Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Love Affair With Stuart Alan Jones

Nathan: And I'm not gonna change.
You know that, don't you?
Cos it isn't a phase.
I'm not gonna grow out of it.
I'm gonna be gay forever

On February 23, 1999 a series based on the gay culture in Manchester's Canal Street area first aired in the UK. Queer as Folk UK ran for only two seasons, giving us only ten episodes, but it remains one of the foremost important shows for gay culture.* 

The main characters Stuart Alan Jones (Aidan Gillen), long time friend and Dr. Who loving Vince Tyler (Craig Kelly), and  teenager Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunnam) brought Canal Street  culture into the mainstream for many. To me it is a time capsule of a bygone era. Think about it, the thought of gay marriage seemed like something of a dream. Many of the stereotypes of gay culture were outed: one night stands, parties and drugs. But it also confronted the conflicting moment of finally coming out with possibly one of the best scenes ever in television, if not for how Stuart comes out, but how he also exposes his nephew for being the creepy blackmailer that he is.  

For me, it was all Stuart Alan Jones. I had loved Aidan Gillen since I saw him in Some Mother's Son, but he made Stuart the hedonistic, self-absorbed, sad, confused gay man, father, lover, and enemy who blows up people's cars. The man, who in Episode Four said he wanted to "die shagging", became almost a gay superhero in this show.

He's not perfect, although he thinks he is; he's capable of having feelings of love, but fights them all the way; and there is no denying that he is definitely as sexy as he believes he is - and beyond. Seriously, have you seen him dancing? Have you seen that smile?  

Vince is a whole ball of confusion in the series. He truly does love Stuart, not like Nathan thinks he loves Stuart, but really loves him. He does wait for him to finally face the truth, after testing him with the older Cameron.
And last - Nathan. While controversy was abound about how young Nathan was for 29 year old Stuart, I think Nathan personified a generation fighting for acceptance just as he was. Teenagers are confused to begin with. Being gay and a teenager, knowing that once you come out people will both turn on you and accept you is undeniably terrifying. But Nathan seemed to have no fear and even risked his family's relationship. His relationship with Stuart and Vince was also, at times, a bit awkward.

Eighteen years have gone by. I would love to see where this story would begin now. Where is Nathan? Whatever became of Stuart and Vince in London? What would the shag map look like now, Stuart?

*The US version, based in Pittsburgh followed the end of this series and lasted for five seasons  on Showtime.  This series tackled serious LGBT topics such as HIV/ AIDs, gay bashing, adoption, and discrimination. 

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