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|Bravo's Brad and Gary are a surprising pair of accidental role models|
|by Bo Shell|
|February 16, 2012 17:59|
I've been openly gay for nine years, living in Atlanta for almost seven and recently met a pretty cool dude I enjoy spending time with.
This gay thing is old hat by now.
There are gay people on television everywhere. I try to stay away from most of them, but I was caught off guard the other night when Bravo's "It's a Brad, Brad World" happened to follow one of my must-watch TV shows, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
In this particular episode, our protagonist Brad Goreski, a 30-something fashion stylist launching his own company after parting ways with his reality TV mentor Rachel Zoe, is whisked away to Milan for men's fashion week.
He brings with him an infinite amount of wardrobe changes and his quirky writer/producer husband, Gary Janetti, who's been totally freaking out about the couple's upcoming 10-year anniversary party.
At a made-for-TV dinner in a bougie Italian restaurant — which seems quite redundant as I type — the two are caught staring into each other's eyes, thanking one another for the mutual support that's gotten them this far.
Though I'm generally annoyed by the pair (I'm like, which one's the top?), they seem to be very much in love and, in a super-gay way, are surprisingly good role models for all sorts of gay men growing up (or grown up and totally lost) in a society that tells us we should be proudly promiscuous.
When I was a baby gay in small-town Georgia, there was a devastating shortage of gay role models I could look up to.
In fact, looking back on those dark days — which lasted until I moved to Atlanta to work for a big gay media company — the only suggestions to the tune of it's-ok-you're-gay-because-I'm-gay-and-successful were Greg Louganis, Michael Stipe, Elton John and Ellen.
I was either to become an Olympic diver, an eclectic musician or a lesbian.
Perhaps I grew up to be a mix of all three.
Theses folks were true-blue celebrities, and I figured if I became famous enough, being gay wouldn't matter because I'd already be so popular and talented.
Unrealistic dreams aside, the first life crushes I had on gay people of obtainable status came with MTV's reality show boom. Despite how far it's fallen to keep the attention of America's increasingly open-minded-cum-vacant teen audience, back then "The Real World" was truly a window to gay lives lived openly by "normal" people.
I couldn't believe Norm Korpi, the series' first openly gay cast member, was so openly gay. Then came Pedro Zamora, Dan Renzi, Justin Deabler and Danny Roberts before my interest in the series waned in favor of pursuing my own social life.
Back then, I never knew I could have wished for an openly gay, seemingly healthy, reality TV couple to admire. And I certainly wasn't expecting to find it on "Brad, Brad World" when I caught the episode last week.
It's easy for us big city folks to forget how far we've come, and how dreadfully far the rest of our state has to come on gay issues.
I'm not talking about gay marriage or workplace equality. Of course they're important, but I'm talking more about how easy it is to live our gay lives openly. After all, if marriage equality became legal with the snap of a finger, it'd be more difficult to celebrate that openly in say, Dublin, Ga., than here in Atlanta.
Yes, there are gay couples written into scripted series all the time. I'm not saying they're not worthy of admiration, but even though I know there's a lot of, um, fiction in reality TV, there's a more immediate connection to people we're told are real.
Brad and Gary's love seemed trite at first, but flashing back to my fairly embarrassing "Real World" obsession, I realized what an incredible inspiration the pair could be to the baby gays left in tiny towns all over the country.
How would things have been different if I had this life to look forward to?
These two gay men on the cusp of spending 10 years together, however you perceive them, should be celebrated as accidental role models for sheltered gay kids who have no one else to look up to.
Who were your first gay role models? To whom do you look for gay inspiration in your life now?
Top photo: Partners Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti share a fun moment on Bravo's 'It's a Brad, Brad World.' (publicity photo)
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