NPR Story
1:56 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Did 'Queer Eye' Help Change Society's Perceptions of Gay Men?

2013 has seen the LGBT community make incredible political progress: the Supreme Court overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act and states including Minnesota and — after a long legal battle — California, legalized same-sex marriage, bringing the total number of states that recognize same-sex marriage to 18.

Part of the progress toward gay rights, scholars and activists have noted, is increased visibility of LGBT people. That’s where  “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” comes in. The program debuted on the Bravo cable channel ten years ago.

The reality show featured the “fab five” — five gay men who would make over a person, usually a straight man, giving him tips on grooming, conduct, fashion, food and design.

“Queer Eye” was an instant hit, and its self-proclaimed experts — Ted Allen on food and wine, Carson Kressley on fashion, Kyan Douglas on grooming, Thom Felicia on home design and Jai Rodriguez on culture — became stars.

The show brought friendly, approachable gay men into living rooms across America on a weekly basis, and made its way into the cultural conversation. For some Americans, the show was like meeting an openly gay person for the first time.

“For a lot of people, the power of being out and being visible is that somebody knows a gay person,” Kressley told  Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “And for a lot of people who watched our show — it was innocuous it was a makeover show — but TV is very intimate, and we might have been the first gay people that they felt like they knew.”

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