I mentioned Queer as Folk in a previous post about its creator Russel T Davies but I think it’s about time this groundbreaking TV programme got its own post. British LGBT TV history can be talked about in terms of pre/post-Queer as Folk such was its impact on gay programming. It was the first show of its kind, a no-holds barred glimpse into contemporary gay life, with storylines including; being ‘out’ in the workplace, gay parentage and gay sex.
Queer as Folk first hit our screens back in 1999 on Channel 4, it follows the lives of three gay men living in Manchester; Stuart, Vince and Nathan. Stuart is a powerful, beautiful and always gets we he wants, his best friend Vince is a lot more reserved and gentle but hopelessly (and unrequitedly) in love with Stuart. Vince’s affectations are put under further strain when young Nathan comes along and starts a relationship with Stuart. The series takes us on the journey of these three men’s intertwined relationships with each other.
The show provoked somewhat of a media storm and was even publicly denounced by gay rights group Stonewall for portraying negative stereotypes of gay men. This is a criticism often thrown at QAF and granted, there’s a lot of drug use, a lot of promiscuity and some would argue, little else but like it or not, this is a part of gay culture that exists and all Davies did was portray three men living in it. Ultimately, the more nuanced and diverse gay programming that we’re seeing today would not have been possible if it weren’t for Queer as Folk,
Queer as Folk only lasted 2 short series on British TV but was picked up by the Americans who created their own version. The first series was almost identical to the British version, albeit slightly more glamorous, but as the series continued for 5 series it really came into its own with interesting plotlines and character development.
The series can be watched for free on 4od, here.