Queer Eye Opens The Heart

[ 3 Minute Read ]

I'm human. You're human. I will encourage you, cheer you on, and show you the self you aren't able to see quite yet.

These practices encompass some of the greatest gifts we can offer a fellow human.

This is what moved me so much about Queer Eye - a Netflix reboot modeled after Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which debuted 15 years ago.

My first confession is that it doesn't take much for me to shed a tear. I try to shy away from ASPCA commercials for a reason. It cuts too deep, too quick, and while I love a good cry, it's not the best thing to watch before heading to work.

In the first episode of Queer Eye we meet a raspy-voiced, fifty-something man from Georgia named Tom, with a thick accent and bushy beard. Not a roughneck. More like a cuddly, southern Winnie the Pooh of sorts. A disheveled Pooh, but still with a heart of gold.

What's so moving about this "makeover" show is that the Fab 5 (aka the five gay lifestyle experts) resist the urge to approach each person from a place of "you're bad, let's fix you". Lord knows all queer people have heard some variation of that message too many times to count.

Instead, it's from a kind-hearted, generous place of what's been going on for you? Who do you want to become? What might we uncover? What is your story? What got you here? It's a gentle dance as opposed to a whiplash.

More shoulder-to-shoulder, let's walk through this together, versus slapping on surface-level concealer that leaves the spirit untouched.

In each segment of the episode, Tom approached the Fab 5's advice with lightheartedness and grace. Tom's funniest lines were often repeated: DAYUMMM!! and YOU GUYS!!!!! An over-pouring of astonishment and bewilderment about these queer men doing their thing in the hot, humid heart of Georgia.

In each episode, the Fab 5 parts ways with the person they've worked with. This episode had a particularly emotional send-off. These few lines sent me rushing for the tissues:

Karamo: For the first couple of days, you kept saying, "You can't fix ugly"...and it broke my heart. We have fallen in love with you...And I didn't really expect to have this moment with you. And you are such an amazing man.

A few of the guys reach out and touch Tom on the shoulder and wrist as his eyes well with tears.

Tom: You guys are making me cry.
Karamo: It's okay.
Tan: Tom, Tom. You're such a good man.

Silence. Tears. Crying.

Tom: I'm sorry. I'm going to miss all of you guys.

In that moment, five men held space for a man very different from themselves. They caringly spoke to Tom about who he really is.

The man behind the now-trimmed beard was never "ugly", even though Tom thought otherwise. 

This episode made me think about the opportunities we have each day to speak a word of genuine care into the lives of those we come in contact with. To tell people about the wonderful qualities we see in them. Odds are they may be completely blind to those positive parts of their being.

Each of us has the responsibility to see the goodness in our neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers.

This is truly healing work. A practice I want to lean into much more often.