garde gay-oriented programing.

I find the show and all of the commentary here to be very sad....it is all ongoing evidence of the absence of progress and the persistence of a kind of self hatred.
This "us vs them" mentality continues to permeate it all. A hundred (thousand ?) years from now, when blended Americans will all look Hawaiian and sexuality will be celebrated for the bountiful blended joys that it brings, there will be no gay or straight distinctions except perhaps by a few retro diehards who just can't get over this old mentality.

@Epicstory, I'm curious how you found ANY "self hatred" or sadness in those comments. Where? I saw words like courage, pride, enjoyment, sophistication, caring, sensitive and more. There was not one person who didn't comment favorably on the show, or its groundbreaking originality and influence. Perhaps you are living in the stereotype of self hatred, BUT NOT US!

Yes Sir, Mr photojack, us field hands sure should be proud that Hollywood has had the courage to portray one of us, our very own Stepandfetchit, in a real movie, we indeed now can enjoy one of our own being portrayed on the big screen in such a caring and sensitive way! How groundbreaking! How influential!
Isn't it wonderful when "queers"can be so stereotyped that the straight majority can be reassured in their superiority!

I found the cast members to be representative of maybe about .37 percent of gay men. Not a blow for diversity.

I agree. As a heavyset, old, bald bear, twink high fashion consumerism does not represent me or anything I am interested in.

There were many poignant moments in the shows that transcended lifestyle boundaries.

I was in my 40s then. My 26 y/o straight neighbor Eric would record it and we'd watch it together, laughing hysterically. We're still good pals.

Mr. Epicstory,
I too feel that it wasn't really representative of the gay scene. So rather than pulling it down (I didn't much care for this show or Will and Grace either. Although Karen and Jack were a hoot) what would you have rather seen being portrayed on TV? Gay had to go somewhere. Where would you have seen it go.

Thanks for asking Mr editor 6660, I would like to begin with the premise that one's value is not connected to one's sexual attractions. Sexual attraction just is and has no connection to either shame or pride. Carrying forward the analogy of the struggle of black Americans, it's only the tv portrayals that don't really care about the characters skin color (Bill Cosby) that show true acceptance. To show real men and woman with real feelings for another of their sex would be an indication of full acceptance. Narratives that describe the way that gays have been victimized also serve a function in changing hearts and minds. But the presentation of stereotypes only perpetuates the old establishment of distance between us normals and those other different "queers". There is no difference. We are all the same both under our skin and under our sheets. The love of a man for a man and a woman for a woman can and should be portrayed with all of the dignity and respect that true love deserves. Anything less is a lie.

To me it seemed that they were not as concerned with helping their subject find a style that he was comfortable with, but in forcing him into their narrow idea of style.

I always found that show very moving. To me it showed how being gay is (or can be) a high and holy spiritual path in this world -- we are "two spirit" people; as some Native American cultures call us. We can see what is in front of us, but also beyond and ennoble the world with our insights and our "other" perspectives. Look at the Stephen Sondheims of this world: that's what they are doing.
Gay people also so often have a priestly or pastoral function -- and I absolutely(!) include hairdressers, interior designers, fashion designers in that list (in addition to religious priests, think of all the teachers, especially special ed teachers, and social workers): these are all pastoral roles. A priest performs your wedding but doesn't get married. The interior decorator designs your home but doesn't live in it. And on that show, they were doing the same thing.
The producers were not conscious of this, maybe the actors were not conscious of this. But WE need to be conscious of this.
Read the works of Harry Hay or the books "Gay Spirit" and "A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture" to get more on this.
And for gay people who don't act as if they are in a high and holy calling, it is our job (I believe) to treat them as part of this holy tribe )) never qs qnything less: You cqn remind people of things they don't even know!
So that's what I think of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

I believe a distinction needs to be made between feminine identification and sexual orientation. Woman have been the traditional caretakers; all boys identify with their mothers to a greater or lesser extent; if to a greater extent there is more ability to nurture. Sexuality develops along another track. Many straight guys are caring and nurturing, many gays mean spirited and rejecting. The object of one's sexual desire does not make one special. The capacity to love does that.

Wow, Epicstory, I really love all your posts here. I have always felt the same way.

Can not say I like it I myself thought it was a bit over raited

The best part of this show was the straight guys who discovered, first, it is OK to hang out with gay guys, and second, that gay guys have something to offer. After all, the prime outcome for every straight guy on this show was to impress his girl friend and get laid. And, of course, the show started the "metro-sexual" revolution where straight guys discovered it is OK to care about how they look and take care of themselves.