Babylon 2012 (Revisited)

 

Who can forget HBO’s Queer as Folk back in the day? It was the first show which showed how gay men had fun, their interpersonal relationships, their issues with self-esteem and confidence, drug abuse and most of all their sexual encounters which, though they may have been a tad overdone, were indeed part of our bar-culture. I remember as well the voices of dissent coming from the community itself (which surprised me to say the least) accusing the show of exploiting a very small group of our community and making it the norm for the rest of us. Their voice of dissent was fear, that by using such stereotypes, the show was causing more harm than good as far as “straightening” up the distorted image of how the straight world perceived us.

Of course, as always, I was the voice who went against such accusations because for the first time I saw a show which tried to encompass it all, all of us, in a way or another, and at the same time I was glad to see gay men have fun after years of watching gay-themed movies of LGBT Queer community dying, fighting injustice and trying to stay alive. I would never take anything away from the struggle of our community as a whole through the decades, but it was time we saw a different point of view of a world which “outsiders” new very little about or nothing at all.

It was time that the bathhouses became a topic of conversation, considering how much time gay men have spent in them for decades. At the same time it showed something which very few people (including the LGBT community) really understood, that by going to Babylon we entered our own little ghettos and only there we were able to be what we couldn’t in everyday world. That belief, that though gay bars, bathhouses, sex shops, back alleys and so forth, were indeed our little ghettos where the rest of society would prefer us to stay then of course show pride in the streets.

I will never forget the looks I got in downtown Chicago years back while walking with my friend hand in hand, just because we were not in our “neighborhood”. It was a lesson for me as much as for the by walkers that I refused to be seen as only a Boystown kid, and wanted more from life. If the young straight couple in front of me or friends walking down the streets could show affection towards each other without fear of reprisal, why couldn’t I do the same? After all love for your friends, your boyfriend, your lover and partner is as much part of our world as it is for the rest of it, and I REFUSE to be censured for what I like to do and who I like to be and who I like to show affection to.

This photoshoot by photographer Werner Prinsloo is a dedication to the show which changed television forever, and I wish there were new shows like Queer as Folk, to show our community today, with all the new challenges faced by all of us in 2012. Enjoy it. – Lucianus 2012

Werner Prinsloo – www.nineteen86.co.za

 

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