Gayest. Real World. Ever

OMG! While “the gay one” is a staple of almost every season of MTV’s long-in-the-tooth reality show The Real World, the show’s latest edition, which premiered last night (and which you can watch online), is a fagariffic journey into the gay-gay-gay heart of America’s youth.

Pity the Mormon mothers who tune in looking forward to seeing a nice Mormon boy show the rest of America how they rock in Salt Lake, only to be greeted by 23-year-old Chet Cannon – a nice Mormon boy (VIRGIN!) – who makes up for his lack of ever having had sex by, well, dressing like a twink bottom on the way to Boysroom. Oh, and he sews his own outfits.

But Chet and his skinny jeans are just the tip of this rainbow-hued, manufactured, conflict iceberg that makes Queer as Folk seem positively regressive and breeder-filled. Already, we can see how much we are going to hate the Real World tools on this season, but if the show offers a snapshot of America’s kids, it’s safe to say that, while they’re in no way, shape or form “alright,” they sure are fabulous.

The Transgendered One

For the first time ever on the show, a transgendered person lives in the house. Just three weeks after her gender-reassignment surgery in Thailand, Katelynn Cusanelli lands in New York, where she’s greeted by Scott Herman. (Herman shall henceforth be known as Abs, since not only did he win an award for having the best set on the East Coast, it’s his only distinguishing feature. We’ll get to him in a minute.) Abs tells the camera how he likes the way Katelynn’s a bit of a tom boy and how he relates to girls like that– and we’re hooked! Red Hooked!

First off, we love Katelynn off the bat. She reminds us of Invisible Girl from The Incredibles, right down to the long-hair constantly covering her face and the crippling lack of self-esteem. Though she’s now got a boyfriend at home in West Palm Beach, Florida, being the first trangendered person on The Real World has to be pretty daunting, so Katelynn defuses the tension by talking about how she’s been in orgies (“polyamory” she explains to Mormon Boy, who doesn’t know what the word means) and by running around in tight pink short shorts. This makes her awesome. Also in the “Katelynn is awesome” department is the fact that she’s already blogged about her hatred of The Gothamist.

J.D. Ordonez
Anderson Cooper‘s Ex Boyfriend

So, there’s a rumor that Miami dolphin trainer J.D. Ordonez is the ex-boyfriend of Anderson Cooper. Of course, Anderson’s not gay at all, so obviously its a vicious, vicious lie, but we’re going with it anyway, since we’ve been talking about it before J.D. was even cast on the show. (If making wild speculations about the cast of a reality show bothers you, we’re not sure why you’re reading this article. What do you watch reality TV for? The product placement?)

You can tell J.D.’s spent a lot of time in therapy, as he has the lingo down pat and, frankly, in the first episode he comes off as kind of a prick. From the get-go he realizes Katelynn is transgendered (because he you know, has eyes) and decides that what he needs to do is take her out to dinner and make her come out to him. We can see why the Coop no longer dates a guy whose first impulse when he meets someone is to get them to divulge their personal secrets, but whatever– at least J.D. takes Katelynn to dinner at ELMO, which is a totally cute restaurant in Chelsea that I bet Anderson took J.D. to when they dated.

OH: and Katelynn does “come out” to J.D. after he confesses that not only he’s gay, but his father was horribly abusive and his family life growing up was a living hell. They do this in a cab and then they both start crying and holding each other. This isn’t misty-eyed-couple-of-tears-rolling-down-your-face crying, it’s sobbing loudly while clinging to each other waterworks. It’s supposed to be tender, but it comes off as awkward. The tiny Tom Hanks voice in our head screams, “There’s no crying in baseball!”

The Straight Mormon Fag

When roommate Ryan (we’re getting to him) tells Chet that J.D. sets off his gaydar, Chet explains off-camera that he doesn’t seem to have a gaydar and can’t tell if a person is gay or not. This is hilarious, because Chet is obviously gay and unable to recognize it, which sounds like something we should all grab each other and sob about. Fortunately for us, Chet makes willful self-delusion entertaining and fun, and the producers have clearly decided Chet’s here to make us larf.

We get scene after scene of all the other boys and girls in the house talking about Chet’s pink clothes, skinny jeans (“You left your balls in the sink, man!” Ryan says at one point) and the fact that he’s never had sex in his whole life, and watch them marvel that Chet’s not a total flaming homo. Chet’s defense is that he’s just a totally flaming metrosexual conservative Mormon dude, which is a nice idea in theory, but come on.

We have two theories about Chet. The first and most likely is that he’s totally gay and horribly repressed by his Mormon upbringing. This, of course, is what’s going on, but just in case it’s not, option two: Because Chet has grown up in Salt Lake, he missed out on the fact that “metrosexual” isn’t actually a real thing at all, but rather a way for straight New York boys to get girls who, because they’re surrounded by gay men who dress well and use product all day, have come to expect basic grooming habits out of the male sex. It’s like Chet picked up an article about metrosexuals one day, decided it was the thing to do and then took the concept further than any self-respecting straight man ever would. Yeah, yeah: people should be able to express themselves whatever way they want—I know. Which is why I am expressing myself right now when I say, “Dude. You’re 23. You’ve never had sex. You line your jacket’s popped collar with fuchsia on your sewing machine. Give. Us. A. Break.”

The Ex-Lesbian

Sarah’s mainly been with girls and is in her first serious relationship with a dude, which, unlike Chet’s self-denial, seems totally sane and normal. This is also because we like Sarah. We would want Sarah to be our friend. Sarah’s really big on validating other people, which is always nice, but she also seems to be the only cast member interested in getting to know the other cast members as people instead of you know, figuring out what label they are. This could be because she’s training to be an art therapist, but mostly we think it’s because she’s a good person.

The Veteran

It’s because of Sarah’s curiosity that we get to see that Ryan, who’s Aeropostale cap and cocky grin would normally have us peg him as “The Asshole,” is actually one of the most complex people on the show. She casually asks about what he’s done with his life so far and he mentions he was in the military. It gets heavy fast:

Sarah: Oh, wow. See, I knew there was more to you than just being the shy guy. Where were you stationed.

Ryan: Oh, Iraq (His bio mentions he was one of Saddam’s guards at his trial).

Sarah: Wow. Did you ever have to shoot a gun?

Ryan gets a far away look.

Ryan: Yeah.

Sarah: Did you ever have to shoot at people?

At this point, Ryan’s face does something that makes him look like a five-year-old boy and when he speaks again his voice has become tiny and far away.

Ryan: Yeah.

Sarah: How was that?

And then Ryan explains that he’s neatly divided his life between Iraq and America, but also mentions in the same breath how a service buddy of his had just killed himself because he was unable to deal with the post-traumatic stress and it’s at this point that we remind ourselves that Generation Y, or whatever you want to call it, is hardly the materialistic, fame-obsessed vacuous non-entity that some older generations we will not mention here try to depict us as. That in fact, our generation has had to deal with some Pretty Heavy Stuff at a pretty young age, and that rather than complaining and whining about the unfairness of it all, for the most part, we just Deal With It.

And if Dealing With It sometimes involves listening to the Jonas Brothers, or breaking down in tears in a cab with a complete stranger, or oversharing your emotions on Facebook, or signing up for a reality show, we’re okay with that.

Then later in the episode, Ryan asks J.D. about Katelynn’s transgendered status and refers to her as an “it.”

Epic fail, buddy. Though in his defense, he immediately says that he’s ignorant and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, which is why he’s asking. MTV’s doing a whole post-game show that’s too douchey to go into any detail here other than to mention that we see Ryan and Katelyn talk about this moment. Katelynn explains that while it’s always hard to hear stuff like that, she knows that Ryan’s view has evolved over the course of the show, though to what degree remains to be seen. They do a freestyle acoustic guitar round robin later in the post-game (don’t ask) and Katelynn sings about how Ryan is mean to her, so there’s that.


And then there’s Abs to bring us back to Earth. Abs remains adorably clueless that Katelynn is transgendered. He also pretty much spends all of his time in the gym. I don’t mean at home, but here, in the Real World house. Like most of this cast, Abs wants to use his spot on the show to advance his career, which he seems to think should be acting and modeling– and hey! He’s on the cover of Men’s Fitness, so there you go!

He also, thus far, has the personality of a turnip.

Devyn and Baya
The Single Ladies

Hey, just like in real Brooklyn, the straight girls on The Real World: Brooklyn are totally fucked when it comes to finding available men.

Devyn is the only one in the cast who has the whole “Here’s who I want to hook-up with” thing going on and her interest is focused on Abs’ abs. Baya wants to be a dancer, she says, but from the way she dances, we’re not sure she doesn’t mean she wants to be an exotic dancer. And while this makes us sound horribly misogynistic, it’s really just that these two get little to no time in the first episode, what with all the gay, transgender, sexual ambiguity going on.

We’re not going to watch the new Real World, but we will say it’s had a real commitment to putting a human face on the LGBT community. The third season of the show featured Pedro Zamora, who died of AIDS mere hours after the final episode aired, and who basically, taught the country what it was like to have the disease. The decision to put Katelynn on the show is as courageous a decision as Katelynn’s decision to be on it. People will form opinions about her and,like on all reality shows, they will decide what they like and don’t like about her. But they’ll be making opinions about her as a person. They’ll know a transgendered person, even if it’s just via schlocky reality TV show.

The Real World turns 21 this year, finally old enough to join its subjects for a drink. Cheers.

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  • Michael

    “She reminds us of Invisible Girl from The Incredibles, right down to the long-hair constantly covering her face and the crippling lack of self-esteem.”

    Step away from the keyboard, gents. This is and shall forever be the best line ever written on this site. I don’t think you can ever top this. I laughed out loud. I’ve never done that on Queerty before. Sure, I’ve banged my fists and hurled vitriol…

  • Jeremy Feist

    For serious? I loved The Incredibles, and The Invisible Girl was the best! Does Katelynn sound like Sarah Vowell too? Either way.

  • Zach

    My theory on Chet is that he is majorly gay, but, as he said early on in the show, he is VERY religious. I don’t have to tell you the repression of his sexuality that must happen every second of his life. Besides, he wears tighter jeans than I have even thought about. He does have an interesting/cool fashion sense that sets him apart from most gays I know and I kinda like it — even if I would never dream of wearing it.

    I give it two or three weeks before we hear him sobbing about being confused and wishing his life were different.

    Waiting. For. It.

  • uwyoalum

    Weren’t there rumors of Anderson Cooper dating Norman during the filming of REAL WORLD I? Wouldn’t this make the second REAL WORLD inhabitant that Anderson Cooper has been linked to romantically?


    “The Ex-Lesbian?” Queerty, try Bi, you know, from L-G-B-T? The letter is there for a reason. An you say you would like her as your friend, but why would she be if she is, as you write, “…the only cast member interested in getting to know the other cast members as people instead of…figuring out what label they are,” when you just slapped her with a label—that isn’t even accurate. Lame.

  • Dan

    Actually the Norm rumor (which was true) was he was dating a TV reporter – Charles Perez, not Anderson Cooper. Sorry to spoil your fantasy of Anderson dating multiple cast members.

  • sam

    @LGBT POLICE: Oh calm down. She INTRODUCED herself as someone in her first serious hetero relationship. I’ll give you 3-1 odds none of her relatives wear PFOX buttons. It’s a JOKE. Also, I couldn’t help but detect more than a hint of “I JUST took this class!” glee in her eye when she asked the Veteran one “How did that make you feel?”

    My single lesbian friend loved her, though, so, there’s that.

  • Pragmatist


    That is seriously some of the best writing I’ve seen on this blog (and it’s quite often very good). This post was engaging, funny, and original. I don’t even like the Real World, but you’ve described it with such enthusiasm that I now feel compelled to watch. Good job!

  • Slider

    Dan, it was no rumor that Norm was dating Charles Perez, who was Norm’s boyfriend.

    Both appeared on the first Real World, which showed them kissing and was the first same sex kiss shown on the Real World. Both have acknowledged that they dated each other. They were a very cute couple.

  • GranDiva

    God, is that show still on? I’m a year younger than the oldest of the season 1 cast member. Way out of the demographic of the network, much less that show.

    Jon Murray needs to hang it up on this one and devote more time to raising his kid.

  • Chelsea Resident

    Didn’t the New Orleans one have a religious closet case as well?

  • Qjersey

    Isn’t Charles Perez now a anchorman in Miami?

  • paperbackkbook

    scott needs no personality, his abs make up for it.

  • NateinSLC

    I think I had a class with Chet last year.

    My gaydar is horribly broken, but I don’t think he’s gay. I just think he’s more comfortable with his sexuality than some people.


  • jojo

    Please drive a stake into this show. Where do they find these idiots for this show?

  • GranDiva

    Famewhoring is universal. If you can’t get on Real World, you go on Amazing Race and then get a job working for Jackie Warner so you can get on Work Out and hopefully your own spinoff show on Bravo…

    Or is that just that faux lesbian Rebecca?

  • Cody

    This seems to be the most interesting Real World cast since the New Orleans season. God, I wish the would put RW New Orleans out on DVD……

  • Julian

    I like how people who admit they are out of the show’s target audience complain about it. Its like any of us (most of us?) watching Hannah Montana. What do you care?

    PS: I AM in the show’s target audience, and I’ve thought that the show was pretty lame, but I’m interested to learn more about Katelyn and the war veteran.

  • D.

    nice analysis. I really like the show!

  • Vartan Hagopian

    In Pashto that would be:

    Hamágha luy Talibani sta.

    It also seems to have been used until the 1950s in English royal
    circles to hail an evening of abandoned homosexual activity:

    “Their Majesties enjoyed a gay evening at the Apollo Theatre and were
    graciously pleased to allow the director, Mr. Oscar Wilde ( a
    notorious Irish sodomite and heterophobe), to entertain them.”

    Taking turns pawing Lord Alfred Douglas, no doubt – filthy beasts!
    What a pity Unki’s great-grandfather wasn’t there to parade the
    famous, fabulous,alabaster family buttocks around – Unki might have been Lord
    Tallaght today and persona non grata at the Palace for having slipped
    a length or ten to the Royal Wives of Windsor – Di, Fergie, Ann, Zara,
    Sarah Chatto… all tasteful alabaster buttocks fanciers!

    Ah, life as it should have been… (Visions of mesel pocketing the
    wheesht money to keep Lord Unki de Talaght’s name out of the News of
    the World and the Waterford Weekly…)

  • Kenster999

    Excellent write-up, prompting me to watch the episode.

    Actually, my favorite line was when Katelynn was foolishly bragging about her various sexual adventures, and said she believed in “polyamory”. Chet, the Mormon, asked why she used that word. She broke it down for him:

    “Poly, meaning ‘many’…”, she said.

    “I know what ‘poly’ means,” mumbled the Mormon.


    I wonder when this filmed, and if the whole Prop 8 / Mormon controversy will make an appearance.

  • Vartan Hagopian

    I believe when the Islamic and Latino communities become the predominant population in this country they will have a more sympathetic ear toward the gay agenda.

  • Ripper

    @vartan hagopian

    the latinos maybe, but the islamic community has a very harsh stance on homosexuality. Far from the “fundamentalist” christians who wondemn them, the islamic community makes the news around the world for hanging, stoning, and otherwise killind people for being gay.

  • damien

    I like everyone that’s on it which is odd. I love JD and Sarah is just plain awesome; they are my two favorite. Chet is weird but has a unique sense of humor. Ryan has a cute charm to him and is not as ignorant as I would have guessed based on what MTV has shown. Scott is seems super sweet to everyone all the time. Devyn and Baya are nice as well. And Kaitlyn adds a new variable to the show. None of the guys or girls are homophobic and all seem either already very open minded or willing to learn and experience together.

  • the word

    chet cannon needs to go kill himself immediately, he is a self loathing cunt!!!!

  • IndySkye

    JD taking it upon himself to get a stranger to divulge their secrets was strange and intrusive. I agree that the dramatic ride with him and Katelynn was awkward. It may be good television, but there are some private things people should keep to themselves.

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