Queer Eye Stars Celebrate Pride by Honoring the People Who Inspired Them to Come Out
On the new season of Queer Eye, the group travels to Philadelphia. In one episode, they help Pastor Noah Hepler, a local minister.
"I've had been playing by old rules and kind of old norms about how I ought to be," Hepler tells PEOPLE. "But the Fab Five and the whole Queer Eye team were able to leverage things that were in my life already there, in ways that I hadn't noticed before. I'm so incredibly thankful for that."
While Hepler was openly gay before filming the episode, he considers the experience a whole other coming out.
"At this point, I'm kind of doing it again, for a third time!" he says, with a laugh. "There's a prayer we do. There's a line in it that says, 'Come home to yourself.'"
Here, the Queer Eye cast pays homage to who inspired them to come out.
Brown, a culture expert, says in the video above, "I started letting people into my life when I was 16. I don't say 'coming out' because that gives the power to the wrong person."
It was an activist from the 1940s who helped Brown on his journey.
"I had seen a documentary on the 1941 March On Washington, and I learned that it had been organized by a gay black man named Bayard Rustin," recalls Brown. "I realized that his part of my identity was important, but only one part."
The resident food expert says two teachers he's had in his life changed his perspective.
"There have been a lot of people who have inspired me," says Porowski. "And they were all teachers. But two in particular, Mr. Garaway and Mr. Alapi, introduced me to literary giants who helped me have confidence."
Jonathan Van Ness
The group's beauty guru is fearless — as is who helped Van Ness come out as gay and then, last year, as non-binary. And comedian Margaret Cho inspired Van Ness long before the two even met.
"Then she helped me realize that what she did for me, I can do for others: Use my life experiences to help people," says Van Ness.
Berk, who is the interior designer of the five, didn't have family support for his coming out.
"Growing up, I was taught gay people were bad or immoral," says Berk. "Elton John showed me you can be out, loud, proud, successful, and gay."
It was actually the fashion expert's first boyfriend who helped him come out.
"I was 18 and my first boyfriend encouraged me to be open and honest with as many people in my life as I could," says France. "And to be as accepting of myself as I could. Having that love, that he accepted me exactly as I am, helped me have other conversations."
The support was crucial, he says.
"Find that one person," France recommends. "It makes it easier to tell others."
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