It was about 13 years ago since I first watched the British version of Queer as Folk, something that led to my coming out that very summer. I was 16.
Not completely out at the time, the 15-year old Nathan character was loitering in the gay district of Manchester, UK, and eventually got picked up by the much older, very sexual Stuart where the story began. Nathan didn’t just come out of the closet — he flat out exploded out of the closet, and at the time that was something I thought I had to do in my conservative Chinese family. There was just no other way.
But as much as I was trying to relate to Nathan (mostly due to our similarity in age), it was Vince, Stuart’s best friend, who completely captivated me. Geeky, handsome, and a constant giver to Stuart, it was Vince that I was most related to. Being 16 at the time, Vince seemed like the perfect man, not to mention someone I hope to eventually become.
Just recently, Queer as Folk was brought on to Netflix, and in the past week I’ve been re-watching, and re-living, the entire series.
I don’t think there’s anyone in my life, other than my friend Florent, who will quite understand my obsession with Vince. 13 years since finishing the series, I can still recite most of Vince’s dialogues. (“There’s always some new bloke, some better bloke, just waiting around the corner. That’s why you keep going out.”) He’s just as geeky, charming, and relatable as the first time I saw him on my Aiwa 12″ CRT television-VCR combo I picked up at Costco with my then-clueless dad.
Then something happened. I was surprised to find out that Stuart and Vince were not “much older” as I initially had in mind. They were actually 29. I’m 29.
Looking at where I am in life, it’s not a far-fetch to say that, Stuart aside, I have pretty much become Vince. I may not be as big of a Doctor Who fan as he is, but in terms of hitting that geeky, adorable, “I’m everybody’s friend” niche, there are at times little difference between watching him on the show and staring at myself in the mirror. (My closest friends even call me Wins for Pete’s sake.)
Stuart: You’ve done nothing Vince. You go to work, you go for a drink, you sit and watch cheap science fiction. Small and tiny world. What’s so impressive about that, what’s there to love?
Stuart: It was good enough for me.
Now, I know — there’s nothing wrong with being everybody’s friend. But there is also this side of Vince I’ve never noticed before. The part where he’s full of insecurities and how he’s constantly picking up after Stuart. What I once saw as commitment and loyalty I am now reminded of that line from Train’s Drop of Jupiter: …a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land.
Vince: Unrequited love. It’s fantastic, ’cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!
Of course, not all is bad. At the end of the day I am my own person. I have my faults just as much as my strengths, just like Vince and everybody else on the face of this blue planet. For every blunder I’ve had in the past, I’ve also had an equal amount of accomplishments with my family, my career, and in myself. The fact that I’m openly writing about my sexuality (and also sharing the link on Twitter & Facebook where my friends, family, and co-workers will see) is something I could not do even a couple years before.
Who were you at 16 and who are you now? It’s easy to think you’re still that nervous, insecure child, stagnant of any growth. But just like most things you create, it’s sometimes more helpful to give it some room and come back to look with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll be surprised to see just how much you’ve grown.