Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Real World Tackles the “T” in GLBTQ

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If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you know that I have an unhealthy addiction to reality television. Survivor. Ace of Cakes. The Mole (a fantastic show that Scott Heim thankfully turned me on to). When I’m really procrastinating, I’ll settle for The Real Housewives of Orange County or possibly the worst dose of reality TV ever made (and there’s a slew of contenders): Temptation Island. One of my many secrets, truth be told, is that I’ve even been called back to several reality TV show auditions. My nephew Witt and I were intent on travelling the world in The Amazing Race a couple years ago.

Today, Queerty posted a headline that posited: “Gayest. Real World. Ever.”  Hmm. Definitely gave me pause and sent me to view the episode. (You can watch the full episode here.)

The surprising thing about this year’s cast is not that there are 8 members, but that one of the cast members, Katelynn, is transgendered. How do other cast members behave before she comes out? Childish and immature. Accusatory. One of the young men even admits that he’s ignorant.

However, one cast member, JD, seems to be thinking and behaving like a gentleman. He asks Katelynn to dinner for a talk outside the warehouse set, choosing to be supportive and at one point, even holding her hand. I’ll admit the curmudgeon in me got a little teary-eyed when JD said to her that he “had her back.” Not weepy, mind you, just a little teary-eyed.

For a reality TV show–and one of the granddaddies of the genre–The Real World has never shied away from casting gays and lesbians.

It’s refreshing to see that they’re once again asking young American viewers to test their assumptions, to face their perhaps unacknowledged prejudices (something that I, too, often have to admit; I often cite, in a self-deprecating way, that Avenue Q song, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist“), and to really talk–or better yet, argue–about individual beliefs.

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Filed under: gay rights, television, , , ,

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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