Benjamin Bruckner is one of the main characters in the second, third, fourth, and fifth seasons of the Showtime drama series Queer as Folk. He is Michael's husband, the adoptive father of Hunter Novotny-Bruckner and step-father of JR Novotny-Marcus.
Ben became a main character during season two, when he is the first customer in Michael Novotny's comic book store. He is a gay studies professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of the non-fiction book RU12 and the unpublished novel Gentlemen in Paris. In season 2 episode 9 he tells Uncle Vic that he grew up on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and that he had supportive parents similar to Debbie. % years before he met Michael he was in a committed relationship with Paul, whom he contracted HIV from.
Ben is a very good looking, handsome man in his mid-thirties, He stands over six feet tall and is quite muscular. Ben has short, light brown hair and blue eyes. He is clean cut and usually is dressed in button down shirts and pants. Ben is very studious and uses reading glasses regularly at home, however, he is athletic and plays sports as well and will dress appropriately for those sports.
Throughout the series, Ben is characterized as a compassionate, but masculine man who seldom becomes outwardly angry, upset, or emotional. He adheres to the Buddhist ideals and advocates for "living in the now". In adjusting to his HIV status, Ben does his best to take care of himself physically and to maintain a peaceful and serene perspective in facing life's challenges, which earns him the nickname "Zen Ben" from Brian.
However, as perfect contented as Ben seems and generally is with his quiet confidence, he is still an alpha male type. His anger management slips from time to time especially when it concerns his family, Michael and Hunter. He has raged over Michael when he was hurt in the bombing, and deeply depressed when Hunter left home. When stressed out and upset, he will smoke and sulk with watery eyes.
He has all traits of a typical straight man, and he doesn't have any typical gestures of gay men. The only way to know if he was gay is if he told you, or he is directly intimate with his partner, whom is Michael, in public.
Throughout the Series
After a natural rapport with Ben in the store, and finding out he is a instructor of gay studies, he invites Michael to speak in front of his class about comics as he has seen that he has passion and knowledge about them. At first, Michael is apprehensive and skips, but is convinced by Ben. Michael ultimately goes before the class and lets his words about comics flow even letting his personal interest come out about superheroes in tights bringing a smile to Ben's face and knowing more of Michael's true quirky nature. Ben show him his book and autographs it to him and Michael thanks him. Seeing Ben's ardent look in his eyes as he gives him the book, Michael is clear that he has a preference for him and decided to thank him more with a kiss.
They began to date and find great companionship in each other, however, He struggles to come to terms with Ben's HIV. However, he has honest affections for Ben as he can't forget him. After several failed attempts at dating other men, Michael realizes he is in love with Ben, and that he will have to accept his HIV status. Michael fights for Ben. Michael tenaciously wins him over, by playing basketball with him terribly in order to bribe him to go out with him which works. While out, Michael even confronts the friends of his circle over Ben and everyone stands silent. Before ben decides to leave, Michael bravely serenades to him in an improvised karaoke song proclaiming his affections for him which leaves Ben blushing and feeling his affections.
After finding out Ben was HIV positive, she forbid Michael to see him when he brought him for dinner. Michael states, "This is the reality. You're just going to have to learn to deal with it." Debbie started asking Ben personal questions concerning his HIV status which upset and angered Michael. Debbie reverses the statement on Michael said earlier saying, "This is the reality. You're just going to have to learn to deal with it." Despite her saying this, he continues to see Ben.
Justin finds out that Brian has been with Ben before sexually; shocking the gang. At first, Michael says it doesn't bother him, but overtime, the curiosity of their encounters outweighs him and he becomes very insecure due to feeling inadequate in comparison to Brian. Ben find out from Ted and Emmett that Michael harbors emotional feelings for Brian, but has never been intimate with him and it affects him in a few different ways. In this episode, Michael resolves his insecurities about Brian and is able to move on and love Ben while having an unconditional love for Brian.
Michael goes to talk to his mother whom is working the diner. Debbie defensively says that she has a right to date whoever she wants. Michael agrees, but also refers to Ben and tells her that he has that right as well. Despite this, Debbie is cordial towards Ben, but not friendly. After initially declining she appears at their place for Ben's birthday just to see him in a rare outburst due to his health. At first, very upset at this until he collapses in class and is hospitalized due to complications from his HIV medication, Debbie sees how devoted Michael is to Ben and realizes that Michael's happiness is more important than her worries. She shows up at the hospital for Ben and the two finally begin to bond as she fed him soup at his bedside bringing a smile to Michael's face.
In the third season, Ben moves in, and Brian comes over looking saddened. Ben suggests going out with him to cheer him up. Brian oversteps and attempts to hang out with Michael every night which almost leads Ben to move out.
Michael tells the news from Lindsay and Melanie about them wanting him to father their next child. Ben is excited for him, but is also saddened on the inside due to the fact he wanted to be a father, but his HIV status prevents him from becoming one.
Ben learns that the man who gave him HIV has died which greatly upsets him and drives him to begin using steroids and exercise obsessively. Ben's increasingly erratic behavior begins taking a toll on his relationship with Michael, especially when their is talk of children. In a desperate attempt to get through to Ben, Michael threatens to infect himself with Ben's used needle in order to get him to stop taking steroids.
Ben's rage continues and they argue. Ben pushes him away and is upset about his ex partner's passing. Michael confronts him coming home, and has a needle in his hand pushing the idea that Ben needs someone "more like him" and pretends to proceed injecting himself with a used needle. When Ben tells him to stop, Michael shouts "You stop! Stop hurting yourself and us!"
Ben and Michael later begin providing shelter to a teenage prostitute, Hunter Montgomery, after encountering him soliciting outside their apartment. Ben feels a special bond with the troubled youth, especially after learning Hunter is HIV positive as well. Michael is initially less patient with Hunter's presence in their home, but the couple grow to accept Hunter as a member of the family.
When hunter enrolled in school, his unfit mother locates him and stops by their residence when he isn't around. Hunter reacts badly when told that his mother has visited Ben and Michael. When asked for the reason for his reaction, he accuses his mother of having forced him to commit acts of prostitution from an early age. She becomes irate with Michael and Ben when they refuse to give Hunter's location. She gets the police involved and Michael makes a decision to flee with Hunter. They hire Melanie as their lawyer and they have the hearing. She does win custody initially, but the judge hears her callous and homophobic remarks regarding Hunter's HIV status "You dirty little faggot ... Are you trying to give it to me?", and awards custody to Ben and Michael.
Ben and Michael become Hunter's legal guardians by the beginning of the fourth season after winning custody from his abusive mother.
When Michael and Justin get a deal for a movie adaptation of their comic book, Ben becomes extremely envious, mainly because his own book, Gentlemen in Paris, can't get published. Ben even has a debate with Brett Keller at Babylon due to his anguish of the rejection of his book.
Ben begins secretly meeting with Anthony, a former student who flirtatiously offers praise for his work. However, Ben is horrified when Anthony reveals that Ben's novel inspired him to intentionally infect himself with HIV. Ben write a short story of the ordeal. Michael praises his story and to two embrace while slow dancing to a CD Hunter bought them at the Mall.
Later, Ben and Michael travel to Toronto, Canada for the start of the Liberty Ride. On the bus ride up to Canada Ben asks Michael to be his husband. The two get married in Canada, but they experience trouble in returning to the United States as their marriage will not be recognized once they return.
In the fifth season, Ben and Michael move into a house on a traditional street, to which Brian accuses them of being 'conformist homosexuals'. This does not matter to the couple who are proud of their new home and two children. However, this does not last long as after Hunter's HIV status is revealed at school and his ex-girlfriend starts dating someone new, he decides to leave home. Ben takes Hunter's departure particularly hard and becomes extremely distraught and angry with both Michael and himself, until they receive an e-mail from Hunter a few weeks later. Ben later tirelessly parades to stop "Proposition 14" which would take away gay civil rights and is present during the bombing of Babylon which severely injures Michael. During the vigil for the Babylon victims, Ben displays uncharacteristic rage when he brutally beats up a counter-protestor who began mocking Michael's near death. When Brian is driving Ben home, Ben encourages Brian to make amends with Michael. When Michael refuses to attend Brian’s wedding, Ben reveals how concerned Brian was in the ER and nearly assaulted a doctor who refused to take his blood due to being gay. Deeply touched by this news and Ben reminding Michael how much and how long Brian has loved him convinces Michael to meet with Brian and their friendship is restored. Hunter reunites with Ben and Michael after the bombing and the couple legally adopts him in the series finale. Ben is seen in the final scene happily watching Michael and Brian dancing together at Babylon.
Despite his academic background and somewhat esoteric philosophies, Ben integrates well with Michael's circle of friends. Ben and Brian are generally cordial to one another, although they occasionally clash over their conflicting values and mutual interest in Michael. It is revealed in Season 2 that Ben and Brian shared a brief prior sexual encounter, which initially disturbs Michael. However, unlike Michael's ex-boyfriend, David Cameron, Ben does not openly resent Michael's and Brian's close and somewhat co-dependent friendship and he calmly acknowledges that when two people enter a relationship, they each bring his own history.
- Main article: Michael and Ben
Their relationship symbolizes and consist of several great things of overcoming prejudices of HIV status, it challenges, embracing general differences and complimenting them, and a deep rooted unconditional love.
He is Michael's first customer of his comic book store. After hearing Michael's passion about comics, Ben invites him to speak at his class. They become romantically involved. After struggling with Ben's HIV status and the peer pressure of his friends and mother (mainly concerning Ben's HIV status) they rekindle their relationship.
Generally, Michael has learned valuable lessons from his prior relationship with David, and more than succeeds his relationship with Ben. Such as being more certain on issues and his opinions, his bravery, becoming domestic partners, and even making an investment on their first house.
During the final seasons, they marry in Canada on the bike marathon, adopt Hunter while they co parent with Melanie and Lindsay as fathers to Jenny Rebecca.
Ben and Melanie get along very well. They are leaders within the center. However, when there is a dispute with Michael concerning JR, he is quick to defend Michael at the risk of their friendship. When everything sooths over, they remain good friends and advocates within the center together to fight for LGBTQ rights.
Hunter become Ben's adoptive son. From the beginning, Ben shown particular paternal interest and compassion towards Hunter. When he found out Hunter was also HIV positive, he felt a stronger connection. While both Michael and Ben come to care greatly for him, Ben cares for him slightly more than Michael due to the fact he is HIV positive like him referring to him saying "he is my blood". He comes to love Hunter as though he were his own son.
Debbie had a hard time coming to terms with Michael dating him and being positive.
At first, she is the very first person to greet him when he walks into Michael's comic shop and makes a joke. Later, when it is revealed that Michael is dating him and he's HIV positive, she becomes distant and blatantly rude towards Ben. After a series of events, Michael tells her that he is in love with him and she will have to accept it. Despite becoming tolerant of this, she still is short and subtly rude towards Ben.
Just when she unexpectedly shows up at Ben's surprise birthday party Michael was hosting, Ben shows a rare rage due to his HIV outbreak, and greatly puts her off. Ben's outbreak continues well after and he ends up in the hospital. When she finally finds out the news, she found out Michael hid it from her feeling she would not understand his concern for Ben. Debbie goes to the hospital concerned for Ben and they come to terms and finally form a bond.
Michael later finds his mother at Ben's bedside having brought him food from the diner bringing a smile to his face.
Ben and Brian are generally cordial to one another, although they occasionally clash over their conflicting values and mutual interest in Michael. It is revealed in Season 2 that Ben and Brian shared a brief prior sexual encounter, which initially disturbs Michael. Brian is responsible for giving the nickname "Zen Ben".
he refers to Ben as the "Hunkyish Professor in Pittsburg". Emmett thinks he is handsome and is allowed to dance with him with Michael's permission as long as he keeps his hands above the waist. Emmett approves of Michael's attraction towards Ben and looks at him as another friend within their group. Emmett gets Ben's back when the mob of homophobes attempt to jump Ben which Emmett delivers a powerful right hook to one of them.
They have brief conversations from time to time. Ted was the first to disapprove of Michael and Ben knowing he wrote his first book due to his HIV status. Ted may have also been slightly jealous due to having prior feelings for Michael as well. In time, Ted became use to the idea and accepted him as a friend within the group.
Her adoptive father. Ben supports Michael in being a candidate for sperm donation for Melanie and Lindsey during the third season, however, he doesn't have as much involvement with Jenny as the other three parents.
They have a conflict of interest and shows as a subtle rivalry, especially because Ben is having trouble publishing his novel. Ben thinks he's phoney and tells them once he purchases their copyright, he can make Rage straight if he wished. They had a heated debate concerning books and writing in Babylon as Ben thinks he should use his success to better represent and give back to the local LGBTQ community.
- He is played by Robert Gant.
- His age is revealed to be 33 years of age at the time Michael and him meet in the second season.
- It is revealed in Season 2 that Ben and Brian shared a brief prior sexual encounter, which initially disturbs Michael.
- Unlike Michael's ex-boyfriend, David Cameron, Ben does not openly resent Michael's and Brian's close and somewhat co-dependent friendship and he calmly acknowledges that when two people enter a relationship, they each bring his own history.
- Commonly referred to as the "Hunkyish Professor in Pittsburg" by Emmett Honeycutt and various others.
- He shares the same birthday with Justin Taylor in the series making him the zodiac sign of Pisces.
- He enjoys hobbies of basketball and bowling.
- He loves to read and write stories.