This month is the trilogy to my Queer Eye series. The last two posts talked about the significance of the current reboot Netflix series and the Fab Five. This post will highlight some of the people who were made over. What has also been truly fascinating to see is how much the “heroes” have used their experiences on Queer Eye to ‘pay it forward’ and become their own Fab Fives for others.
Season 2 hero Skyler Jay is a prime example.
His episode was groundbreaking. Skyler shared video from his transition Top surgery and was very candid in talking about the struggles he has had to face in transitioning. Skyler and Tan have a very frank and emotional conversation where Skyler talks about why transitioning was so crucial to his self-identity, self-love and acceptance. Another key moment in Skyler’s episode is when Skyler and Karamo go to the DMV. Skyler had attempted to have his gender marker changed on his Driver’s License and was cruelly denied. Armed with signed doctor’s note and Karamo, Skyler once again braves the wolves of bureaucracy. This scene highlights how very important the basic elements of life are that cisgender people have taken for granted – a driver’s license, treated with respect while going through medical procedures, and even to be comfortable buying clothes. Karamo in a voice over during the episode even states, “People are going to know that they can live and thrive and succeed because of you.”
Shortly before Skyler’s episode aired, Skyler had challenged the State of Georgia’s University system health care policies and practices towards the Transgender community. The lawsuit came after Skyler was denied coverage three times for his transition surgeries and subsequent complications afterwards. This was the first lawsuit to be filed in the South. It was just announced a few weeks ago that Skylar had won his case! A groundbreaking ruling which will allow the trans employees and students of the University of Georgia’s’ colleges to be have all their medical issues covered.
Wanda, a Season 4 hero, who is a Drill Team Instructor and has been a positive role model for her community. One of the big moments is when Jonathan and Wanda talk about her issues with her hair, more specifically traction alopecia. Jonathan treats this with care and allows Wanda to find ways to take care of her hair and gain confidence. Many viewers have talked about the importance of bringing to screen the common yet silent struggle of many sufferers of traction alopecia.
Another Season 4 hero Deanna talks about the struggles with finding her place in her cultural/ethnic community and her larger city community. Despite feeling out of place and receiving prejudice in her neighborhood, Deanna has created a foundation that focuses on art, community, and heritage. Latino Arts Foundation was given a huge boost in her episode of Queer Eye. Bobby was able to contact the Kansas City Council and secured her an office space. She has continued to thrive in the space and growing her foundation which provides opportunities for artists.
Season 3’s Jones Sisters have also taken the world by storm with their BBQ sauce. The Jones sisters are two of the only females to earn the title of Pitmaster in Kansas City. (For those non-foody peoples, Pitmaster is given to those with extreme talent in cooking on a BBQ pit, smoker, and/or grill.) They had been running a BBQ joint and during their episode Antoni and Karamo took them to start the process of mass producing their BBQ sauce. The show gave them the platform and resources to excel to the next level. The show highlights two African American women succeeding and being at the top of the game. The Jones Sisters said to the Fab Five, “You gave us tools to work with. Tools that we didn’t have, and now we have them…We are Power Women Now.” After the episode the website hosting their online orders, crashed with the amount of orders being placed. They have also been listed as one of the top 10 BBQ joints in KC and in the top 33 BBQ joints of AMERICA! They have also started to use their fame and success to help their local community and raise funds for great causes.
Another powerful hero of Season 4 Wesley Hamilton the first disabled Queer Eye. Will has organization called “Disabled But Not Really” which helps the disabled community through fitness, wellness, and mental health.
He has also become a motivational speaker. His episode is by far one of my favorites. Wes has also started to use his fame and Instagram success to highlight what it means daily to be living in a wheelchair in a society not readily accessible to him.
And on November 1st, Queer Eye premiered a 4-episode special set in Japan. Each episode is more powerful. The cultural biases, traditions, and mores that the Fab Five very sensitively deal with is impressive.
The first episode highlights Yoko, a woman who has adopted the Japanese phrase “abandoned being a woman” to open and run a hospice home after her sister died.
The Fab Five also encounter an anime artist named Kae whose trauma of being bullied has stopped her from growing up and being in the world. Kan, a young gay man struggling to find a place in his native land with his growing confidence in his sexuality.
And the last episode focuses on Makoto, a married man who is afraid his wife no longer loves him. If anything, watch “Queer Eye: We’re in Japan”
Netflix’s Queer Eye has gained popularity and has continued to find ways to endear itself to its audience. It is providing a new template for wholesome content and diverse representation. Queer Eye is making spaces for new conversations to be had about gender expectations, trauma, and self-care. For that, our airways could be all the better.
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is currently during research for an upcoming book about Japanese Interment Camps. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. Anjeanette also writes for the activist blog, Engaged Gaze. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.
Categories: Popular Culture