'Queer Eye' Hosts Discuss Protests and Why "Education and Empathy Are Paramount" Now

The stars of the Netflix reality series also opened up about the diverse group of heroes their show highlights in the new season.

Season five of Netflix's Queer Eye, which sees the Fab Five take on the City of Brotherly Love, aka Philadelphia, debuted on June 5 at the start of Pride Month and amid continued protests across the U.S. against police brutality and systemic racism. The Hollywood Reporter spoke with stars Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Bobby Berk about releasing the 10-episode season during "one of the most important and exciting times" and the diverse group of heroes the series spotlights this season.

"I think Tyreek's episode is so powerful," said France. "Having a young Black man who has been put through the ringer and trying to really build a life for himself is so timely. And Stylish Pooch [owner] Rahanna. She owns a business and we are encouraging people to support Black business owners. There are so many people that we helped this season that it feels so perfectly timed even though it was shot a year ago."

"I mean I've been saying Rahanna because her story is so impactful," said Van Ness. "Really the thing that makes this season so impactful is the diversity in everyone's stories that really shows off the resilience and the spirit of every single person that was in this season." 

Following the reality series' season five debut, many viewers were quick to take to social media and share that watching Queer Eye was bringing them joy during what some have called a "difficult" time. The cast opened up about what that means to them, and how people can reframe their view on this moment in history. 

"It feels really good," said Brown. "We're in a time right now where education and empathy are paramount and people are waking up and realizing that they have to support themselves and support other people, because there's a lot of things that we've all been closed to. And so the fact that people can take a moment to learn from our show, to decompress and recharge so they can go out there and stand up for other people is so special."

"It's coming during a very difficult time and I think all of us are very sensitive to the fact that you know there are much more important things going on." said Porowski. "A friend of mine, she's literally been going to every single protest, every single day in New York. And when she watches one show, which I won't name, or Queer Eye, it's just like a little moment to kind of take a pause before she's reenergized and ready to go again." 

"I notice that all of us when we talk about this moment in history we all say, 'a difficult time,' and actually I think that this is probably one of the most important and exciting times," added Brown. "I think that by changing the way we talk about this moment, and Antoni, I'm doing it myself so I'm not coming for you or anything, I think it shifts for people to understand that this is exciting. In 20 years, we're going to look back on this and say, 'We finally all stood together in solidarity and of something that was important, that changed lives.' And then this is going to bleed into so many other areas. And that's not difficult, that's beautiful and important and exciting. I just want to try to challenge all of us that instead of calling this moment 'difficult' or 'hard' or anything, it's actually an exciting time." 

Brown has garnered praise on social media for the statement tee shirts he wears throughout the new season that feature such powerful phrases as, "Mental Health Matters," "Trans People Belong," "Made By Immigrants" and "Confidence Is a Habit, Not a Trait." The culture expert opened up about what inspired him to create those tees and his plan to sell them for charity.

"A lot of time I have messages that I'm giving in my deep heartfelt conversations," said Brown. "And so I thought, 'How can I tell other messages while giving that message, that would also pertain to the hero?' And so I was just coming up with these tee shirt ideas and having them printed on the spot, so that they could sort of match the hero. I'm really debating now selling the tee shirts and giving 100 percent of the profits to Black Lives Matter, any charities that are supporting the trans movement, but that's kind of my goal now. I didn't think people would resonate with them." 

Meanwhile, fans of the show should be pleased to know that the Fab Five's relationship with each hero doesn't end when the cameras stop rolling. 

"You know I think it's so important for us to continue to be a part of their lives and to support them and love them," said Berk. "And any time I go to any of the cities that we've been to I always make sure I pop in. I don't want our love and support to end that Friday when we leave. I feel like it is our responsibility to continue that for life, honestly."

Watch the video above for more.