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Bravo's 'Boy Meets Boy' gay bachelor star: "I felt betrayed"


By Reality TV World staff, 07/20/2003 

When Bravo's upcoming "Boy Meet Boy" was first announced and the premise revealed, we were sure that gay rights groups would have rightfully been up in arms and protesting the staging of a "Bachelor"-like program in which a gay man is looking to select a partner from a group of 15 suitors that, unbeknownst to the eligible bachelor, contains numerous straight men who were paid by the program to pretend to be gay.

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Instead, much to our shock, the only reported public comment on the issue by a gay rights group was instead supportive of the project. But clearly someone was upset at the show's premise -- namely the program's gay bachelor star who tells Newsweek that he felt betrayed after learning of the deceptive twist.

In the interview, James, the human-resources executive from California who stars in the program, says he "felt betrayed" and was "livid" when the show's producers finally let him in on the secret after he'd narrowed the initial field of fifteen suitors down to three. "They told me they put the twist in there because they wanted straight people to watch," he says. "I said to them, ‘Well, you’ve played gay people as entertainment for straight people. Of course they’re going to watch’."

Douglas Ross, the show’s executive producer and a gay man himself, defends the show, saying that he "wanted to test boundaries between gay and straight, and create a world where the straight people were in the closet." Ross says that the show combed bars "across California" (forget about any nationwide suitors on this show) looking for straight men who were "curious to see how the other half dates." The straight men -- which included at least one aspiring actor looking to hone his craft -- were instructed to fabricate gay dating histories, and warned them they had to be willing to kiss another guy. "Watching the episodes, it’s impossible to tell who’s gay and who’s straight," says Ross. "That’s the point of the show."

Since the program features a supposedly all-gay cast, the program was unique in that it also created the possibility that relationships might also develop among the fifteen suitors themselves -- and at least one did. Unfortunately for the admirer, the crushee was one of the closet straight men, and he felt so bad about the situation that he went to the producers. The gay admirer says that when he learned the truth, "it hurt. A whole relationship that could have happened was just immediately taken away."

James says he also fears that the program will perpetuate homophobic stereotypes. "It may reinforce the idea that gay men secretly like straight men, but have to hide it." Ross objects, "Please!" "Gay men are attracted to men. Sometimes they’re straight, sometimes they’re gay. The show demonstrates that gay men can be attracted to straight men and that straight men are OK with it."

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