Queer as Folk creators ‘disturbed’ by backlash from gay community

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The creators of the US remake of Queer as Folk have said they were “disturbed” by the hostile reaction they got from people within the LGBT community.

The original Channel 4 series based on a group of gay friends ran for two years in the UK in 1999, while the US Showtime adaptation aired for five years until 2005.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter to celebrate ten years since the US show ended, showrunners Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman spoke about the hostile reaction they got from some parts of the gay community.

Cowen said: “Some members of the gay community were concerned that perhaps we were showing things that did not reflect the gay community in the best possible light. But our intention was to tell the truth as we knew it and to a certain degree, how we experienced it.

“That was the intention: to show the good and the questionable in a non-judgmental way. Some people loved that, other people were alarmed by it, other people were concerned that it was not putting the best foot forward in terms of the image of gay people on television or what straight people thought of gay people.

Lipman added: “There were people in the gay community who said ‘Why didn’t you do a show about two lawyers who lived in the suburbs and who were adopting children?’

“That’s not what the network bought. The network bought Queer as Folk and they wanted Queer as Folk, meaning it was about a group of young men and women in their 20s exploring their lives.

“The show really was about boys becoming men. If it was about young straight guys in their 20s, that would be about sex, too. Because it was flipped over — they were gay guys — a lot of people felt uncomfortable with it.”

Cowen added: “We were disturbed by the reaction from certain people in the gay community and certain organizations that had issues with the show. But I think that’s because they felt we were not portraying the gay community in a way they wanted it portrayed. They had a certain political agenda and we were not fulfilling that. But that was not our purpose.

“On the other hand, there were responses to the show that we were not expecting that completely surprised us and that’s the reaction from the straight community and from women.

“That amazed and delighted us because that seemed really out of the blue. No one had expected that the show would have the enormous crossover audience it has and still does.

He continued: “It took us several years to appreciate that our female audience was even more important than the gay audience was.

“It occurred to us that a lot of those women are mothers or were going to be mothers and if they are in any way sensitized to what it is to have a gay child and what gay children have to grow up with, and if they are a little more sensitive and aware because of having watched Queer as Folk, that’s really important that they pass that on to their children.

“Gay people are the only minority group who do not share their minority with their parents. That’s something to consider because it means that gay kids are very isolated.”

The pair also recently said they were “open” to the possibility of a reboot, based on the older existing characters and a new younger generation.

Daniel Lipman said: “We’d be open to it, depending on the venue of a reboot.

“I think what would be interesting would be to explore our characters who are now in their 40s and bringing in a new generation and seeing how that mix would go.”