Queer As Folk confidential

In revealing answers to our questions about the first four seasons of Showtime's hit series, QAF cast members and the show’s creators talk about whether they like their characters, what they’d change about the show, and how QAF has changed television forever.

BY Wenzel Jones

June 22 2004 12:00 AM ET

Randy Harrison

1. What has been the biggest evolution in your
character’s personality or life situation since
he first appeared?
Finishing puberty, losing his virginity, and leaving home.

2. If your character was a real person, would you be his
friend? Why or why not?
It’s difficult for me to imagine Justin as a real
person. He’s so thoroughly a character created
for serial television that his behavior, though
dramatically justified on Queer as Folk, would
register as childish, self-obsessed and absurd if it were
displaced into the reality I’m familiar with.
How could I be friends with someone who has nervous
breakdowns at spilled marinara sauce, assaults high
school enemies with small firearms, and has been
systematically and repeatedly betrayed, lied to,
condescended to, and humiliated by his boyfriend for
four years? Were I placed into the TV wonderland of
Queer as Folk, on the other hand, Justin and I
would fuck once, realize we were twins separated at
birth, and try to get our parents back together using
elaborately quirky schemes. I’d most like to tell
Justin to calm down. Maybe get him into a yoga class.

3. What’s the one challenge or blessing you hope
your character faces in a future episode?
First off, I think Justin is old enough and financially
stable enough at this point to have his own apartment.
But, codependent as he is, I’m sure Justin
would get a large dog right away, probably a pit bull
named Harvey. Those would be two blessings. A challenge
Justin might face would be dealing with the
ramifications of having his cell phone stolen when he
went out at 4 o’clock one morning to innocently walk
Harvey and ended up giving a mugger a blow job in a public
park lavatory.

4. What single scene or episode so far has been the most
meaningful or memorable for you?
I’ll always remember having to fake jack-off at
gunpoint, because it was so upsetting to me that I
didn’t fake cum or even really fake ‘get
it up,’ so we had to reshoot it.

5. What have you learned about yourself by playing Justin?
What I’ve learned most while working on Queer
as Folk
has come really indirectly, less from
playing Justin Taylor than from dealing with press,
corporations, advertisers, the gay community, and fans
of the show. I’ve learned the necessity of constantly
realigning your perspective and the importance of standing
up for yourself and being constantly aware that people
are going to skew and censor you in order to make the
idea of you better represent whatever agenda
they’ve decided you’ll promote. And
it’s all done so matter-of-factly, its such the
status quo, that it becomes very simple to accept even
though it completely corrodes the soul.

6. What do you think is the biggest issue facing American
gays and lesbians right now, and how well do you
think Queer as Folk has done in addressing
that issue?
I think the biggest issues facing Americans period, both
queer and not, are the environment, the economy, and
the war in Iraq. While I think Queer as Folk
has done a remarkable job addressing gay-specific
politics, most notably gay marriage, it seems to ignore the
fact that we are part of a global community of human
beings even before we are part of a local community of homosexuals.

7. Drawing from your contact with gay and lesbian fans
and the other gay people in your life, in what
ways do you think Queer as Folk has
influenced the gay community?
The most significant feedback I get tends to be from
queer teens, often closeted, who feel isolated in
various ways and have found that watching Queer as
Folk
relieves some of that tension and loneliness.
I view the gay community as something so large, fluid and
diverse that it’s impossible to make a statement like
“The show has affected this entire group in
this one specific way,” but the letters I read
from individuals are things that I know have happened,
and they demonstrate to me the difference the show has made
in at least a handful of gay lives

8. In what ways do you think Queer as Folk has
influenced the portrayals of gays and lesbians on
other TV programs?
I really couldn’t say. I’m going to
imagine not enough.

9. You’ve heard the complaints about the show from
some viewers and critics. What one complaint bugs
you the most and why?
I find it ridiculous when people talk about Queer as
Folk
like it’s supposed to carry some
enormous humanitarian agenda. It’s a fucking TV
show! No one expects The O.C. to change the
world! It’s strange to me that because the show is
predominately gay that characters and gay story lines are
held to a completely different standard. The medium in
itself is only capable of so much, and generally it
only aspires to a specific level of artistry and entertainment.

10. What’s next for you? Where else can QAF
fans see your work in the future?
I’m doing a Broadway show. I might be done with
it by the time this comes out, I’m not sure.

Michelle Clunie

1. What has been the biggest evolution in your
character’s personality or life situation
since she first appeared?
The biggest evolution in my character’s life
since the beginning would be the decision she made to
carry her second child. Not only did this put her in a
more vulnerable position, but it also forced her to
rethink her priorities with regard to how hard she pushes
herself. She was forced to slow down, and slow is
not something Melanie understands.

2. If your character was a real person, would you be her
friend? Why or why not? What’s the one
thing you would most like to say to Melanie?
If Melanie were a real person, we would most likely be
very good friends. I enjoy surrounding myself with
people who tell it like it is. She also has a very
true heart, which is rare to find. I have a very
eclectic group of friends, but the one thing they all have
in common is that they all have very big hearts. If
she were my friend, I would tell her to be more gentle
with herself.

3. What’s the one challenge or blessing you hope
your character faces in a future episode?
I would love to see my character get a case that goes
all the way to the Supreme Court.

4. What single scene or episode so far has been the most
meaningful or memorable for you?
I still and always will love the scene from the first
season when we are in the hospital, and they
won’t let Melanie go back with Linz and the
baby. It was raw and true and right.

5. What have you learned about yourself by playing Melanie?
I have learned through playing Melanie that people
respond more to strength than weakness. We all are
looking for heroes.

6. What do you think is the biggest issue facing American
gays and lesbians right now, and how well do you
think Queer as Folk has done in addressing
that issue?
I think equal rights is the biggest issue facing gays
and lesbians. We address this issue in almost every episode.

7. Drawing from your contact with gay and lesbian fans
and the other gay people in your life, in what
ways do you think Queer as Folk has
influenced the gay community?

Queer as Folk has had a very big impact on the
community. It has stirred up plenty of interesting
conversations between various demographics, by which I
mean people outside the community. Mothers and fathers
have come together with their children and have begun
to talk again and to understand them. It has forced
people to think and has encouraged talking and
opening up the channels of communication. It has made
room for other less intimidating gay programming to be
readily accepted. To create that sort of an impact one
cannot be timid or meek, but bold and in-your-face. Change
does not happen easily, it takes balls, and
that’s what Queer as Folk has. Both
literally and figuratively: balls.

8. In what ways do you think Queer as Folk has
influenced the portrayals of gays and lesbians on
other TV programs?
Refer to number 7.

9. You’ve heard the complaints about the show from
some viewers and critics. What one complaint bugs
you the most and why?
Everyone is entitled to their opinions. It is still a
free country. Well, sort of. I am not interested
in doing bland, boring, conventional work or safe
work. Safe is not something that interests me.

10. What’s next for you? Where else can QAF
fans see your work in the future?
I am currently shooting a film this summer titled,
“The Unseen.”

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