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Let’s get one thing straight (as it were): “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was never very “queer.” Not in the 2003 sense of the word, and certainly not in the 2018 sense of the word.
When the original “Fab Five” debuted in 2003, it was a smash hit that announced Bravo as the reality TV behemoth it is today. Led by the dynamite Carson Kressley, the show succeeded due to a clever premise, its debut during the advent of reality TV, and the dearth of gay people onscreen. In 2003, seeing five gay men on one show was nothing short of groundbreaking. Netflix launched a reboot with an all-new cast earlier this year, eschewing the second half of the Bravo title for the leaner “Queer Eye” — but it kept what was disingenuous.
Reclaiming - Queer - Activist - Group - Queer
Originally a pejorative, the reclaiming of “queer” can be traced to the activist group Queer Nation, which was founded in 1990 by members of the HIV/AIDS advocacy group ACT UP. Its origins made it more of a political label than a sexual identity, a connotation it maintains to this day. “Queer” eventually evolved into a gender neutral term for LGBT people of all stripes: It was easier to say, and included the vast spectrum of gender representations. However, plenty of LGBT people do not identify as queer, hence the acronym’s amendment to LGBTQ.
While it’s never good practice to assume someone’s identity, positioning five cisgender gay men as the standard-bearers of queerness in 2018 is regressive and reductive. Netflix couldn’t find a transgender guy with a flair for pattern mixing and bow ties? Or a butch **** contractor to do the heavy lifting on the home makeovers? How about a non-binary person who pairs fabulous heels with their five o’clock shadow? If queerness at its core aims to decenter...
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