Queer Eye’s Fab Five have helped countless people on the show, but it’s clear their impact extends far beyond the small screen.
That’s why the stars of the hit Netflix reboot — Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness — are being recognized as OUT magazine’s Entertainers of the Year, PEOPLE can exclusively reveal. The Fab Five are featured on one of four covers for the publication’s annual OUT100 issue celebrating the most influential LGBTQ people of the year.
Berk, the design expert who has openly talked about the struggles he faced growing up as a gay child in a religious community on the show, told the magazine about how the Fab Five have been able to successfully open people’s minds.
“I received a message from a pastor who told me he’d been preaching against homosexuality his entire life and changed his ways after watching our show,” Berk, 37, told the magazine. “He said he will never preach that way again.”
Berk has previously given credit to the original show — which first aired in 2003 and starred Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez — for making a change in his life, and now he’s sharing how great it is that they get to continue that legacy for others.
“I love that we’re able to take such a groundbreaking show from a pivotal time in my development and still make it work today,” Berk said. Added grooming expert Van Ness, 31: “The original show was a trailblazer.”
France, the show’s resident fashion expert who was born in England to Pakistani parents, said he often gets messages from people in the Middle East saying “that they’re hopeful after seeing themselves represented on TV.”
“That really gets me every time,” France, 35, said.
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The show’s food and wine expert, Porowski, said he’s gotten similar messages that have hit close to home as a Polish-Canadian.
“A boy in Poland messaged me about the current political climate and his fear of walking the streets safely,” Porowski, 34, said. “He said it meant the world to see me march in Montréal Pride this past summer. He said I gave him hope. I never thought I could have that effect on someone.”
Brown, who is the show’s culture expert, celebrated the diversity of the people selected for lifestyle makeovers on the show.
“It’s important to us that the heroes we work with reflect the diversity of voices and viewpoints that make this country what it is,” Brown, 38, said. “I’m looking forward to more people seeing themselves in the faces of our season 3 heroes.”
OUT’s executive editor, R. Kurt Osenlund, was in charge of this year’s OUT100 package and says the Fab Five were chosen as cover stars for their tremendous impact and for perfectly representing this year’s theme which celebrates the thriving, young generation of LGBTQ people.
“The most important thing about these men is that, on a fundamental level, they help people and work to make people’s lives better, and when you put that on a streaming service like Netflix that can be seen not just nationally, but globally, it sends a widespread message that LGBTQ people are not burdens, but in fact have the ability and willingness to start conversations, break down barriers and make our culture brighter,” Osenlund tells PEOPLE. The original show did that, too, but in a lot of ways, the current climate is even scarier for marginalized people than it was 15 years ago, and the exposure of these men working with all types of people normalizes LGBTQ experience.”
“They’re also a diverse bunch, reflecting that what’s normal for LGBTQ people should look different in media than it did 15 years ago: Karamo Brown is black, Tan France is of Middle Eastern descent, Jonathan Van Ness plays with gender fluidity in his style of dress, etc,” he continues. “All of this lets people in small-town living rooms and foreign countries know that there is no such thing as a single type of LGBTQ person.”
The Fab Five’s fellow cover stars, as well as the full OUT100 list, will be released on Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET.