Harrison likes the realness of his New York life in lower Manhattan.
He hates the superficiality of Los Angeles. And he doesn't personally
know anyone in real life who is like his character on Showtime's
hit series Queer as Folk.
"I personally don't know any
gay people like that either. It's a fantasy," he said about
controversy over the show's depiction of gay life. The hit show
has been criticized for the amount of sex and drugs written
into the lives of a group of friends in a mostly fictitious
gay Pittsburgh. "They're hyper-stylized, stock characters
created to make really dramatic story lines that keep people
interested in watching."
Harrison, who graduated from
the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music,
will return to Ohio June 12 as a guest speaker at the Human
Rights Campaign Columbus Dinner Gala. For tickets - even seats
at Harrison's table - visit www.boxofficetickets.com or call
Harrison said the show, like HRC, has elevated
the visibility of the gay community and exposed the injustice
of discrimination that faces gay people.
"I am always
surprised by the amount of teens and straight women who watch
the show, people who aren't actually involved in the gay community,
some who don't even know gay people but are at least moderately
familiar with the issues we face through the show," Harrison
And while critics point to the lack of reality in many
of the characters' lives, Harrison said the show is reaching
the higher standard some viewers have set for it.
say 'The show is a comfort in my life,' or 'I'm isolated and
this is something I can watch with my family,' which surprises
me," Harrison said. "I hear from kids who were suicidal
that they felt comforted by the show. So it does do wonderful
things. I don't know that that's what should be expected from
a TV show, sadly.
"No one ever expected The OC or 90210
to drastically change the community of Beverly Hills."
is pleased that while the characters are dramatized, the show
seriously explores the political climate that faces the gay
community. In addition to the difficulty of coming out and how
that impacts a gay person's family and friends, topics have
involved the candidacy of an anti-gay politician, gay bashing,
drug abuse and AIDS.
"I think it's really great that
the show has gotten us involved in a forum for people to discuss
things," he said. "It has brought things out in the
public eye more."
This season, QAF's fourth, Harrison's
character Justin has turned from taking a stand against discrimination
to a more vigilante approach with a group the show calls the
"That was really hard for me to do,"
Harrison said. "Justin is always such a very rational character,
very empathetic and moral, for the lack of a better word. But
I sort of related to it because I understand where the character
was coming from.
"I've never had that kind of anger.
I've never been bashed. But the writers are mostly older gay
men in their 60s and what they faced is drastically different
than what I have faced personally," he said. 'I think that
kind of anger prevents some gay people from reaching out to
people who could potentially be our supporters. There's a sort
of self-segregation that comes from that kind of anger that
can turn into hating straight people, which is so counter productive.
was so hard to play because it's not at all where I come from.
I've been out of the closet since I was 15. It was not that
much of a big thing to me."