The boys are growing into men on Showtime's "Queer as Folk.''
That's the word from co-star Robert Gant about the premium cable channel's highest-rated series, returning for a fourth season tonight at 10.
"It's exciting where the show has traveled to and the extent to which it has found its legs,'' Gant said in a recent telephone interview. "It's really come of age. You'll see right from the beginning how they've grown up a lot. It mirrors very well the process so many of us gay boys go through to become men.''
Gant urges viewers - straight and gay - who were turned off by the show's frank depictions of promiscuity and drug use, especially in "Queer's'' first season, to give the show another look.
This season, Gant says his character, Ben, an HIV-positive college professor, and his partner, Michael (Hal Sparks), will seek custody of an HIV-positive teenager who has been living on the streets and hustling for money. The couple face their toughest challenge when Michael's career suddenly takes off, leaving Ben feeling insecure about his place in the relationship.
As for his own life, Gant is one of the few openly gay actors working and has no regrets about coming out last year. "I feel a sense of freedom that I did not have before, and that makes sense. When one stops putting energy into a (lie), you have energy for everything else. I was putting a lot of energy into hiding.''
The work offers have not dried up since he came out, he said. He is considering a movie and stage projects during his hiatus. "There seems to be greater interest in me as an actor, and that's very interesting,'' he said. "The great fear that every gay actor has is that the work will stop.''