Queer as Folk first aired on Channel 4 two decades ago, inspiring hundreds of LGBT+ people to come out and be proud of who they were.
The show starred Aidan Gillen, Craig Kelly and Charlie Hunnam as three gay men living in Manchester around Canal Street tackling love and friendships, coming out and homophobia, clubbing and recreational drug use.
The British series was created by Russell T Davies and aired its first 8 episodes in 1999, and two others as part of a second series aired in February 2000—the same month the age of consent for gay sex was finally equalised.
LGBT+ rights in the UK at the time were much diminished. Section 28, the legislation banning local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality, had been in place across the country for just over a decade—it would only be repealed in Scotland on June 21, 2000, then for the rest of the UK on November 18, 2003. Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were only legalised in 2004.
For many fans, Queer as Folk was the first positive representation of LGBT+ people. Hundreds of people celebrated the show’s 20th birthday on social media, sharing memories of how watching Queer as Folk made them feel seen, understood, not alone.
Several fans recalled having to watch the show hiding from their parents, often with the audio turned off.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since
#QueerAsFolk. I remember having to sneak upstairs to watch it, so scared of being caught. I was only 12. No one knew I was gay, I barely knew. The show helped me so much. I’m grateful for how much LGBTQ+ progress we’ve made since,” wrote Pride in London producer Tom Knight wrote.
Queer as Folk inspired LGBT+ fans to come out
Others credited Queer as Folk for their decision to come out.
“I came out TWENTY YEARS AGO this week after watching the 1st episode of #QueerAsFolk! I still remember feeling utterly scared that my friends would drop me, why would they want to be friends with a #gay. Luckily, it brought us closer & I will never forget their loving responses,” wrote Twitter user Mister Adam.
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“As I’m sure it was for many others, Queer As Folk was groundbreaking for me and the exploration.”
— Twitter user Jamie Neish
“As I’m sure it was for many others, #QueerAsFolk was groundbreaking for me and the exploration – and acceptance – of my own sexuality. Also it offered a true-to-life lens into friendships, sex, life. At its time, it was a milestone – and I’m glad it’s celebrated as such,” another Twitter user, Jamie Neish, wrote.
“I loved this show, I remember at the time it felt exciting to watch something that showed gay and lesbian people as the central characters, their lives and community. Many gay guys I know say this show was important to them growing up. Oh and 20 years…I feel old! #QueerAsFolk” commented Twitter user Amy.
“I discovered #QueerAsFolk on 4OD just as I started to realise I wasn’t going to grow out of being gay – that it was permanent. I spent so long wishing it was temporary and then QAF showed me a different experience to what I thought life would be like – one full of friendships,” recalled Malachy O’Grady on Twitter.
Queer as Folk fans wish for a reboot—and they’re getting one
Some social media commentators took the opportunity to ask for a reboot, a rerun of the original series, or a reunion show—anything to satisfy their nostalgia.
“Can you believe there is only 10 episodes of
#QueerAsFolk? I remember watching it for the first time (age 13) and I was shocked but hooked at the same time madness that it debuted 20 years ago today. There needs to be a four part reunion show or something…” Gemma wrote on Twitter.
“Happy 20th Birthday
#QueerAsFolk The show gave 18yo me the confidence to come-out and a pithy quote for every occasion. I’d absolutely love a reboot, but maybe a show so perfect should be left alone” wrote Twitter user TheTalentedMrCrispy.
These fans may rejoice—it was reported in December that reboot of the show is in the works at Bravo, featuring series creator Davis as executive producer.