"When I'm with him I feel like a better person." - Michael
Comic book store owner Michael Novotny and college professor Ben Bruckner are from the TV series Queer As Folk. They met in the second season of the show when Ben came to Michael's store for research he was doing for his class. The two had an instant attraction to one another and we got to follow their relationship from that first meeting through their wedding and beyond. With Ben, Michael found a person who loved him back because of, and not in spite of, who he was and how passionately he cared about the things he was interested in. After his failed relationship with David, it was wonderful to see Ben in his life since he was someone who could fully support Michael's hobbies, goals, and friends. Ben integrated so well into Michael's life and inner circle, and he not only made Michael happy, but he also helped him become a stronger and more confident person. I loved the scene when Michael was upset about the death of his favorite comic book character and Ben not only acknowledged, but also validated his feelings. And through his relationship with Michael, Ben was able to finally be with someone who was able to accept everything about him, who wouldn't let his HIV status get in the way of a possibility of a future together.
I first fell in love with this show and this couple when I saw the scene of Michael singing "Ben" in the club to try and convince Ben he was serious about pursuing a relationship with him. What I really enjoyed about these characters was how realistic and human they were, and how although they didn't always make the wisest decisions, they always tried to work through their issues as best they could. Michael had to deal with the reality of Ben's illness and stand by him, even when his always supportive mother failed to accept his relationship. He also had to come to terms with the fact that Ben was not perfect and could sometimes allow his usually calm and collected exterior to crumble. From time to time, Ben struggled with feeling completely alone with his HIV status and did not always cope in the most healthy manner, until Michael took extreme measures to get him to understand that they were on the same side. However, despite any and all problems they had, they did manage to work through everything together and it only made their relationship stronger. In fact, they were one of the very few couples on the show that never once cheated on each other and they almost always presented a very healthy and functional relationship to the audience.
One of Ben and Michael's biggest challenges was when they asked Hunter to move in with them, and it was compelling to watch them struggle to adjust to being foster parents to the troubled teenager. Their scenes could be very heartwarming at times, as Ben and Michael quickly came to love Hunter as their son and fought to keep their new family together. It wasn't always easy with against everything they came up against, whether it was Hunter's own HIV diagnosis, his abusive birth mother and past, or his unhappiness at school and his place in the world. One scene I really loved was Ben and Michael's impromptu wedding in Canada while on the charity bike ride - it was such a special moment for them where they were surrounded by the love of their closest family and friends. And after Michael's near death experience reminded everyone of the fragility of life, the end of the series left me with such hope for Ben and Michael's future happiness, both together and with their son.
Michael: "Well, I told you. I know what I want and I'll do anything to get it."
Ben: "You mean me?"
Michael: "Yeah, I mean you." [they kiss]
Debbie: "You know how I feel about him, I've made it perfectly clear. And yet you didn't even bother to tell me you were bringing him."
Michael: "I don't need your permission."
Debbie: "This is still my house. And in my house you still say ‘Mother May I'."
Michael: "I love him, Ma. That's the reality. And you're just gonna have to live with it."
Ben: "What she was asking, you have a right to know. I am in good shape now, but I can't promise that I'll always be."
Michael: "But there is no always, there's only now. That's all we have. Isn't that what you're always telling me?"
Ben: "That's what I'm always telling you."
Michael: "So, then, I don't care what anyone else says or feels. I just care how I feel."
Michael: "Look, I know you don't like to dwell on the past... you know, it's over, it's gone, let it go. But sometimes it won't let you go. Like with Brian."
Ben: "What about him?"
Michael: "Well I wasn't completely honest when I said it didn't matter to me that you had had sex with him. And it does matter."
Ben: "And why is that?"
Michael: "Because... Because I've always had certain... feelings for him."
Ben: "What kind of feelings?"
Michael: "Different kinds. Friendship feelings. Love feelings."
Ben: "Sexual feelings?"
Michael: "Not that anything ever happened or ever will. But when I found out that you and he... I just couldn't stop thinking..."
Ben: "...that I knew him in a way you don't."
Michael: "And he knows you in a way that I do."
Ben: "Thank you for telling me."
Michael: "I had to, I love you."
Ben: "And it's okay that you love him."
Michael: "It is?"
Ben: "Michael, we've known each other for how long, a few months? You had a life before I came along, and so did I. Including people we've loved that we're still in love with. It doesn't mean we can't love each other."
Michael: "I want you to know I'm not going to come here without you."
Ben: "I appreciate the self sacrifice."
Michael: "I'll be sitting at home, knitting, waiting for your return."
Ben: "I don't want you not to have fun."
Michael: "Don't worry, I intend to have plenty of fun. Although, phone sex to Tibet will be expensive."
Ben: "I'm afraid there won't be much of that, Michael."
Michael: "Cause you have to be celibate."
Ben: "Cause I'm not going."
Michael: "But it's all you've thought about, it's all you've talked about."
Ben: "And you were willing to let me go."
Michael: "You said it was what you needed."
Ben: "I already have what I need. And I don't have to go to Tibet to find it." [they kiss]
Ben: "Can you believe we're really married?"
Michael: "Are we? Really?"
Ben: "Of course we are."
Michael: "Well we don't live in Canada, we live here. So... is it... still real?"
Ben: "Let me ask you a question. Even if it was real for just a day, was it worth it?"
Michael: "So worth it."
Ben: "It won't be long before it happens here. It's all beginning. And we're part of it."