Queer as Folk creator Stephen Dunn explained why the show’s title is an “incredibly powerful” reclamation of what was once a homophobic slur and why the series “dealt with the real issues of what it is to be queer” so boldly.

Last year, the NBC-owned streaming platform Peacock revealed that it would be creating a new version of the British drama.

It served as a revival of the series created by Russell T Davies, which revolved around three gay men living in Manchester.

The success of the original show spawned an American reboot that was set in Pittsburgh and aired on Showtime in the early 2000s.

Two decades later, Dunn’s creation has pushed the series in a new direction while staying true to what fans originally loved about it.

“Well, Queer as Folk has really always historically dealt with the real issues of what it is to be queer,” he told GAY TIMES.

“I mean, we actually are almost picking up where the American version left off in a way because it ends with an attack on Babylon.

“I hate that the show is as relevant as it is, but I think it’s still an incredibly important story to tell because we are living in this time right now. This is the reality of America.”

Despite the ground-breaking nature of the original series, it faced fierce criticism for primarily focusing on white characters and straight actors playing gay roles.

This lack of diversity is something Dunn was keen to change in his reimagining of Queer as Folk.

“There were a lot of stories that I felt – and characters – that are directly a part of my queer family that I’ve just never seen on television before,” he explained.

He added that it was fundamental to have queer roles filled by actors who are members of the community and could identify with the lived experience they were portraying.

Dunn continued: “It was very important also to include trans and non-binary storylines at the center and having these characters be written and told and acted and performed by real members from this community.

“[It] was absolutely crucial because we want it to reflect, you know, the more authentic version of these characters…which is only something you can do when you’re working from within the community and telling those stories.”


The first episode of Queer as Folk made headlines in 2022 after it opened with a mass shooting at a crowded gay club.

Dunn stated that the team “intentionally never show the act of violence” as “that’s not the story that we want to tell.”

“What I wanted was to tell the story about a community rebuilding and how we do that and how we move on from these kinds of events, because it is a real part of being queer in America in 2022,” he explained.

Prior to filming the episode, Dunn had a “roundtable with a community of survivors and a community of leaders who rose up into new positions in response to the attack on Pulse” nightclub in 2016.

At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman on record in the US and it remains the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBTQ+ people in the country.

Understanding how this impacted those it affected was essential to Dunn: “The bigger takeaways that really came out of it was just how different everyone responded to the PTSD, to the recovery process, you know, everyone experienced such a different path and that was something I really wanted to honour without judgement.”

He continued: “I wanted to honour those experiences while also, you know, acknowledging, we are telling a fictional story, these characters aren’t based on anyone in particular, but it is inspired by the trajectory of what it is like for a community, like Orlando, to have to rebuild in the face of this, which is something they really had to do – Orlando transformed.”


Dunn is hopeful that the show will serve as a reminder about the people at the core of acts of violence like Pulse. 

“My hope is that, by sitting with that and seeing the impact it has on these people, it can really remind us on the root of what it is that we’re actually fighting for in the lives of these queer people who are, you know, really directly affected by it,” he stated.

‘Queer’ has often been used as a derogatory slur against gay people, with Dunn admitting that he “was afraid” of the word at one point in his life.

He explained that Queer as Folk is “absolutely” a reclamation of the insult: “And so, to be able to have a show that reclaims the word in the title, it’s just so bold and it’s empowering. It’s really like, you’re taking that word away from people who might want to use it against you and that’s something that is incredibly powerful.”

The first season of Queer as Folk is streaming now on StarzPlay in the UK and Peacock in the US.