Entertainment

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness talks politics and religion

Queer Eye may have brought LGBTQ issues into the living rooms of millions, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood alone can win the fight for equality.

“Part of the duality of queer existence is that sometimes you can experience joy, you can experience exciting things in the midst of really difficult things,” Queer Eye host Jonathan Van Ness told me at an Emmy FYC event for Netflix’s reality makeover show. “But I think duality also applies to visibility and representation and then to people’s lived experience. I think a lot of times we tie these things together and think, ‘Oh, the representation is getting better, the visibility is getting better. Increasing visibility and representation must mean things are getting better.’”

The hard facts prove otherwise. “It’s possible that visibility and representation will increase and maybe get better in some ways, like in the entertainment industry. But at the same time, hate crimes are increasing every year,” said Van Ness. “We passed more anti-trans laws this year than all of last year, and last year was the highest ever.”

That’s why the Queer Eye teams know their series may be needed more than ever. “My theory is that we need to start talking about politics and religion and everything at the dinner table with our families,” Van Ness said. “It’s debatable, but it’s the only way it’s going to happen. You can’t do that on social media. You have to do it with people in your life or I think it’s hard to make progress unless you’re a little scared of having a difficult conversation.”

Bobby Berke admits it took him a while to speak out, even after the show made him a star. “I definitely feel more comfortable speaking about situations in my life or real-world situations to help our heroes and try to help our viewers,” he said. “Before, I was definitely very closed off. I didn’t want to talk about situations I’ve had in my life. I think I’m just a lot freer.”

So what has changed?

“Seeing how we use things that have happened to us, both good and bad, helps our heroes and our viewers because they can relate,” Berk explained. “And they can see that if we’ve been through these things and we’ve survived and we’ve made it through, so can they.”

The seventh season of the series will be filmed in New Orleans. When asked how many more seasons they will do, Anton Porovsky said: “There are more stories to tell. There are still so many different perspectives and touches of diversity – it kind of never ends, it’s something like food. There is always something new to try, talk about or discuss.”

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https://variety.com/2022/scene/columns/queer-eye-jonathan-van-ness-politics-religion-1235275671/ Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness talks politics and religion

Charles Jones

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