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Benjamin Bruckner is one of the main characters on the American cable show Queer as Folk, on Showtime.
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 He is a gay studies professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of the non-fiction book RU12 and the unpublished novel Gentlemen in Paris.
The two begin to date, but Michael decides to stop after finding out that Ben is HIV positive. 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. Debbie also initially disapproves of the relationship because of Ben's HIV status. However, when Ben 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.
In the third season, 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. 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 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. 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 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. 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. Hunter reunites with Ben and Michael after the bombing and the couple legally adopts him in the series finale.
Throughout the series, Ben is characterized as a compassionate person 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.
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.