Andy Herren, who became the first gay Big Brother houseguest to win the series only last month, is himself a huge reality TV watcher. To commemorate National Coming Out Day and television’s most honorable genre, we asked Herren to open up about his favorite gay contestants from reality television. The 26-year-old Aurora, IL native knew exactly who his favorites were, and he wasn’t shy about admitting why. (Turns out he doesn’t need Julie Chen‘s permission to manipulate certain reality stars on his own time.)
1. Ragan Fox, Big Brother 12
“My biggest gay idol is Ragan Fox from Big Brother. I thought he handled himself well. Very articulate, very well-spoken. I loved him while he was on it. His gameplay made him seem a little out of the loop sometimes, which I didn’t love, but I thought he so was so friendly with everyone that he made it far. His best moment on the show was when we chewed Rachel out, which I’m sure you knew I’d say. By the way, so many people tell me, “I wish you had the balls that Ragan had!” Well, number one: Rachel had already been evicted, and she was just back in the house for 24 hours when he chewed her out. If Elissa had been evicted and come back for 24 hours, I would’ve chewed out Elissa but I’d never gotten opportunity. So don’t compare me to that when I didn’t get that opportunity. Obviously I was waiting to scream at somebody while I was in that house!”
2. Todd Herzog, Survivor: China
“He’s another one who I think is super commendable. Todd Herzog was the second openly gay man to win Survivor after Richard Hatch, who is a total piece of sh*t. He played an amazing game. He did whatever he had to do to win, and everyone liked him. I remember I was a closeted gay in high school when he won, and I was just very impressed by him. I thought, “Oh my God. He’s got his sh*t together. He knows what’s up.”
3. Anthony Ryan Auld, Project Runway Season 9, All-Stars 2
He’s absolutely adorable. I want to put him in my pocket, take him out and have sex with him occasionally, then put him back in my pocket. Then maybe pet him a little bit. He got totally robbed on his initial season on his show, but then he won All-Stars when he was back on it. I’m so happy he did, because he was always super nice and talented. All-around, the whole package. That show is typically filled with deplorable gay men who I want to punch in the face. The fact that he could come out of it so unscathed? I liked him a lot. Can we talk about Project Runway: All-Stars? It’s weirdly less grand than Project Runway. It’s worse? Worse host? Worse judges? And I still watch. But I don’t get the downgrading.
4. Joshua McKinley, Project Runway Season 9, All-Stars 2
He is a total c*nt b*tch! He is a total c*nt b*tch, but he owns it. If you can be one and I still really like you, you’re doing something right. There are so many people on that show where I’m just like, “Oh, go f*ck yourself. I do not want to watch you at all!” He was often disgusting and deplorable, but I so liked him. I would for sure get a beer with him. I would listen to him be a c*nt. The definition of that word, but somehow weirdly likable.
5. Mike Manning, The Real World; Washington D.C.
“The gay guys on The Real World kind of run together for me, but I had an actual run-in with Mike from The Real World: D.C. The only reason I’m talking about him is because I was able to manipulate him. He visited the University of Illinois while I was a student there, and he was at this notoriously gay bar on a notoriously gay night. He was swamped with gay guys who wanted his picture, and he eventually stopped taking pictures. He was like, ‘I just want to enjoy my time! I’m done taking pictures!’ I told my friends, ‘Watch this. I will 100% get a picture with him even if he says he won’t take anymore.’
I barely watched that season and barely remember what he did, but I went up to him and said, ‘Mike. You changed my life on your season of The Real World. You’re the biggest role model on the show! I was on a bad path, and you made me change my life so much. I’m so thankful.’ He was like, ‘Oh my God, man. That’s amazing.’ He was telling me all the stuff he was doing, and I didn’t give a f*ck. At the end of it, ‘Could I get a picture with you? It’d mean the world to me.’ I took the picture and flashed the other gays a c*nty smile. Like, ha ha, b*tches. I got it and you didn’t. So I’m the world’s biggest assh*le. I was super drunk. At the end of all of that, I asked him, “So are you gonna do The Challenge?” And he was like, ‘Are you seriously asking me that? Go f*ck yourself.’”