How ‘Queer As Folk’ Star Johnny Sibilly First Reacted to Show’s Mass Shooting Storyline

“I always forget that your body doesn’t know that you’re acting,” actor tells LAMag

Johnny Sibilly understands the “important responsibility” that comes with performing on a series that addresses gun violence, but he wasn’t always comfortable with the idea in a show that uplifts the LGBTQ+ community. 

“When I first read the first episode and I saw that I was like, ‘No,’ but I also thought to myself, ‘This is truth, and as an artist it is our responsibility to tell the truth,’” Sibilly told Los Angeles. 

“I think it’s important that we talk about the things that we go through as a community and it feels really poignant in this time, specifically with all the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that’s going on, all the gun violence that we still continue to see day in and day out, to honor the truth of the matter, which is that we do experience these things, not only as a community, but as a nation,” he added. 

Peacock’s reimagining of the groundbreaking British series, Queer As Folk, centers its story around a mass shooting that was loosely inspired by the 2016 massacre at Pulse nightclub, which left 50 partygoers dead. 

“I remember being on set with my headphones in and thinking back to the pain of what we went through as a community and knowing I have a privilege to be able to tell some sort of story that mirrors it and to honor all of the victims that not only have died from the gun violence at Pulse, but all of the queer people that have gone through anything,” Sibilly said. 

“We as queer people have a responsibility to be like, ‘I got your back, and we’re gonna tell this in a way that honors you’ and I hope we did that.”

Nonetheless Sibilly admits his body physically reacted to the trauma his character experienced after walking off set for the day.

“I always forget that your body doesn’t know that you’re acting, your body doesn’t know you’re on set so your body’s like, ‘Why am I crying? Why am I hyperventilating? I’m going through a lot right now.’ So it definitely took me to a place where I was like, ‘Okay, I really need to put on some music or have food or go be with friends,” Sibilly said.

Sibilly’s reality mirrored the characters as they spend the rest of the season growing and healing from the trauma they experienced in the nightclub. Steering away from the violence is what series star Devin Way is most excited for fans to experience not only throughout their show, but also Pride month. 

“I think something that’s so exciting about our show is you see the safe space that would have been the club, get kind of taken away, but what happens is the second someone takes something from us, we build something new,” Way said. “I think moving forward what people will see is it’s not about the building, it’s not about the space, it’s about the people who fill it, and as we move into pride, we get to do that with excitement and joy whether we’re on top of floats or in the streets or just sitting in cars, we can fill ourselves with pride.”

“For me, I’m so excited to do that, and I think this show will bring a lot of that spirit into the world,” he added. 

Queer As Folk streams June 9th on Peacock.

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