Pastoral Care in Unexpected Places: Queer Eye


Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash

Here we go.  Article 1 of Pastoral Care in Unexpected Places.  Queer Eye.  Are you excited?  You should be.  Go ahead.  Get excited!

One of the reasons I wanted to do this is not only to call out and celebrate the moments in which pastoral care is practiced but to also show you that even if you aren’t a pastor, you can be pastoral to those around you.

Let’s review what my current and somewhat clunky definition of pastoral care.

The holistic ministry of someone that meets a person where they are in order to walk with them through life, encouraging and prodding along the way when needed.

Several friends had been raving about it and I eventually started watching it last year.  And I’m so glad I did!  The Fab 5 don’t know it, but they’re pastoral.  Maybe not in the religious sense since most church bodies do not fully welcome LGBTQ+ folk, but they’re still pastoral.

If you’ve never seen the show, the premise is that someone nominates a man (there was only one exception in the two seasons so far) and the Fab 5 (the Queer Eye guys) take a week to transform him in five areas:

  • Antoni Porowski – food and wine expert
  • Tan France – fashion expert
  • Karamo Brown – culture and lifestyle expert
  • Bobby Berk – design expert
  • Jonathan Van Ness – grooming expert

The transformation in each of these areas is always dramatic, often producing tear-filled and/or speechless reactions.  But it’s not just an external transformation that happens.  There is something happens inside a person. A switch is flipped.

Behavioral scientists tell you that your thoughts influence your actions.  When someone is frustrated, scared, angry, or whatever, those emotions influence their thoughts, which control their actions.  In each Queer Eye episode, there is usually something lurking deep within the person that is preventing them from moving forward.  Something holding them back.

Enter the Fab 5.  Enter pastoral care.

Here’s how I think the Fab 5 practice pastoral care.

  1. They accept people where they are.  No one, not a single person, is hopeless.  If you’ve ever been in a situation where you feel like you are too far gone to be helped, you know how powerful it is when someone comes alongside you and gives you a word of hope.  Maybe it takes several encounters with these words of hope before you start believing them, but eventually a light sparks.  And it’s that light that makes you want to keep going.
  2. They accept people where they are, BUT they love them enough to not let them stay there.  Let’s face it.  We all need a swift kick in the booty sometimes.  Someone to come along and tell us we’ve got things we need to work on.  In fact, there are lots of times that someone on the outside can see things that need work even when we can’t.
  3. Even though they want to push someone to be better, never ever ever do they ask them to be someone they aren’t.  They would never tell me I need to be wearing more dresses.  Because they know that just isn’t who I am.  I’ve decided that they do this because they value people.  They understand that we are all different.  Unique.  There are no cookie cutter approaches in their flavor of pastoral care and I think that’s beautiful.
  4. No matter which episode you watch, you can tell that they’re rooting for the guy they’re helping.  There are hugs, smiles, laughter, cheers, and clapping.  Outside of family and close friends, it is rare to have someone in my life who wants me to succeed as much as the Fab 5 do.  I wish we could all put them in our pockets and carry them around for this kind of encouragement on demand.  The world would be a much better place.
  5. And the last thing I see is going to sound odd.  They are fun and playful.  You might be thinking this is an odd thing to mention when talking about pastoral care.  I think that’s because when we think of pastoral care, we think of hospital visits, funerals, counseling, you know, the serious stuff.  Don’t get me wrong.  You have to read the room and know when it’s appropriate to be fun and playful.  But in my experience, pastors don’t generally have a problem with being serious when it’s time to be serious.  But fun and playful?  I think we could all use a little more of that in our lives, actually.

So, what do you think?  Is this pastoral care?  If it is, doesn’t it make sense that we can all provide pastoral care by genuinely caring for people and rooting for them to succeed?

Stay tuned for the next installment of Pastoral Care in Unexpected Places.

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