‘Queer as Folk’ Is Still Breaking New Ground for Sex Scenes
In the fourth episode of Peacock’s Queer As Folk, titled “F#ck Disabled People,” Noah (Johnny Sibilly) throws a party at his home for queer and trans people with disabilities to explore their sexualities. It’s part of his weekly Ghost Fag series, which he launches as a safe space following a tragic shooting at a queer nightclub that happens in the series premiere.tLike the 1999 UK original and the 2000 American remake, the 2022 iteration of Queer As Folk isn’t coy when it comes to sex scenes. The Showtime iteration was the first program to show two men having sex on American television, going so far as to portray acts like rimming and mutual masturbation. In its newest chapter, even as on-screen sexuality has progressed since the 2000s, the sex scenes are just as significant.
During the fourth episode, titled “F#ck Disabled People,” a bilateral amputee barfly named Marvin (Eric Graise) hires a sex worker named Ali (Sachin Bhatt). We see both of their bodies in all their nude glory in a way television hasn’t shown people with disabilities to date. For Graise, who is a bilateral amputee in real life, it was important to portray people with disabilities as sexual beings, in happy, joyous, and non-traumatic moments.
“Filming that scene had tons of emotions attached to it,” Graise says. “It was scary, exciting, sexy, and thrilling. I like to think of myself as a very confident person. I love showing off my disability. I’ve always been so confident with my body. For a good portion of my life, I’ve always had a disability, so it was strange for me to be a part of this production and to feel so vulnerable, and not sure how I would look [on-screen].”
Graise, who says he felt “giddy” and “unbelievably happy” when he saw the final cut of the scene, has played several characters with disabilities, from veterans on shows like Dynasty and movies like The Tomorrow War to the quick-witted Logan Calloway on Netflix’s Locke & Key. He says showrunners often fail to write characters with disabilities with much nuance, which tends to result in those characters appearing tokenistic.
“It’s important to me that the audience sees a fully fledged-out, rounded character who is complicated, just like the other characters,” Graise says. “Marvin isn’t just some piece of furniture. I think what happens sometimes with characters written with disabilities is that they’re there to be inspirational, and to remind the audience that people with disabilities are sweet and nice. I didn’t want that. if that happens, then cool, but it happens so often.”
For that, credits showrunner Stephen Dunn, as well as Ryan O’Connell, who co-wrote the episode alongside Alyssa Taylor. O’Connell himself is a gay man with cerebral palsy. He created, wrote, and starred in Netflix’s Special, which is loosely based on his book, I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.
“I think that disabled people, especially in queer spaces, are often left off the menu,” O’Connell says. “That’s for a variety of reasons. Number one, spaces are inaccessible. But also, our sexuality is never really considered. I always think that, at birth, I was castrated by society, and I’ve been searching for my dick ever since. It was really an exciting opportunity to write that episode, along with Alyssa and give disabled people the agency, the horniness, the wants, and the desires and have them fulfilled, no fucking questions asked. And I just wanted to show them to be the horny, deviant monsters I know them to be.”