In “news” that was leaked weeks ago, Los Angeles real estate agent Josh Flagg, one of the stars of Bravo‘s Million Dollar Listing, officially came out on Tuesday night’s episode. While it’s always great when anyone comes out, the news that Flagg is gay was greeted mostly with shrugs, probably for a variety of reasons.
For starters, Flagg wasn’t exactly in the closet except on Million Dollar Listing. He’s been seen around L.A. with boyfriend Colton Thorn a number of times at public events where their attendance as a couple was reported, and he specifically introduced Thorn as his boyfriend during one interview available on YouTube since last year (as opposed to some Hollywood stars living in the glass closet who have never made any public acknowledgment of their same-sex partner and decline to answer the question when asked).
For another thing, gay visibility on television is drastically improved over what it was five years ago, so the news that a minor reality star is gay isn’t exactly earth-shattering. On top of that MLD isn’t exactly American Idol and Flagg was hardly the most popular or interesting person on the show. That honor would probably go to Madison Hildebrand, who came out as bisexual in 2008 (when he also posed for Playgirl).
The show teased Flagg’s coming out as a somewhat momentous decision being driven by the fact that the 25-year-old was writing his memoir (that coincidentally came out just this week). One scene from last week’s episode showed Flagg discussing the book with his business manager who ominously wanted to know if Flagg had discussed all of the details with certain parties because once the book went to print, there would be no going back.
The “certain” party in this case is Thorn, Flagg’s boyfriend of three years. Clearly viewers were meant to think that this was going to be some sort of big shock to him since the editing implied Flagg had told him nothing about the book.
That led to this week’s episode where Flagg sits Thorn down to talk about the book and, in a scene that is as staged as the million dollar houses Flagg sells, they discuss whether or not his memoir should include information about the fact that Flagg is gay. While it’s possible the two had never before discussed the issue, it hardly seems likely and Thorn wasn’t exactly shocked. (Frankly, if Flagg had never discussed it with Thorn, I’d suggest couples counseling fast.)
All in all, there wasn’t much there there. It’s great that Flagg is out publicly, and I think it says something about gay visibility today that the show could be so … glib about someone coming out.
Josh Flagg and fellow realtor Josh Altman
In an interview with the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Flagg discussed his decision to come out, as well as comparing how he did it compared to Hildebrand. Flagg comes off mostly well in the interview, and definitely better than he usually does on the show.
Asked why he chose to come out now on MDL, Flagg told the SDGLN, “You know my sexuality does not define me, it is not who I am, but rather
it is part of me, and I did not ever want people to think of me as ‘the
gay real estate guy,’ I did not want that to be the only demographic
that was watching me on TV or the only demographic to associate with me.
I am very glad I did things the way I did because I feel I eased people
into it and I made people comfortable with ME, and then kind of just
dropped the fact that I like guys instead of girls. Many people knew,
many had no idea.”
Asked how being out on the show will affect his relationship with Hildebrand who “…beat [Flagg] to the punch in coming out,” a defensive Flagg says, “Madison did not beat me to the punch. Madison just decided to come out
on national television before I did, but as far as I know, I was out to
the people I wanted to be out to well before Madison was. … How will it affect my situation with Madison?
Well, I certainly don’t think negatively. You know Madison chose to come
out on TV and make a big to do about it, which I respect. I took a
different approach, a more subtle approach, and I kind of like the way
Bravo did it … slowly revealing my life…”
A different approach? A more subtle approach? Seriously?