Below, the latest contestant booted from I Want To Work for Diddy talks about his military history, what it was like as an out gay man in the house, Boris’ discomfort with Laverne’s sexuality and why he thinks Laverne did everything she could to further Boris’ discomfort.
How was your time on the show?
My time on the show was interesting, fun, intense…it was just such an interesting experience, one unlike anything I’ve done before. I watch I Love New York and Flavor of Love and when you’re watching them, you never really think what it’s like on the other side of the camera. I got a taste of that, and it’s an experience, to say the least.
I got the sense that you watched reality shows when we saw you rejoicing over the drama between Red and Kim.
Yeah, and at that point, I had a small inkling of hope that I could turn the elimination into something between those two. I went into elimination thinking about voting Red off, but there was a little shouting match and a few other things that went down that turned me against Kim again.
The last thing we saw you saying on the show was that you disagreed with the judges’ decision to kick you off. Now that time has passed and you’ve seen the show, do you still disagree?
I’m just at a point now where there’s no use crying over things that can’t be changed. I think that both me and Kim and different things to bring to the table. From a reality television aspect, I do believe that Kim is somebody that lives and breathes the entertainment industry. I can’t really pretend to be that person. So this may be something that’s better for her than me in the long run. There are a lot of things I want to do in my life, and since the show I’ve realized that entertainment isn’t the be-all, end-all.
You were made to look like you dropped the ball on this week’s challenge. Is there anything you want to clear up about that?
The most difficult part about watching that and about my time on the show so far is that I got out of the military five years ago. Since I’ve gotten out of the military, I got a B.A. in advertising and communications from Syracuse University. I’m a published writer. I’ve done all these things, and it seemed to me that it was more convenient to portray me as an Iraq War veteran and nothing else. Being a soldier isn’t who I am, it’s something that I did.
Were you on the ground in Iraq?
Yes. I was an infantryman. If we had a mission, I was one of the ones on the ground executing it.
Is it possible to sum up that experience?
I’m gonna try. I’m writing a memoir about my time in the military.
I assume that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be a big part of that book?
Absolutely. My experience as somebody who’s a black gay male that served in the military and was deployed twice is uniquely my own. One of the reasons why I did the show and one of the reasons I was open about my sexuality and that I’m a veteran was to shed some light on this. It’s one of the most unfair things going on right now. It’s absurd. The things they say to justify the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy are unfounded.
Hateful. Did you see the recent 60 Minutes segment about this? I don’t know what his rank was, but some military official was expressing vehement support of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. His rationale came down to the fact that his intolerance and discomfort should be everyone’s problem.
People who support Don’t Ask Don’t Tell choose to insult the intelligence of everyone in the United States Military by saying that they’re not mature or smart enough to handle the same rules that go on in the civilian sector. There are all these anti-discrimination laws in the civilian sector. Why can’t that be in the military? The fact that there’s a troop shortage and such an enlistment problem right now, and yet they’re kicking people out and not letting them be who they are. It’s ridiculous.
The section of the show in which you came out was brief. Kendra and Brianna were giggly about it and that’s all we saw. How was your experience with that? Did you face any intolerance?
I didn’t have any problems with anybody. One thing that didn’t end up on camera was my discussion with Kim about that. It was cute, she couldn’t really believe it and we were just talking. It was an interesting little thing that didn’t make it on camera. We actually had a few conversations that didn’t make it on camera, which gave fuel to her perception of betrayal, and I can really understand that.
So you didn’t experience anyone giving you problems the way Boris gave Laverne problems?
I didn’t have any issues like that. No homophobia.
Did you get the sense of Boris’ discomfort with Laverne in the house?
Yeah, that was definitely something that was going down. I got the sense that Boris was uncomfortable with Laverne, but on the other side, Laverne has a very theatrical personality. I definitely got the sense that Laverne was making Boris uncomfortable on purpose, and she was getting a kick out of that. Laverne would walk around in her bra a lot and she would make a point to kind of lean over Boris when he was at the computer. It was very funny to watch. But you know, Boris is a nice guy. Acceptance and tolerance comes with exposure.
Well, that’s what’s frustrating to watch because it’s like, here he is getting exposed and he still can’t handle it.
But you have to think about it. A lot of people aren’t exposed to education and different things. I’m not inclined to be mad at Boris and say, “You’re so hateful, blah blah blah.” It’s just that he doesn’t know any better.
I guess the way I see it is that in 2008, it’s your business to know better, and it’s easy to know better. We have so much information literally at our fingertips. Willful ignorance is a cop-out. I did think that it was great that via you, America got to see the image of a gay man that didn’t conform to stereotypes.
In the black community and especially in the hip-hop community, what images of gay men do we have on television? They’re hairdressers or, at least, more feminine. I just figured I’d go on the show and be me, and be who I am, and maybe that could open somebody’s mind up just a little bit. I wish I was able to last longer so that I could be that a little more.
Have you received any opportunities as a result of the show?
I’m really interested in developing myself as a writer. I have a personal blog, Rob in the City…, and I do recap blogs of the show for AfterElton.com, a website focused on gay-male visibility in the media. The opportunities have mostly come for more professional writing. It’s opened up a lot of things and I’m totally grateful for that.
Any resentment at all? For Kim? Anybody?
I’m on this whole positivity kick. High school is over, so it’d be really juvenile to have resentment against Kim. But I do wish that I could have seen the forest for the trees and been a little more strategic about my selections, but what’s done is done.