Stan’s ‘It’s A Sin’ Is A Joyous Yet Heartbreaking Story About The AIDS Epidemic

As young baby queers, we live with a great privilege. Yes, it is still hard to be anything but straight and cis in our heteronormative capitalist society, but it needs to be said that our quality of life is vastly better than our queer forebears. Especially—as a new limited series on Stan, It’s A Sin, looks to show—better than those that lived through the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. 

While we now have antiretroviral regimens medication which dramatically slows down the disease’s infection and alternate prevention drugs like PreP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), things weren’t as manageable if you were gay and tested positive back in the day. When HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) was first reported, it was labeled a “Gay-Only Disease.” Much like the early cases of COVID-19, few understood how it was spread or its symptoms. Conspiracy theories about its origins were rampant—some say it was made in a lab but there were other more grotesque and homophobic theories that simply aren’t worth repeating.

In the U.S., gay men and trans sex workers in San Francisco were dying by the thousands. People lost friends, partners, and their chosen family, all while their government refused to offer relief until it affected people beyond the gay male community, and as healthcare workers literally denied helping those infected because of their sexual preference and gender identity. 

Meanwhile, as the epidemic started to spread in the States, queer nightlife continued to thrive in the United Kingdom. Gay men continued to casually sleep around without protection, ignorant to the epidemic that would give way to a new era of discrimination. Think: invasive questions about whether you identify as gay or ever slept with a man when applying for a mortgage, hospital rooms of infected patients being locked up and approached by nurses in hazmat suits, skyrocketing cases of queer homelessness, and “boys going home for good.”All of this and more looks to be explored in Stan’s It’s A Sin, an exciting new British limited series about a group of queer housemates in London living through this epidemic.

Directed by Russell T. Davies of Doctor Who and Queer As Folk fame, based on the trailer, the show looks to be at times harrowing, uplifting, joyous and deeply heartbreaking, but all essential viewing for queer people—and with an amazing, gorgeous cast of queer cuties. Below, find all the deets on the cast of Stan’s It’s A Sin, including Years & Years singer Olly Alexander.

Everything You Need To Know About The Cast Of Stan’s ‘It’s A Sin’

Olly Alexander

In Stan’s new limited series, Olly Alexander plays Ritchie, an in-the-closet aspiring actor and regular around the gay scene. But, outside of the show, Alexander is best known for being the singer of British synth meets electro pop band, Years & Years. And, over on his Instagram, he’s a total Look Queen.

Lydia West

In It’s A Sin, Lydia West plays Ritchie’s best friend and housemate, Jill. You can also find her in Years and Years, another limited British series by Russell T. Davies, albeit with a confusingly similar name to Olly Alexander’s band. 

Omari Douglas

In It’s A Sin, Omari Douglas plays Roscoe, the London-born 17-year-old party boy of the group. The new British series marks his TV debut role.

Over on his Instagram, Douglas likes to share pics from behind the scenes of his acting endeavours, including sneak peaks at It’s A Sin and time spent vibing with his cast mates, Callum Scott Howells and West.

He’s also incredibly funny.

Callum Scott Howells

In It’s A Sin, Callum Scott Howells plays Colin, the shy and adorkable member of the household who moves to London from Wales to study as an apprentice at a tailoring business. 

Over on his Instagram, Howells is a classic boy next door and, imo, 2021’s answer to Paul Mescal. I’m talking, cute pics of him with his adorable cockapoo pup, Dewi.

No word on who he’s dating, or if he is, but we can safely say, this 21-year-old cutie is living his Hot Girl Summer fantasy.

Also, while we’re on topic, clock this adorable flirty interaction between Howells and Alexander in the comments. 

Nathaniel Curtis

Nathaniel Curtis plays Ash, the final member of the It’s A Sin household who Ritchie crushes on at uni. Over on his Instagram, Curtis continues to remind us one simple fact: he’s built like a Greek God and has the golden heart of a himbo.

Curtis was last seen looking adorable with alleged girlfriend and “teacher in training,” Molly Alicia Crookes. 

It’s A Sin drops on Stan on the 23nd of January. In the meantime, you can catch the rest of Stan’s ~incredible~ range of content here.

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.