Spoilers ahead for Queer Eye Season 2, Episode 8. Although the first season of the rebooted Queer Eye premiered only a few months ago, the show has already returned with eight new episodes. The finale of Queer Eye Season 2 features the life makeover of Ted Terry of Clarkston, Georgia, who needs some help presenting his best self — he's a political leader after all.
Ted is still mayor of Clarkston, a town that has received more than 40,000 refugees since 1992 according to The Guardian. He maybe doesn't fit your idea of what the mayor of a small Georgia town looks like, which is partly to do with his age. But after some guidance from the Fab Five he's arguably the most well-groomed mayor in all of Georgia and continues to serve constituents today.
The Clarkston, GA government page makes mention of a lot of impressive superlatives regarding Ted's leadership of Clarkston. Not only is Clarkston "the most ethnically diverse square mile in America," but Ted is the youngest person to ever serve as Clarkston's mayor in the town's 135-year history — he was elected in 2013 at the age of 30. Clarkston appears to be a home where progressive ideals prosper, being the first Georgia city to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Election Day is a a city holiday. While Georgia is part of the American South, a section of America often associated with conservative values, cities don't get much more progressive that Clarkston – and some of that has to do with Ted Terry's leadership.
Ted looks more like an artsy millennial than a buttoned-up mayor, seen in Queer Eye sporting flannel outfits and facial hair. However, his youth and unique appearance are second to his compassionate approach to leadership. The Guardian reported that as he was introducing a Middle East delegation to Clarkson, he announced his personal mission. "My goal with Clarkston is to showcase it ... I didn’t make this place a compassionate community — yes, we enshrined it in an official way, but it was a compassionate and welcoming community long before I got here," he said. It's almost as if an entire town had the same welcoming values as the Fab Five, who over the first and second seasons of Queer Eye show that being compassionate and open is just as important to being a put-together person as appropriately fitted clothing and green stick.
Ted's mayoral makeover hasn't made any high-profile public appearances yet, but he has been continuing to speak out on behalf of the town he leads. He recently spoke to Fox 5 Atlanta about a controversial campaign stunt known as the "Deportation Bus."Gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams showcased his stance on immigration with a bus meant for "illegals" emblazoned with phrases like, "Danger: Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters and other criminals on board."
Ted told Fox 5 that he believes the bus promotes dangerous rhetoric and is "very concerning," and serves as an example of the different political philosophies present in Georgia outside of Clarkston. However, the mayor's willingness to stick up for immigrants and refugees is exactly why he's such a good fit for the mission of Queer Eye, which promotes empathy, understanding, acceptance, and bridging the cultural gaps that divide people.
The Clarkston, GA government website's profile of Ted lists two quotes that seem to be a perfect encapsulation of who he is as mayor. The first is his personal motto, "You can't change the world, if you can't change yourself." The second is, "So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you … will do this … you will change the earth," a quote from William Faulkner.
Ted is interested in change and justice. While enacting larger political change is surely going to be harder than changing his grooming and eating habits, Queer Eye's spotlight on Clarkston's mayor showcases a person who is striving their best to make change, starting with a small, progressive Southern town.