While the number of gay/bisexual characters on scripted
television has, at best, held steady over the past decade (and doesn’t exactly
represent the diversity of gay men in the real world), it’s a different story
when it comes to the depiction of gay men on reality television. Indeed, along
with the explosion of reality programming has come a dramatic increase in the
numbers and types of gay and bisexual men appearing on our television screens.
From the groundbreaking appearance of Pedro Zamora on The
Real World: San Francisco to the
current seasons of The Amazing Race, Survivor: Tocantins, and Make Me a Supermodel, there is a breadth
of gay men that is quite frankly astounding.
In fact, there have now been so many gay and bisexual men
on reality television that we decided to let AfterElton.com readers choose
their favorites of all time. Here are the top fifteen who run the gamut of
ages, ethnicities and types reflecting the range of gay men that exist in
And as a bonus, we took this chance to catch up with most of the
guys to find out what they are up to now as well as their thoughts about making
the list. Enjoy!
#1 Danny Roberts
Appeared on: The Real World: New Orleans
Photo credit: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
When Roberts first appeared on MTV’s flagship reality show, he was hardly
the first gay man to have done so. But when the Georgia native not only revealed he
was dating Paul Dill, a U.S. Army captain, but had Dill appear on the show with
him, viewers were riveted. Due to the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy it
was necessary for Dill’s face to be obscured, which served to highlight the
policy’s blatant discrimination and the stress it placed on the relationships.
After leaving the military, Dill made a second appearance along with Roberts in
2004 to discuss the effects of the policy on gay service members.
Unfortunately, Roberts announced that he and Dill split in 2006.
After The Real World, Roberts used
his newfound fame to speak out on gay issues and, traveling around on the
country, to lecture about sexual diversity, Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and coming
out. The way Roberts handled himself on the show and his work for gay
visibility afterward no doubt account for his placing number one on this list.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris nicely summed up Robert’s legacy when he told Out Magazine:
The first face that empowered me was Danny Roberts from The Real World: New Orleans. I think
before him I’d never seen anyone wear [homosexuality] so comfortably. He was
around my age. I could look to him as a role model – if you could say that,
even though he was on a reality show. He represented a way that I could behave
and stand tall comfortably without being an overt advocate and without being
someone hiding in the shadows. I liked that.
And so do AfterElton.com readers!
What was the best part of your
experience? That’s a tough one to say but I think overall, this entire
experience has let me grow as a person in so many ways that I probably wouldn’t
otherwise. Having yourself put into the public’s eye exposes you as the raw,
true self you are and that includes the bad and the good. In our egocentric
world, most people avoid facing their faults and spend all of their energy
glossing over them. This experience pretty much throws your faults in your face
and makes you examine yourself from the inside out. In the same sense, it helps
you see what is valuable about yourself and what qualities you possess that
should be cultivated to become a better person. It has been a very long and
difficult process but I think I’m now so much more the better person for taking
on the person in the mirror that was presented to me years ago through the TV.
How did it change you? I am much
more certain about myself now than I was ever before. I was very young and
mostly closeted when that experience happened. After the show and the
subsequent self-evaluation, I’ve grown into an adult who knows what I want from
life and what I want to avoid at all cost. Privacy is more valuable to me now
than ever before. It’s something we all take for granted but when it’s gone,
life can be a nightmare.