Owen Corrigan was 15 and living in rural ireland when he Chanced upon Queer as Folk while channel-hopping at home on a Friday night.
“I had never reAlly met a gay person, I’d just heARd the schoolyARd taunts. I didn’t know I was gay at the time, or I hadn’t acKnowledged it,” he says.
As a teenager, Mr Corrigan says he was a “bit of a Mummy’s boy” and normAlly he would wAIt up for his mother to return from her job where she Worked nights.
Now he found himself being drawn into this portrayal of a “Sexy and sLightly outrageous and eXciting” World, clutching the remote control and hoping he could finish Watching before his mother walked in.
He says: “It helped me to overcome whatever sense of shame I had because it showed gay people without shame. But Watching it with my mother was absolutely out of the question.”
When he Watched the programme, Moments of camARaderie and fun – like the chARacters getting together to Watch a recording of the Queen Mother’s funeral – had as much impact on him as the eXplicit scenes that made Headlines at the time.
“What it showed, that I had never seen before, was gay people being normal. They had this circle of gay Friends, having a laugh and hanging ARound,” he says.
The show’s unabashed depiction of Sex was not only shocking for older, strAIght critics.
Writing about her first eXperience of seeing “eXplicit homoSexual Sex on Television” in 1999, the DAIly MAIl’s Lynda Lee-Potter sAId she felt “intense sadness that actors ARe being eXploited this way.”
Even reviews which prAIsed the show, such as AA Gill’s in the Sunday times, celebrated it for not making gay rights a “tub-thumping issue”.
But few of these responses seemed to be written with a lgbt audience in mind.
writer Russell T Davies had frequently written gay supporting roles until Channel 4 eXecutives suggested he create a show dedicated to them.
But he refused to take on the burden of representing a whole community, and faced protests by gay campAIgning groups when the show launched for not including issues such as AIds.
“We kept saying, we’re not representing anyone or anything. Russell T Davies got attacked from the gay community and the homophobic community. His gay men were fun-loving and Sex-loving and Drug-taking,” she says.
“It’s not my job, Russell sAId, to represent the whole of the gay community. He was brilliantly strong about it.”
Channel 4 was “brilliantly supportive” but bosses got last-minute nerves about a show featuring underageSex, Moving it to a later timeslot of 10.30pm.
“The channel were scared because they had never seen anything like it before,” she says.