Glad to be gay, just for a day, but don't tell Dad

Queer as students? The irresistible lure of television draws the boys into startling new territory.
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The Independent Culture
Spring term, week 8 at the Manchester Student House: ROBBIE

studying

Economics

IAN

studying

Geography

RACHAEL

studying

Art History

LEONA

was studying

Maths

DANI

studying

Biology

DAVID

studying

Management

ALISTAIR

studying

Management

TASH

studying

Management

ROSIE

studying

French

ROBBIE, ALISTAIR and David are enjoying a bit of TV stardom. Four months ago they were singled out by a Channel Four film crew and were asked to be extras in Queer As Folk, the new drama about gay life in Manchester.

Last week they watched the programme, including sex scenes which left little to the imagination. "It was very explicit," says Dave, rather sheepishly. "I was a bit shocked when I saw it. I thought there would be a few kissing scenes but it was nothing like that. I'm also a bit concerned about my dad. I know he watched it and he hasn't phoned me since. I told everyone we were in it. Still, it was good money. We were paid pounds 150 for two nights of walking up and down the street. The only hitch was that they tried to make Robbie wear this very tight top and he refused, so we wore our own clothes."

Robbie avoided any family embarrassment. "I meant to ask them to tape it for me, but I forgot to tell them and I don't think I'm going to now. I think they might be a bit shocked. It's good that the programme is dealing with the gay lifestyle, but it's trying to make it a bit too shocking. There were gay sex scenes throughout it and I thought, oh my gosh, that was a bit unnecessary.

"But I'm glad I did it, really," he adds. "My friends have been quite cool about it. They think it's really funny, and I think they're quite impressed. They've asked me if I would have done it if I'd known how explicit it was going to be, and I said yes - you might never get the chance to do it again."

Meanwhile, after months of conflict with the landlord (she said work needed doing, he said it didn't), Rachael moved out of the house last week with Dani. Their arguments with the house's owner culminated in visits from an environmental health officer and the removal of their kitchen.

Now the landlord has boarded up the top-floor flat where the two girls lived and doesn't plan to rent it out again. "But he's agreed to keep the rent the same for us," says Ian with a shrug. Rachael and Dani never really took to the dynamics of a shared house, and have moved into a comfortable two-bedroom flat in a smarter part of town. When they had a kitchen, they spent most of their time on the top floor away from the communal student squalor. And when they didn't, they spent most of their time away from the house.

The other girls in the house, Leona, Tasha and Rosie, are going to miss them. "It's been war lately," says Rosie. "That kitchen has been a mess since before Christmas, and it was the boys who made all the mess, but they've been trying to get us to do it."

"The boys' bathroom downstairs is disgustingly dirty," says Leona. "There are slugs in there." The girls are planning on visiting Rachael and Dani frequently - at least for a decent wash. But the boys may be looking for new housemates before long.

"We want to get out of this dirty, run-down house whenever we can."

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