Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski says he’s ‘old school’ about sexuality

Joseph McCormick February 27, 2018
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Queer Eye has touched the hearts of many since it was rebooted by Netflix and released earlier this year.

And the show’s food and wine expert Antoni Porowski attracted an instant and committed fan-base with his soft-spoken expert words, good lucks and charm.

He has now opened up about how he is “old school” when it comes to sex, about his realisisation that he had never been called a “fag”, and the differences between his life story and those of his cast-mates.

RELATED: Fans of Queer Eye have shed many tears and called it ‘pure and life-affirming’

*Spoilers for the first season of Queer Eye on Netflix below… if you haven’t binged on it already*

Speaking to GQ, which he also posed for a photoshoot for, he also opens up about changing lives with his accessible and simple recipes and visiting food markets in the South where he could have been attacked for his sexual orientation.

But on his realisation through talking to the other cast-members, Antoni says he was shocked when they said they had been called homophobic slurs like ‘fag’ before, and he had not.

He tells GQ: “I remember it was our first day of filming, and we were in the car heading to Tom Jackson’s. The guys were discussing being called a fag, and no one’s ever called me that before.

“I felt this weird discomfort of, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what that’s like. I’ve heard about it, but I’ve never really experienced it.’

“I was raised in Montreal, which is very multicultural, very liberal. Then I moved to New York. I’ve always been really sheltered, so to hear their stories, it really had me thinking a lot of the kind of life that I want to lead and the fact that this show came about and the responsibility that comes with it.”

Saying he is learning about prejudice at the age of 33, and the affect it has on young people, he adds: “I’m learning it at the age of 33, whereas a lot of gay kids out there have to learn it at a much younger age, which is just really shitty and really upsets me.”

Asked if it was a culture shock visiting the small markets in the South, he said: “I’d lived in West Virginia on and off for four to five years growing up. I’m familiar with Bible Belt, with Appalachia, Hillbilly Elegy.

“I didn’t go in completely blind, but the way that I come off… I come off as a white straight dude to a lot of people, so I never had to deal with any of those pressures of even gay bullying.”

Going on, he says: “My sexuality’s something that’s intimate. It’s not anything that I’m ashamed of. I don’t know many people who have a path similar to mine, so I’ve always been a little more reticent to be as open about it. I’m also not somebody who talks about sexuality that much. I’m a little old school in that sense.”

Adding that he is “not as knowledgeable about the struggle for gay rights, for our history the way some of my castmates or other gay men I know are. It’s been an opportunity. I’m also a book nerd, and I love to read, so it’s been a really great opportunity to brush up on my lit.”

He says he is reading books to learn more about gay culture and history.

Of Trying to help change people’s lives through the short time he has with them on Queer Eye, Antoni refers to Tom, from episode one, who lives with lupus, and how he tried to make a menu for him which was simple to make and which would help him manage the condition.

“Tom told us that he had lupus, so I knew that we had to take a little bit more of a dietary, health and wellness, self-care approach. It didn’t make it to the episode, but we made a really beautiful lemonade with charred rosemary and thyme.

“There’s so much that you can do with food. I think it was more reactive, figuring out what that person needed.

“With Tom, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist, but MS is in my family. It’s an autoimmune disease. We know that nightshades have been linked to inflammation, so I learned about what nightshades are while Jonathan was learning about skincare regimens for this guy. We would go YouTube and Google a bunch of stuff.

Continuing to say that Tom smokes cigarettes which are a nightshade and eating lots of foods like garlic, aubergines and peppers, which are nightshades too, Antoni says he created a totally nightshade-free menu for Tom to help him to manage the inflamation which comes with lupus.

RELATED: Georgia could face TV industry boycott over anti-gay adoption bill

“It’s not a cooking show. It’s not about my skillset. It’s about figuring out how we can contribute to the lives of these people in a very short amount of time. It has to be very fact based and in a simple way. If you just have these people start thinking differently about the food, I think then I’m happy with that. Then I feel like my job is done if that curiosity is there.”

Antoni also reflects on being away from his boyfriend of seven years, Joey, and how he would ask him to visit from New York because he is anxious to fly.

He also says the cast would grill food on the rooftop of the lofts they were stayng at and that the creators of the show would come down and join them when they were visiting like “a nice substitute for a family.”

Of the cast, he says he didn’t have a gay friendship group before going onto Queer Eye.

He says: “It took me a while after coming out to also find my people, and I wonder if you’ve ever taken a step back to figure out why that was the case for you?

“I mean, yeah. I think it has to do with the fact that my path is also very different from that of my castmates. I’ve had more lasting relationships with women than I’ve had with men. I’ve had two real relationships with men and actually dated a guy, and then I went back to girls for several years. Now I’m in my relationship now as of seven years.”

Antoni also says he occasionally catches a glimpse of social media and news articles about him but normally when he is sent things by friends. He says he “catastrophises” when he gets sent them and generally is made by his manager to not check the internet to read about himself.

The first season of Queer Eye, the reboot, is available to watch on Netflix now.

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