The ambitions of the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye far exceed making over schlumpy men. This is a show about bridging the massive, almost apocalyptic rift that seems to exist between communities. The first episode of Queer Eye season 2 drives the show’s mission home — and it’s all thanks to Tammye Hicks, the show’s first-ever woman hero. In addition to rebuilding her church's community center, it's Hicks' dream to make her church an accepting, welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people, like her own son Myles.
Last Friday, we spoke to Hicks about the episode's enduring impact on herself, her community, and hopefully, Queer Eye viewers.
"I am doing great! I'm in Georgia's humid, hot weather, but everything is great."
Well, at least now you have that great bathtub. Have you gotten to use it?
"Yes, honey. I have a 17-year-old. I use it, and then on alternate nights he’s supposed to use it. I’m constantly trying to keep him out of it. I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying everything. More than that, the community — this is exceptional."
Can you speak to how this experience has changed your community and your own life?
"Can I just start by saying that it’s life-changing? It goes a long way into spreading the message of unconditional love and changing people’s hearts. The community definitely changed. The whole experience opened a lot of people’s eyes to what unconditional love truly looks like. Sometimes, what happens in life — I’ll get back to this season in a second — sometimes there are two polar extremes. There’s love and there’s hate. If you’re building love, you’re tearing down hate. If you’re building hate, you’re tearing down love. The whole experience opened people’s eyes to see that some of the things you’ve been doing that you thought were in the name of love — maybe you need to examine. Perhaps it was building up hate. I think that’s the biggest thing right there.
"Then, the Fab Five — I love them. I call them ‘my boys.’ There are seasons of life, and this is the spring. Some people plant, some people water, and God gets to increase. I feel like the Fab Five definitely showed up in springtime, and they made things bloom."
You went on a journey to accept your son's sexuality. Did filming an episode of Queer Eye prompt people in your community to go on a similar journey?
"Yes. I was sharing with the guys how God had already started me on the journey. I grew up in the church. I left it for a while, and then I reaffirmed my faith back in 2001. I was a single parent at the time because my husband and I had split. I was raising my three children in a small community. My son, when he came out as gay, I was like, 'Oh my gosh? What is this?' It led me on a journey of self discovery. I believe that if you lack wisdom you can ask him, and he’ll give you anything. In that whole journey of him coming out, God allowed me to introspect. It became not about my son, but what about me? I say I have the same love God has, so what is it about me that I cannot love my son unconditionally? That right there in itself started the whole journey.
"I went to my son and called a meeting at the table. I told my son, God gave me that revelation: If you have the same love I have, you should love your son like I love him. I sat down and apologized to [Myles]. He said you have nothing to apologize for, and I said yes I do. The same Bible I’ve been spitting at you teaches me that if I have wronged someone, to ask for forgiveness. Then, there comes the Fab Five. It was all divine intervention."
What was your favorite part of that week?
"There were so many. One was when Bobby and myself sat down, our conversation. It was a moment of healing. The guys asked me what I wanted out of this whole week. I said I want growth. I want growth for everyone involved. That was the very first day. That right there, I feel like was a pivotal moment in his growth and mine as well. Also, when my son told me that he was going to homecoming. That had been a prayer of mine. At that time he had felt kind of isolated. He didn’t go to church anymore because he felt people were judging him. That moment allowed me to see that my son had grown into himself, and he felt comfortable."
Are there any funny moments that stand out particularly?
"Jonathan was the little class clown. There were so many funny moments with him. They were like my children. At one point, Jonathan hurt his toe. He went, 'Oh my Jesus!' Everybody just fell out laughing right there. It was just really heartfelt. There were a lot of emotional moments and there were comic reliefs part there, too. Let’s lighten the mood."
Are you still in touch with the Fab 5?
"Yes, I am. As a matter of fact, Bobby at least every other week. Sending word through them to the guys. They all send messages and call me Mama Tammye. Just love. I’m feeling such love."
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