Like you probably did, I came to Queer Eye to hear gay quips, make fun of schlubby straight dudes, and complain about how Karamo’s job is totally stupid. I did not come to Queer Eye for water to shoot out of my eyes like they’re the fountain in front of the Bellagio. I did not come here for real actual emotions about dead fathers and coming out. No, that is not why I am here, but now that Queer Eye has given it to me, it’s all that I ever want.
This episode’s subject is AJ, a gay man who lives in Atlanta and works on construction sites. First of all, AJ is as hot as the Georgia asphalt after a nuclear bomb. He is sexier than Cristiano Ronaldo offering to do your dishes shirtless. He is goofier than a game of Pokémon Go at a clown academy. In short, I love AJ and I want to marry him. Yes, he has a partner who is just as tall and brawny as he is, but that is not going to stop me. I am going to make AJ mine.
The funny thing about AJ is that he doesn’t look all that bad. Yes, he might dress like an assistant manager at a Best Buy, but he doesn’t look bad. Even when he wears a pair of ill-advised cargo shorts, his scraggly beard and his schoolboy-realness attire still manage to work for him. He looks like he could be an artist living in Brooklyn, or a normcore Instagram model or something. I am, actually, really into everything he has going on. It’s so wrong that it’s right.
Then we see AJ’s house and it is a baller loft with a TV built into the mirror in the bathroom so that you can catch up on episodes of Black Mirror while you take a dump. (Well, I guess that depends on how long your dumps take.) Yes, even the apartment is clutch, but, oh girl, is it messy. His bedroom is such a gross hoarder den that he has to sleep in a bed in the living room that is partitioned off by see-through garage doors. Now, this is objectively a stupid way to live, but it’s still kind of cute. There are a lot worse ways he could have treated his space. And he has a swing! No one with a swing in his living room could be that bad.
Worse than his hair, clothes, food, or apartment is the fact that AJ still isn’t totally out to his family or at work and that has to change. I firmly believe that the only thing required of gay people is to come out. You don’t have to hang with gays, give money to the HRC, or even vote Democrat as long as you live your life openly. Not only is the closet bad for the gay community at large, but the longer one stays in it, the crazier he or she gets. I mean, just look at Marlon Brando!
AJ is really concerned with coming out and talks to each of the Fab Five about their experiences, and it’s all very sweet. Karamo describes why it’s even harder to be gay in the black community. Antoni talks about how he wasn’t comfortable being flaming and dialed it back so that he lives more authentically. Bobby also says something, but at this point I’m just ignoring her and pretending like she’s a shadow on my TV screen made by the drapes.
AJ’s biggest problem seems to be that he doesn’t want people to think that he’s too gay, which I don’t really think is an issue. Yes, he is putting on some butch drag, but it seems so effortless that I don’t think people will accuse him of putting on macho airs. It was also strange to hear him say that he doesn’t want to show off his nice body because he thinks that is something only gay dudes do. Excuse me? Has he ever seen a straight dude with his shirt off at Barry’s Bootcamp? Also, if he’s working hard to get those pecs, abs, and guns but isn’t willing to show them off, then what the hell is the point? So he can have something nice to look at in the mirror? Okay, maybe that is the point. Still, Mary, show them off.
That is exactly what happens when Tan finally dresses him in some clothes that fit. We see all the bulges in the right places and he clearly is a lot more fit than you would guess from those boxy work clothes. But truthfully, Tan doesn’t put AJ in anything that much different. The polos have a bit more color and the jeans are a bit more fitted, and those small changes are enough to make a world of difference.
Jonathan doesn’t do that much to his hair and beard, either. He gives him a close crop on top from a local barber and shaves off most of his beard, leaving just a shadow. So far, this is the only time that AJ actually looks worse post-makeover. That beard gave him a little bit of an edge and made him look unruly in a good way. I hope that he grows it back. (Sorry, Jonathan, you’re still my favorite.)
Next, Antoni shows AJ how to make arepas because he grew up making Tex-Mex food with his stepmother. I want Antoni to show me all of his pictures from when he was wearing Speedos in Mykonos, but I really wish he would stop helping these guys make food for people when they have company. They should be focused on entertaining, not food prep.
As usual, Karamo’s excursion is the worst part. This time, he takes AJ on a ropes course like he’s on some sort of corporate retreat or a scared-straight program at a suburban middle school. Karamo wants to show him how to make a leap of faith and relate that to coming out or something. It is dumb. I hate the whole thing. But why is it still making me cry?
The second-best part of the episode is when Tan finally brings AJ out to show off some new looks, and the first is just jeans and a harness with no shirt. Just like Jonathan, I momentarily lost the ability to make words. I just stared at this absolutely perfect form before me and dreamt of our future together that includes three beautiful foster children and Antoni as our manny who sometimes shares our bed. Even Antoni was hot and bothered too, having to get up and get a drink. Yes, honey. We are all very thirsty.
Though I loved seeing a partially naked AJ, the best scene of the whole episode is when he comes out to his stepmother by reading a letter he wrote to his late father. There are three things that always make me bawl: movies where the underdogs finally win something, the episode of Survivor when the family comes to visit, and people coming out to their family and their family accepting them. We got the final one here. It was like all of the sadness and anxiety that AJ had been holding in for 30 years finally came out in waves of sobbing, and I just could not stop bawling.
Queer Eye will always try to inspire the world by showing how gay people and straight people working together can achieve anything, but when we finally see gay people helping those in their own community, the real power of this show is finally achieved.