Braving the Wilds: Metronormativity in Netflix's Queer Eye
In this essay I explore how the rural South is framed in Queer Eye and how this conception of the rural South contributes to how we imagine (particular) big cities as progressive, accepting and safe for queer folks. I investigate literature in rural queer studies and consider how themes such as queer migration to the city; the concept of rural and Southern backwardness and ideas of progress linked to the city appear in Queer Eye and popular media responses to it. I ultimately pull from Christina Hanhardt to critique the idea of safety as attached to city space and draw from Cathy Cohen to challenge the depoliticized presentation of “queer” in Queer Eye. I argue that the representation of the South, particularly the rural South, in Queer Eye reflects and contributes to the conceptualization of the rural South as backward and inhospitable to queer folks. I explore how Queer Eye proposes a specific type of queer aesthetic, and I argue presents queer as a depoliticized identity. This conceptualization works to erase how the city is only imagined as progressive in contrast to a backward rural imaginary. This framing both overlooks the queer folks who do live in places believed inhospitable to them and simultaneously leaves our conceptions of progress and acceptance located in the city unexamined.