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Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia Reflect on the ‘Incredible’ Impact Their Show Had on Young Fans (Exclusive)

20 years of pride! Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia are gearing up to celebrate two decades of the original Queer Eye series — and they still can’t believe how much the show means to longtime fans.

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When asked about the importance of being big role models within the LGBTQ+ community, Filicia, 53, exclusively joked during a joint interview with Us Weekly, “That’s why I switched to a light beer, so I could be a smaller role model.”

Kressley, 52, also had a lighthearted reply. “You know, we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which is incredible ’cause we’re only 19,” he teased. “But I think, you know, none of us really thought we were gonna be role models. I just wanted to get rid of mullets and pleated khakis, you know? … [But] reality TV — especially places where you’re visible and you’re just being who you are and doing your job and moving through the world the way that you move through the world — can be very impactful.”

Queer Eye's Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia Reflect on Show's Legacy
Thom Filicia and Carson Kressley. Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/Shutterstock

The duo rose to stardom on the Bravo hit, which debuted in 2003. Along with Kressley and Filicia, whose expertise were in fashion and interior design, respectively, the original “Fab Five” included food guru Ted Allen, hair and grooming pro Kyan Douglas and “culture vulture” Jai Rodriguez. The reality show aired for five seasons and inspired a wildly popular Netflix revival, which premiered in 2018.

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Especially during Pride Month, the Celebrity Big Brother alum is aware of just how important representation can be to those at home. “People watched as a family. Young people could have discussions and say, ‘Oh, what is gay?’ [or] ‘Oh, I didn’t know any gay people before I saw them on the show,’ and ‘Of course they should have the same rights as us, of course they should be able to get married or adopt,'” Kressley told Us. “It wound up being way more powerful than we realized, but the power is really just in being yourself and being your authentic person and showing other people out there that it’s OK to be exactly who you are.”

Filicia, for his part, reflected on being out and proud on TV in a much different era than this generation’s “Fab Five,” adding, “We were one part of a bigger wheel [of change] that was happening at that moment. And I think we had a great hand in sort of helping move that forward.”

The American Beauty author continued, “I think what’s really important is also [being] approachable. … It’s just amazing to me the stories that we’ve heard along the way with [how] young people are now … and they tell us about their journey and how important we were to them. … It’s like opening that door and leaving it open for the next person.”

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Next year will officially mark the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Bravo’s Queer Eye — and planning is already underway to celebrate the milestone. “We’ll put it out into the ether and the universe that we would love to do something … and we’ll see what it is,” Kressley teased. “We might just all get together at Shady Pines and push Ted around.”

Along with reminiscing on their past, the Get a Room stars are teaming up with Polywood this summer, showing off the brand’s all-weather outdoor furniture made from ocean-bound and landfill-bound plastic. “This is truly most authentic, sustainable story that I’ve seen of a product,” Filicia raved. “There is this sustainable component, there’s the made in America component. There’s also the American dream of starting this [company] in [a] garage. So there’s so many amazing story lines. … It’s cute and good for the planet.”

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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