To Outwit and Outlast, Survivor‘s Spencer Stays in the Closet

VOTE BELOW — On every reality show, we immediately check out the cast to see “WHO’S THE GAY ONE?!” There’s almost always an answer on The Real World — and Survivor too. This season it was Spencer Duhm, who’s already been on your radar for the pre-show interview where he explained how he didn’t want to be known as the “gay contestant.” Or, rather, a screaming queen, as he so eloquently put it, like past contestants Charlie, Coby, or Todd. Nevermind that Spencer and Todd are now dating. But it was on last night’s show where we saw Spencer’s true colors. Supposedly an openly gay man, Spencer led teammate Sydney Wheeler into believing he was straight, as a measure of strategy. Explained 19-year-old Spencer to the camera: “I haven’t told them only because I feel like in the culture that we live in, there’s nothing really to gain, or not much to gain, by people finding out you are gay.” We already thought the kid was naive; then he went and branded himself on national TV as self-hating. We won’t spoil anything, but let’s see how that strategy worked out for him. SPOILERS AHEAD!

[flv: 600 340]

Well, he was voted out. Not for being gay, but because he anchored the blame for his team losing the immunity challenge.

Now, you tell us: When it comes to playing a game (for $1 million!) involving physical strength as well as social skills, is hiding your sexuality a kosher strategic move? Does it — in grandiose terms — set “the community” back? Past contestants have hid their celebrity status, their real careers, and plenty of other personal details — is it the same when Spencer hides his sexuality? He never explicitly lied about it, but he certainly didn’t correct anyone’s assumptions.

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  • Brenterino

    I knew the gay blogs would be all over this, I say it’s okay to play your cards to the chest in a game like this, after all he was totally out when he was alone on camera…sad he got the axe…although I could have handled some m4m action with Brendan…LOL

  • Jon

    Brendan….mmmmm. But, the whole thing about being out….the OBJECTIVE is to win $1 mil, not to wave some rainbow flag. I’m out, loud, whatever….but let’s not confuse activism and visibility with a game where the OBJECTIVE is to win. If blow jobs would have helped, go for it!

  • madmax

    He was just playing the game. Too bad he didn’t try harder in that last challenge.

  • Nick

    I’d see his point if out men hadn’t won previous seasons.

  • kevin (not that one)

    Richard Hatch was the first gay Survivor winner, who did so openly while still playing strategically. He deserved every bit of the money he won because he played the game well and openly as a gay man.

    So I don’t buy Brendan’s excuse.

  • Mad Professah

    He just wasn’t that good at the challenges, as far as I could see.
    I was shocked the other white people kept the Black woman and got rid of the gay white guy [are you SURE no one figured out he was gay??]

  • Kyle24

    Has Spencer ever watched SURVIVOR? Richard Hatch won the show back in 2000 and most recently gayer than gay Todd in 2007. Why would Spencer think that being out would hinder him? It’s 2009! I hear over and over that the younger generation is more comfortable with being gay and integrated with society. Where did it go wrong for Spencer. He acts like he is living in 1989 and not 2009.

  • Brian

    To be honest I think this has less to do with him “trying to win the game” and more to do with the fact that he is 19 years old and still growing up. We all (well most) had an awkward phase where we didn’t want to fully embrace our sexuality and it seems he is still going through this. That being said, I wish he had been more in tune with the struggles the gay community went through in past decades and embraced his own ability to represent the diversity of our community. Short and sweet, he’s just scared.

  • Michael vdB

    It is a game. I don’t hide my sexuality but I don’t go around and introducing myself as Mr. Queer to everyone new I meet. If people ask about my family, I have no problem about talking about my partner and kids which then totally outs me at that point. People need to get past this whole being defined solely on if you are straight or gay. Yes it is 2009. That just tells me that 2009 defines me by who I am and what I do…not who I sleep with.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Michael vdB: Do you lie about your sexual orientation when others bring it up? if so, you can call it wha tgyou want, but that is the closet. Sounds more like you ae a closet case rationalizing it.

  • blake

    Who cares. It’s just a stupid TV show that promotes the worst qualities of people. The object of Survivor is to lie, double cross, cheat, and steal to win the stupid game. In the past, there have been people who have lied about their family members being deathly ill. Survivor represents what we should all aspire not to be.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @blake: There are like- what? 30 of us on broadcast tv and cable right now? I think that’s why people care.

  • Phoenix (Oh, for fucks sake, you people know who I am.)

    Sheesh! What a ditz! I don’t see Spencer “outwitting” anybody.

  • Jonathan

    To play devil’s advocate, it could have been to his advantage to disclose his sexuality. Rafe from season 11 (Guatemala) made sure everyone knew he was gay from the get-go so they wouldn’t think he was a threat and kept him around. He ended up in third and was super close to winning it all…


    @kevin (not that one): Except, of course, the bits he “forgot” to send the IRS…

  • oneway

    I’m willing to give Spencer a “young and doesn’t know better” pass on staying closeted to his fellow castaways.

    But, sorry, you’re not entitled — no matter what your age — to cite stereotypes of people with Southern drawls as justification for doing so.


  • Pragmatist

    Give me a break. The guy’s sexuality is his own personal information, and he should have the absolute and sole discretion of deciding when/where to reveal it. It’s nobody else’s business what he chooses to do with that information.

  • afrolito

    I took an instant dislike to him, after that ill advised interview he did. However, he sort of won me over a bit on the last episode, at least until he started stereotyping the southern dude. He probably should have just been out an open from the beginning, but it’s obvious he still has a few issues with his sexuality. I do see potential for growth though….apparently he’s apologized to the past gay contestants, and he’s dating Todd, who couldn’t be more on fire.

    Maybe he can take solace in the fact he was voted out for being lame at challenges, and not for liking dick.

  • Michael vdB

    @The Gay Numbers:

    Gee, thanks for pointing out my closetness. [eyes rolling]

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