‘Queer Eye’ Stars on How to Talk to ‘All Lives Matter’ People
Jonathan, Antoni and Karamo weigh in on the Black Lives Matter movement
In this current moment of civil unrest and racial tension, Queer Eye stars Karamo Brown (culture), Jonathan Van Ness (grooming) and Antoni Porowski (food and wine) are speaking out and up about the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of self-care in sustaining the fight for justice. Their Emmy Award-winning Netflix show, a reboot of the original that also features Bobby Berk (interior design) and Tan France (fashion), has been a model for moving through the world the best you can and by showing up as your best self. So the fifth season, currently on Netflix, couldn’t have come at a better time.
For the 10 episodes in the current season, the Fab Five headed east to Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, to offer confidence and encouragement to a diverse group of their heroes seeking ways to improve their lives, from a gay pastor to a struggling Black entrepreneurial dog groomer.
Interviewer Chris Azzopardi caught up with Van Ness, Brown and Porowski, who weighed in on the Black Lives Matter movement and how to talk to “All Lives Matter” people.
Nice to meet you all virtually in the Zoom world.
First question is are you guys wearing pants on this Zoom interview?
Karamo and Antoni both show that they are wearing shorts and Jonathan is wearing a skirt.
I know this is a heavy time to talk about Queer Eye, and I have seen your Instagram posts which were very moving, but I want you all to know that you show the world what the world can be through what you do. Talking about the show, on it you talk about how self-care is necessary in order to recharge and fight for justice. Right now, how are you guys taking care of yourselves and each other?
Karamo – I am in a space where I check in with myself constantly and I am ready to fight and try and educate people and I think we are all in that space. Also it’s ok to say “today I need and hour or two or the whole day to recharge by going outside, dancing, doing the arts or doing something that makes you feel good.” This is what the message of Queer Eye is. If you don’t take care of yourself than you can’t support other people. I do this myself, and then I come back stronger and fight for equality and justice which is what we should all be doing.
Antoni – For me it’s a tricky balance as I feel like I have so much to learn and I have a responsibility to educate myself and that’s sort of my version of self-care and making myself feel a tiny bit less useless. I have been fostering a dog, which has been incredibly helpful to have something to take care for…adopt don’t shop. I have also been cooking a lot, which is something I haven’t been able to do the last few years with our crazy schedule. This has made me feel better. I just recently got back to New York and the next morning I went to a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington Square Park, which made me feel like I was part of a community. To be out there with people who are doing something about this was really helpful for me.
Jonathan – I think Quarantine had me fall in love with gardening and I am obsessed with it; that’s my self-care thing. I have also been cooking a lot. I also think that Covid-19 slowed down so much of the travelling and that BLM has stepped back into the forefront – thank god – I am grateful I have some of my jobs (podcast) so I can be engaged in it.
There is a lot of us who have “All Lives Matter” people in our families and we need to change their thoughts. What kind of conversations would you have with these people to change their minds and make them understand?
Jonathan – Personally I have been fighting those people for so long, as I do come from a rural Midwestern town. “13th” is a really good 90 minutes for someone who does not understand how slavery and Jim Crow has affected us, and has gotten us to where we are now. There are many other incredible resources, and we have to keep talking about it. You can’t watch 13th and come away not super moved and understanding the systematic oppression black people have faced in this country since its inception..
Karamo – I would take it from an emotional state and say to them “what are you scared you’re going to lose by saying this other person’s life is of value. Because, there is a fear there. They feel like it’s taking away from them. What are you going to lose by helping someone else be seen and supported. And then say, what would you gain emotionally by seeing someone else feel loved and supported? By helping them understand that the loss is not real but the gain can be so monumental for African Americans, and people of color. If anybody is still in a space where you don’t want to give people their equal rights, what are you scared you are going to lose?
Antoni – If you educate yourself it becomes undeniable. There is no shortage of podcasts or documentary’s. I just watched “I am not your Negro,” and I have been listening to “The 1619 Project” from the New York Times, which is fantastic. Once you hear all of these facts put together rather than tiny little snippers, it becomes so much harder to debate. It’s educating ourselves, and every single one of us has a responsibility to do that.
Thanks guys and thanks for giving so much hope, love, and diversity and inclusion to your work. Its much appreciated by be and everyone that knew I was going to be talking to you today.
Season 5 of “Queer Eye” is currently on Netflix.