Queer eyes are making straight guys look fly
Netflix original challenges gender norms
by Jeremy Holder and Matthew Kriese
It’s difficult to find a show that forces intense self-reflection on its audience. Most shows on Netflix can promise to excite or fright, but few can cause tears to flow freely or laughs to be had loudly; somehow the Netflix original series Queer Eye manages to do both by challenging political connotations and societal perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community while also breaking male gender norms.
Queer Eye follows five gay men (the Fab 5) who specialize in perfecting the lives of other men who seem to be lacking necessary skills to excel socially. From grooming to culture, the hosts equip each man with the tools for positive change in hopes for them to reevaluate aspects of their life that are otherwise neglected.
With a great deal of introspection placed on the men, a larger picture is portrayed in the community for gay men. Each of the hosts gracefully presents their own sexual and gender presentation authentically. In a world where masculine gender roles and masculine-identified people are releasing their ideas into in mainstream media, each host presents true to their own identities.
From Jonathan Van Ness’ fierce confidence portrayed through his wardrobe featuring mostly rompers and a clear knowledge of his true self, to Antoni’s humble explanations of coming to terms with self-acceptance, and Karamo unraveling his multi-faceted black and homosexual intersectional identity, each cast member brings a different and authentic perspective in hopes to portray a more nuanced spectrum of the identifying homosexual male individuality.
What makes the show politically important isn’t new hairstyles or mattresses; the show is primarily about public discourse. Queer Eye takes place in Georgia, a bizarre political climate. Trump only won 50.4 percent of the overall vote in Georgia, but dominated in rural communities where he garnered up to 83.8 percent of the vote. Many men from these communities are noticeably conservative, religiously and politically. As the first episode makes very clear, many men in rural Georgia have never interacted with gay men.
But, that’s the true beauty of the show. The hosts make no attempt to impose left-leaning ideologies onto the men they work with. Instead, they challenge these men to see them as they are: hard-working individuals who happen to have a different worldview. This creates discourse that is human and relatable, not the frightening machismo that is seen in contemporary political conversations at the federal level and even in media.
Though Georgia still has a long way to go for representation of the LGBTQ+ community in general, it should be noted that none of the hosts from the original series could have been legally married at the time of Queer Eye’s air-time. Now, there are two hosts (Bobby Berk and Tan France) who are married to their own respective partners and openly talk about their legal matrimony. This is just a small detail, but serves as a significant sign of progress for not only gay men but the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Boundless representation for gay men can be found in Queer Eye. With Netflix announcing a new season, there’s hope for new insights of differing political ideologies among the LGBTQ+ community and from Georgia. The state will receive the Fab 5, and a further positive portrayal of gay men will arrive with the new seasons. Hopefully with the new Queer Eye around, all things will just keep getting better.