I don’t even know how I started watching those clips on youtube but now I feel sadly nostalgic.
You know you are of a certain age when you even know what nostalgia means.
And you know you are definitely of a certain age when you are nostalgic and wonder if life was better when “you were young”.
So I was watching those Queer As Folk (QAF) clips about the old gang of Brian, Justin, Michael, Emmett and Ted. I started watching QAF at 22 when I was doing my exchange program in upstate new york. I was staying in a dorm but would go to a friend’s place to watch QAF every Sunday since I didn’t have TV. I had a miserable time those 6 months since I was so lonely but those Sundays were special to me. Every day I was so fearful, so afraid of the outside world because I was in the states for the first time, I simply didn’t know how to relate to white people.
But every Sunday night, I found my escape from reality. Things were good for an hour at least.
So I came to rely on QAF as an emotional clutch. But even then, as much as I needed the show, I never really believed in the characters as fully actualized creations. They all seemed like archetypes to me – Brian the sex god, Michael the goody boy next door, Emmett the big nelly bottom, Ted the sexless nerd, Justin the twink.
They didn’t seem real. And I did fault many of the storylines as unrealistic and contrived.
As much as I liked and depended on the show, I found so many faults with it.
I was young and demanding.
Now, older and slightly less demanding, I realized what an amazing coup the show was even to be created in the first place. It really did push the envelope and galvanized the gay community. Asking for the right to be who we are didn’t seem so outrageous after that.
And those unrealistic and silly storylines seem so much more relevant to me now. When I watched the storyline of Michael getting “married” to Ben, the 22 year old me was like “oh please, that’s silly. Just live together, what’s the point of getting married?”
And then when they “adopted” a HIV+ teenager, it was just too weird for me. I thought “why would they want to go through all these trouble?”
Now I understand.
Gay marriage, gay adoption, monogamy, coping with friends with lifestyles you don’t identity with… these are real flesh and blood issues gay people face with.
Unlike straight people who typically get married, have kids and get fat (kidding!), gay people find a myriad of lifestyles and choice can be confusing.
What do we do with our lives? Be like our straight parents i.e. get married and have kids? Be like our rebellious gay friends i.e. never settle down, have all the sex you want, possibly die alone? Is there a middle ground?
Or should we just go with the flow and not demand life conforms to any expectations?
Life’s pretty scary that way, when you go with the flow.
Or maybe that’s just my old age talking.