Every once in a while, a program comes along that changes your life. One that touches someplace deep inside, revealing realities and ideas you never had or thought possible.
On my second trip to London to visit A, he left me with a couple of VCR tapes of a show that had turned the U.K. upside down. Gay men and the "lifestyle" were shown raw, imperfections and all. We were real. I was real. What I felt was real, and others felt it too.
From the first minute of Queer As Folk, I couldn't stop watching. Sightseeing was set aside and I stayed in all day. I was mesmerized, invited into a world so different from my own yet so familiar. It was long before Showtime agreed to produce the U.S. remake. A huge risk at the time that broke ground for so much of what we take for granted today.
Even the title, a play on the British term Queer as Fuck, was controversial in its own right.
I largely credit this show with my fascination with London. I simple love it there. I miss my friends there.
The Queer As Folk cast of characters was varied. Each written and played with nuances that allowed you to see bits of yourself. A helping hand in holding up a mirror, looking at oneself, and asking, "Who am I?"
There was Stuart, the dark haired incredibly sexy Irish man whom all chased. A narcissistic egomaniac whose irresistible charm outweighed his dramatic failings. Living in the moment, all things coming easy to him. Looks, money, desirability. I envied him; wished I was more like him.
There was Vince, who I felt sorry for yet identified with the most. The nice guy who never seemed to be appreciated. Someone who pined for attention from the one man he'd never have — Stuart. He was willing to settle, to put his life in a place where okay was good enough. Potential never reached.
There was Nathan, the 15-year-old Prince William look-a-like with the world ahead of him. Troubled at school with the toughs by day, and emerging as a gay man on Canal Street in Manchester by night.
There was Cameron, the Australian in his 30's, seemingly the only one to see the beauty of Vince. Which, of course, only led Vince to question him as a man. Like the saying, I wouldn't want to be in a club that would have me as a member.
A full cast of characters, all drawn so vividly and with such realism, made me feel like I belonged. They were all dysfunctional. A place where I could fit in.
That was around 10 years ago.
I've been watching them in a rerun marathon on the Ovation channel over the past few nights. It's made me nostalgic and emotional. A time gone by for me, and a glimpse of gay life that has faded never to return.
If you get the chance, tune in. I think they're running it all day on this Sunday. Perhaps you'll be as affected as me.