Queer Eye, Netflix’s reboot series based on the 2003 show of the same name produced by Bravo in which the ‘Fab Five’, aka five fabulously gay advisors, spend a week applying their respective expertise to help improve someone’s life and self-confidence is a well-known tear-jerker. If you’ve ever seen the show, then you already know just how hard it is to not bawl your eyes out for pretty much every episode of every season.
I’m the first to admit that Queer Eye is my go-to when I need a good cry. Regardless of whether I’m watching it hungover from the comfort of my own bed or treating myself to a quick episode on the tube, there will undoubtedly be some form of weeping. The wholesome, uplifting and sometimes heartbreaking rollercoaster of each individual’s story is simply too much for my little heart to handle.
As expected, the very same thing happened when season seven dropped on the streaming platform on Friday 12 May 2023. But if I had to select one single person’s journey which has truly left a lasting impression on Queer Eye fans, myself included, it would have to be Ray Walker (nicknamed ‘Speedy’), who was featured on episode three of the latest season.
In fact, we found Speedy’s life story and, more precisely, his goal to use his personal hardships to help and motivate others so moving that we simply had to reach out to the TikTok content creator to discuss his experience on the incredibly popular series, how much of an impact it’s had on him, and what he’s been up to since he met our beloved Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Bobby Berk. But before we let you in on our chat, let’s make sure you’re all up-to-date on everything Speedy.
New Orleans native Speedy (whose nickname was given to him by a basketball coach when he was younger) became permanently paralysed from the chest down after getting into a car accident. On 25 April 2020, a Ford F-150 truck crashed into the car he was in, which sent it flying off the road and slammed it into a tree.
After being airlifted to the nearest hospital and hours of intense surgery on his back, Speedy woke up to the devastating news that not only he was paralysed from the waist down, but that both his mum Eunique and aunt Shanique (who were in the car with him during the accident) hadn’t survived.
Because the tragedy happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the young man was even more isolated than anyone would be going through such a life-changing accident. This led Speedy into dark times during which he revealed on Queer Eye that he didn’t feel like he could ask for help from anyone.
Having always dreamed of being a professional basketball player, Speedy spent his life making sure to stay out of trouble both for his career as well as for his mother’s sake. When he saw these two things be taken away from him so unjustly, his attitude towards life took a turn for the worse, leaving him withdrawn and angry.
That’s when the Fab Five stepped in to help him move forward, learn to love himself again and feel worthy of another shot at a happy life in spite of the tragedy he had gone through.
In case you’ve ever wondered how the process to appear on the Netflix hit series works, here’s what Speedy shared with us: “Queer Eye was coming down to New Orleans and they made a [social media] post about nominating people and my teachers from my old high school decided to nominate me. After they nominated me, Queer Eye producers wanted to set up an interview with me. I shared my story with them, the interview went well, they heard my story and were like ‘Man, we want to have you on the show. You have a beautiful story to tell’.”
After having watched Speedy talk about social anxiety in episode three, titled ‘Speedy for Life’, I couldn’t help but ask him if he felt nervous about going on the show. “I was pretty nervous about being on the show yeah, but I already had my TikTok [account], my platform on TikTok was pretty steady in terms of followers. So I was pretty nervous but at the same time I’m a natural on camera,” he told me.
“It changed my life forever. Each and every one of the Fab Five, they shared a very important message with me. And it helped me a lot. I’ve been able to get up and get out more, to love myself more. I don’t have to have everything figured out right now. They told me to live in the moment, and I took that and just ran with it. And I’ve been feeling great ever since,” Speedy explained.
“Once the show dropped, I [realised] that I just don’t care about what anybody’s got to say. The show is out there, my story is out there. I don’t really care what anybody else thinks anymore, so yeah, they helped me a lot.”
“Oh, yeah, me and Wesley are still in touch. I want to go out to Cali and visit him sometime this year if I can. He just gave me pointers on how he went about things, like his own experience on the show, promoting yourself on social media, receiving emails, making a Linktree… He’s helping me out with those kinds of things. Our relationship is gonna continue to grow. And, you know, we’re like brothers now.”
“You could say I have been coaching. On my TikTok, I’m getting a lot of messages from people telling me that I’ve helped and inspired them. I just wanted to use my story to help others. And I feel like I’m doing that.”
Currently boasting over 230,000 followers and 2 million likes on TikTok, it’s clear that Speedy’s message has been inspiring others to see life through a different lens. “To my TikTok followers, I’m showing them my daily life, and people have messaged me saying, ‘I’ve been taking life for granted, the things you just showed me, I’ve been taking them for granted, man. Thank you for showing us this.’ I think I’ve been helping a lot of people. So I feel like I’m accomplishing my goal right now. And I’m also helping myself—getting myself out there.”
“I’m still living in my apartment. I love it there. My neighbour’s great, the area’s great, it’s pretty nice, there’s a pool, everything. And yes, they gave me all those clothes, I’m still wearing all of those beautiful pieces. You know, I wear some of them on my TikToks, you know, wearing my nice shirt and jeans. And I recently just got a haul from home Urban Outfitters that I want to do a lil fashion thing on, too.”
“The Fab Five have helped me gain more confidence. I was on the show and Wesley told me, ‘Just give them some look at.’ Before my injury, I used to be shy and I used to worry about other people’s perspective on me. Now, I’m in tune with myself. I love myself, I love what I’m doing now. I have more confidence than I have ever had before. Being out in social [settings] now I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t care.’ People haven’t gone through what I went through so they can’t put themselves in my shoes. I’m tough, I survived, I’m here. So I look at it like that: what more can other people say about me? I’ve been through the worst already. So you know, nothing can really hurt me much more.”
“I have. I mean, I’m getting better. It didn’t turn out exactly like it did on the show but I’m still working on it, but I did cook it again. Yeah I love Hibachi-style steak and fried rice.”
Speaking about his plans for the future, the TikToker shared that he’d like to focus on further growing his platform, adding, “I want to maybe even push out a little bit of clothing, like my own brand. I’d like to start with shirts, hoodies, and hats. I’m gonna spend a lot of time just thinking about that.” So keep an eye out for some seriously funky clothes from Speedy, because I know I certainly will.
Before we ended our chat, I asked Speedy if there was anything he wanted to share with people reading this interview, or with anyone who’s going through similar dark feelings he had been through himself. His advice? “Trust your own process.”