Queer and facing rejection? The Fab 5 have something to tell you
Religion and the LGBTQ+ community have long been at odds, and even as pride month sees the rainbow flag fly freely, many queer people still have to face a ton of backlash from members of the church.
It’s a reality that cannot be denied especially in the Philippines, where members of the LGBTQ+ community still face either half-baked tolerance or flat-out rejection from the deeply religious majority.
As they always do, the men of Queer Eye are ready to uplift those who have been shut out by their families and communities because of religion.
“You just really have to realize that people are rejecting you because of their own ignorance, and not you,” Queer Eye’s resident interior designer Bobby Berk told Rappler and other press at a conference call ahead of the show’s season 2 premiere.
Bobby himself has gone through his own struggles with the church – and even opens up about them on the show. In the fifth episode of season 1, he shared how Christianity was such a huge part of his life growing up, but that the church he went to had such a negative view on homosexuality that at one point, he even begged God to not make him gay.
His strained relationship with religion resurfaces in the second season of the show as the Fab 5 continue to transform lives in Georgia.
Bobby said that those who have been rejected because of religion need to keep loving themselves even as they face hatred and rejection.
“You need to continue to love yourself and to find those people around you that will love you for who you are and accept you for who you are,” he said. “You know in our community, we often have to find what we call our ‘found family,’ people out there who will love you unconditionally, and just have faith that your family will come around.”
Bobby said he didn’t speak to his family for a few years after he came out, but that they eventually reconnected.
“Eventually they came around and they realized that the views of the church against homosexuality were not right and that they need to love me unconditionally. So believe in yourself, know that it’s not you, it’s them,” he said.
Grooming guy Jonathan Van Ness also pointed out that the Catholic church in particular is slowly becoming more tolerant.
“I also believe that the Catholic Church is making, definitely slow but steady strides going to more inclusive place and a more tolerant place on people in alternative lifestyles,” he said.
Jonathan also talked about his own experience with faith, saying that while the love of people may waver, the love of his god doesn’t.
“I think that similarly, in my experience with my faith and religion – I grew up in a really religious house and I grew up with a lot of faith – god never moves,” he said. “People move, god doesn’t move.”
“If you’re feeling rejected by your church or your family, just know that your god or your higher power still loves you just as much as he did before you came out, and it’s really important to hold on to that as well,” he said.
Food and wine expert Antoni Porowski added that not all Catholic communities are closed-off to queer people. “I often don’t like to touch on religion, I think that it’s something very personal, but I think that there are examples of Catholicism being practiced and preached in other parts of the world where the message is inclusivity,” he said.
“My partner’s parents are devout Catholics and they’re very open-minded and they unconditionally love their son so there are examples of that around the world and I think it’s an opportunity to reach out and sort of see what other people are doing out there,” he added.
If all else fails to comfort, Bobby had one last thing to say: “Mahal kita, Philippines!” – which in a way says that love is the best answer to ignorance and hate.
More inclusive season
The first season of Queer Eye became a run away hit for its heartwarming episodes that had viewers reaching for the tissues – and the second season is no different, perhaps even more so as it becomes more diverse and more inclusive. (READ: ’Queer Eye' is back and ready to save us from ourselves)
In the upcoming season, the episodes become more of an educational platform, as the Fab 5 themselves go through various learning experiences – and take the audience along with them.
Anyone watching should not only prepare to cry, but also to gain more insight on people from different backgrounds.
“I think that’s what makes the show relatable, is that we don’t profess to know everything about everything,” fashion guru Tan France said. “I think it’s really important to say I don’t know about this and I want to inform myself, I want to educate myself.”
“We realized that we are more alike than different,” culture expert Karamo Brown summed up, when asked what he learned from working with a more diverse set of people in the upcoming season.
“We all just want love…it’s all about people that want to connect and find love.”
Queer Eye season 2 premieres on Netflix on June 15. – Rappler.com