Big Brother's Openly Gay All Star Contestant Plans to Go All the Way
Last night, CBS announced the top twenty candidates to move into the Big Brother 7: All Stars house on July 6th. Now it is up to America to vote in their favorite houseguests from seasons past. The ever popular, ever scandalous show runs all summer long and ends with one final houseguest winning $500,000.
One expected shoe-in to make it into the house (and maybe even win) is openly gay Big Brother 3 contestant, Marcellas Reynolds. Not only is Marcellas one of the most popular players ever, but he has continued to work with the show, hosting the Big Brother chat show "House Calls" on the web. AfterElton.com got an exclusive chance to chat with Reynolds as he waits to find out his own All Stars fate.
AfterElton.com: How do you think networks portray gay reality show contestants as compared to cable outlets?
Marcellas Reynolds: We are always comic relief period. If this were math, we would be broken down to our most common denominators. We're either funny or mean and bitchy or overly femme/emotional. It's not good, I'm sad to say.
AE: Do you think American Idol and those type of shows purposefully stay away from gay contestants? What do you think of Simon Cowell? Do you think he's homophobic?
MR: American Idol is the worst show on TV. First, the singers are at best mediocre. It fosters this erroneous belief that anyone can be a singer. That you can skip steps and bang! You are famous. I hate how they clown [up] overweight people when Randy is huge and Simon has tits and shouldn't be wearing those tight t-shirts. I hate how they treat gay contestants when Simon and Ryan are two of the most feminine men on TV. Gay contestants may not make it on the show but AI sure exploits them in the audition episodes. It's an outrage.
AE: Do you see homophobia in reality TV? How about inside the house?
MR: Homophobia is rampant everywhere, not just in TV. George Bush wants to sanction homophobia. During Big Brother 3 the House Guests weren't homophobes. I just think in that situation anything that makes you different gives the competitors reason to get rid of you. For me it was being African-American and homo***ual.
AE: Do you think viewers will really vote for a gay man to win?
MR: Yes. I think that the viewer actually begins to feel they know the houseguests. If a particular houseguest has made a connection with the public, I think the public will reward them. The public loves an underdog. And usually the homo***ual is that. Now the question is: can he survive that or work it to his advantage?
AE: Do you feel special pressure as a gay black man to be a role model since there are precious few black gay role models on TV or in movies?
MR: I feel so much pressure in my life to be a good role model. It's one of the reasons during BB3 I was nominated. I was so afraid to look bad or "act" black or "gay" that I was just closed down! I wasn't myself. It was only when I opened up that the House Guests and the fans connected with me. I've felt since I was very young that if any person had a good or positive interaction with me it opens the door to them being kinder and more welcoming to other African-Americans. It's a tremendous pressure. And it's one I still carry.
AE: Do you think there will be more than one gay man in the house this season? If so, do you think you will automatically align?
MR: There will never be more than one homo***ual male in the Big Brother house. And if there were, the two wouldn't automatically align. I think it would be like that old-school slave mentality thing; there can be only one. African-Americans are sort of culturally programmed to distrust each other. It was something I encountered often as a model and I've encountered the same phenomena among homo***ual males competing for jobs. And a spot on Big Brother is a job.
AE: Would you "hook up" in the house?
MR: No. I wouldn't do that. There are some things that are private. Besides the homo***ual males that have been past houseguests on Big Brother haven't been my type. Though I did think Will Wikle was cute! And I wouldn't put the moves on any straight house guest, though a lot of those guys could easily be mistaken as at the least bi. Straight guys are a turn-off for me. It kinda creeps me out. I just don't understand hetero***uality. I like girls. I think they are pretty but sleep with one? That moment has passed!
AE: Do you think America is ready for two gay guys getting romantic on Big Brother?
MR: No. A show like Boy Meets Boy couldn't even get sponsors! And then it had to have one of the meanest twists in reality TV history. They would never have put a few homo***uals in on The Bachelorette! I'm dying for a hot homo to make it on that show, get chosen and then turn her down! It's mean, but it's time!
AE: What do you hope to show to America personally, and about gays, while in the house?
MR: I want America to see that all humans are the same. We all want the same things! To be healthy and happy. To be treated with respect and kindness. To love and be loved in return.
AE: What's your strategy for winning?
MR: Honestly, I don't have a clear cut strategy. For me it's all about situational ethics. Last time I played the game for other people. I didn't believe in myself. I trusted the wrong people. I trusted the African-American female because she was my familiar. I trusted the caucasian Christian guy because he seemed good. They were my undoing. This time I'm trusting myself and putting myself first. I deserve to win BB All Stars as much as anyone. More actually.
AE: What do you think viewers can expect this season from All Stars?
MR: It will be a bloodbath. The strongest competitors playing the ultimate game? It will be crazy, ***y, diabolical fun.
AE: What are you going to miss most from the outside world?
MR: My friends. My family. My life really. I have a wonderful, blessed life. I work a lot and am surrounded by amazing people. I will miss them like crazy. One thing I learned after lasting 10 weeks out of 12 during Big Brother 3 is to value what is true. People that you can trust, people that love you and you love. Oh and I'm gonna miss my cell phone, my closet, and bathroom. My bathroom is like a spa!
AE: Who are you most looking forward to playing the game with?
MR: Will Kirby, Janelle, James, Hardy, Nicole, Jase, Diane, Alison, Danielle. I like the people who play the hardest. Who take risks and take hits.
AE: What did you learn on the first show that you are taking with you for this experience?
MR: I learned not to trust. It's sad, but true. I learned that people who seem good can be bad. I learned to trust my inner voice. I learned that I'm a pretty good guy.
AE: Are you guys going to go after the winners of previous shows first like they did on Survivor All Stars?
AE: Are you single outside of the house? What's dating like? Do people sometimes pursue you because you were on a reality show?
MR: I'm seeing a few people. No one contender has really stepped up to the plate and knocked the others aside. Dating is good for me. I meet a lot of guys. I've dated my share of strippers and porn stars. Now I'm looking for a nice guy that wants a relationship. People definitely pursued me after BB3 because of that notoriety. I'm on TV a lot now. I think I'm known for stuff other than BB. I still get the gold-diggers and the hangers-on. But I've grown a lot. Now I meet good men also. And I know the difference.
AE: Do you get both fan mail and hate mail? What's that like?
MR: I get lots of fan mail. After BB3 I got letters from women asking why I was gay and saying if I met them they could change me! I also got letters from a couple guys in prison which I thought was funny with a side of creepy. I get the stray marriage proposal or request for a date. The best letters are the ones I get from gay kids who say that watching me helped them come out or from gay viewers who watched with their families. I love that my appearance on BB started a dialogue. Visibility is so important.
AE: How does the African American community embrace you/treat you?
MR: Black women love me! They are so funny. They hate Danielle for stabbing me in the back. They understood the game I was playing. And everyone wants a gay sidekick! I was pleasantly surprised by the African-American community. I've never had a single bad interaction with any black fan. They are the fans that come right up and congratulate me or ask, "What the hell were you thinking?" I felt the most love and respect from the African-American community after the show. Much more than the gay community. Black men are invisible or just a stereotype in the homo***ual community.
AE: What do you hope to gain out of this new season of All Stars? MR: I want to win. I want to prove to people that I'm not an idiot for trusting Danielle and Jason. During BB3
I played an emotional game. I'm an emotional person. I gave my heart and trust to the wrong people. I'm human. We do that. Hopefully we learn. I also wanna have fun this summer. To really get to know that other houseguests. Some amazing people have been a part of Big Brother. This is my chance to hang out with the creme de la creme!
AE: Is it harder to be an actor because you are a reality star or because you are gay?
MR: It was easier to be a TV host because I am homo***ual. Though now I'm feeling a little bit of a backlash from that. I did Big Brother right before the Queer Eye phenomenon. In fact I was a finalist for both Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and QEFTS Girl. As usual in Hollywood when something hits there is a rush to duplicate it. I was right there on the cusp. I'd get to the final round in auditions, but never quite make it.
That was when I felt I wasn't getting things because I'm African-American. I'm still shocked at how few African-Americans are on TV. It's sad, but until we come together as a block and make things change [they won't change]. The same can be said for homo***uals. Until we come together and throw our collective weight around and make the world take us seriously, well, George Bush is our President.
AE: How do you stay involved in the LGBT community?
MR: Gosh I do tons of charity work. I work with Project Angel Food and the APLA. I've also worked with the National Aids Fund and I'm a member of Lambda Legal. If any charity needs my help I'm there. I feel like if you have anything you must give back. I came from very little. I know what it's like to have nothing. If I can help I will.
AE: What's the hardest part of being gay for you? And the best part?
MR: The hardest part of being gay is seeing negative images used as propaganda against us. I hate seeing images of leather guys or drag queens or shirtless circuit boys and then hearing about the "gay agenda" or the spread of aids or the "gay menace." It's as bad as watching the news and seeing an African-American male in handcuffs. There seems to be so much misinformation out there about what we do and who we are. We are just like everyone else.
The best part? That's weird. Hmmm. I don't know. Being homo***ual is who I am. That's like asking what's the best part of being African-American or being male or being alive. The best part? The inherent style, class, sophistication and thirst for knowledge and beauty most gay men have. The *** is good, too. I'm a happy person. My life, the whole thing is the best. I'm happy being me.