Looking star Russell Tovey opened up about the Queer as Folk scene that sparked his gay awakening.
Back in 1999, LGBTQIA+ TV enthusiasts were first treated to the groundbreaking Channel 4 drama – which was created by It’s A Sin’s Russell T Davies.
The show follows an openly gay trio of friends – Stuart Alan Jones (Aiden Gillen), Vince Tyler (Craig Kelly), and Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunnam) – navigating love, work and societal pressures in Manchester.
The series also featured Denise Black, Andy Devine, Jason Merrells, Esther Hall, Sara Todd, Carla Henry, Antony Cotton, and Peter O’Brien.
While Queer as Folk received mixed reviews at the time of its release, it has since been hailed as one of the best LGBTQIA+ TV dramas of all time – with many praising the series for its immersive storylines and risqué gay sex scenes.
In a recent interview with W Magazine, Tovey reflected on the cultural impact of the series and the scene that helped spark his gay awakening.
“When Queer as Folk came on in the UK, it terrified me. I remember the first episode, there was a rimming scene. I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?” I had no idea what that was,” he explained.
“It was terrifying, but so “wow!” The show felt like a light shining. I’m going to look at that light. I’m going to head towards there because that seems like a safe ground, and it’s going to explain all the things that are going on in me.”
In addition to Queer as Folk, the Juice star listed the Channel 4 film Beautiful Thing as a piece of media that helped him navigate his queerness.
“I saw a movie called Beautiful Thing when I was 15. I was watching it, my mom was upstairs and told me to go to bed, and I turned the TV off,” he explained.
“She went to bed and I put it back on mute and I was like, ‘That’s me. That’s who I am.” It made such a difference.”
While Queer as Folk only lasted for 10 episodes, its legacy lived on in the 2000 Canadian-American iteration of the same name.
Like its predecessor, the series broke major ground for LGBTQIA+ representation in mainstream media. It also received acclaim for tackling more serious subjects such as HIV/AIDS, gay parental rights, and gay marriage.
In 2022, Peacock teamed up with writer Stephen Dunn for another reboot of the series – which took place in New Orleans and followed a new crop of queer young people.
Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after one season despite receiving rave reviews from critics and viewers.