As Peacock debuts a reimagining of the landmark LGBTQ+ series Queer As Folk, two of its stars, Johnny Sibilly and Devin Way, pay homage to allies in their lives — and those they’ve never met
Sitting down in a Los Angeles studio, two of the stars of the new Queer as Folk are ready to talk about allyship.
Johnny Sibilly, who is also currently appearing in HBO Max’s Hacks, and Devin Way, have each brought along an ally who played a role in their lives.
Sibilly, 34, says his longtime manager, Lisa Filipelli, has long guided him toward his true self, even while finding his footing in Hollywood. This is a place where being yourself and successful can sometimes prove mutually exclusive (particularly for LGBTQ+ performers).
“It is so important for queer people to have the chance to have our stories told,” Sibilly says. “With Lisa in my corner,I don’t have to worry about being anything other than who I am. And even if I don’t book a straight role ever again, I will be happy knowing that I’ve played great queer people.”
Says Filipelli, 36: “Working with LGBTQ+ artists, I have come to understand my own privilege. Knowing that I get access to places that not everybody does, I try and use that for everybody.”
Way, who previously appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and is celebrating his first Pride this year as an out gay man, brought along Shayne Davis. The two met as models in Dallas.
“I was very much in the closet, when we met, religiously so,” Way, 30, remembers, “Shayne gave me permission to be messy, to be all of me. He told me what I needed to hear at that moment: ‘It’s going to be okay.’ Then I realized, ‘I don’t have to be afraid anymore.'”
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Davis, 29, remembers that moment well, too. “We’re both from the backwoods of Texas. Where we’re from, people aren’t the most accepting. Watching him struggle to come out, then seeing him accept himself, watching him be so courageous, it changed me,” Davis says. “He says I allowed him to be himself. He allowed me to change myself. I checked my own toxic masculinity.”
Sibilly says that allyship comes in all forms. “You don’t always even meet your allies,” he says. “Name all the the pop divas — all the Whitneys and Celines. The thing about it is that a lot of people don’t realize how much powerful women play a role in a lot of queer people’s upbringing.”
“Because a lot of times, and I will speak for myself, seeing male reflections on television, I was a little afraid because I knew that’s what I had to live up to,” Sibilly continues. “Whereas when I saw strong, powerful women that were talented, that held space for themselves and even in a world that didn’t hold space for them, I felt a kinship. I felt taken care of. And I know that’s why a lot of us are so devoted.”
He adds: “Britney [Spears]’s my girl. I feel like she would be friends with me. I think she would, because I’m a cool person.”
Sibilly laughs, then turns serious. “It’s one of those things where I would say, ‘Oh, you don’t know what your music did for me.’ It’s true. There is power in allyship, in places where it’s not spelled out.”
Way agrees on Whitney Houston, before getting super old school. “But I think about Judy Garland and I think about The Wizard of Oz. And for me, there’s this moment in the movie where Dorothy lands in Oz and her world goes from black and white to color. And as a kid, I would just replay that moment over and over and over again, thinking about like, ‘There will be a moment in my life where I go from this black and white world and I get to live in color.'”
Sibilly turns to Way. He says, “Right. Friend of Dorothy.”
“What is a friend of Dorothy?” Way asks.
Sibilly explains, “He’s new. This happens all the time. A ‘friend of Dorothy’ is what a lot of gay, queer people used to call themselves back in the [pre-Stonewall Riots] day as to identify with each other.”
“Really?” asks Way.
“Because Dorothy, Over the rainbow, yeah,” Sibilly explains.
“Oh… This is allyship,” says Way.