Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Danny and Paul

Many of you may recognize Danny from his year on MTV's "The Real World: New Orleans." I remember watching a few episodes of TRW the season Danny was on. At the time I was deep in the closet, struggling with the conflict between my heart's desires and my childhood religious convictions. At the time I had been involved in ex-gay therapy for a few years. At the time I didn't know a single out gay person. I had heard all kinds of stereotypes about gay folks being promiscuous and addicted and diseased and miserable, but I had never met one.

Though a far cry from actually knowing a gay person, TRW gave me the opportunity to at least peer into a gay guy's life. It wasn't perfect. And of course it was overly glamorous and dramatic due to the MTV production. But I remember being totally engrossed in Danny's character. He wasn't miserable. He didn't seem to be promiscuous. In fact, he was quite loyal to his boyfriend, Paul, a closeted guy in the military at the time. I never saw the episode where Paul came to visit and his face was blurred the whole time, but I did see episodes where other TRW characters asked Danny questions about his relationship with Paul.

I remember the stories Danny told were fond and sweet. They weren't perfect by any means--their whole relationship was kept in the dark in Paul's life so that he could continue his job in the military. But they certainly weren't miserable or promiscuous or monsters trying to prey on young children and destroy the American familyTM.

Of course as a conflicted, closeted, Evangelical gay guy, I was completely afraid of being caught watching Danny on TRW. At the time, I happened to be a residence hall director director at my Evangelical Christian college in Texas. I remember I would use my keys to let myself into an unused room in a dorm that had a television. There I would sit nervously and watch TRW episode alone... and then tell no one about it.

Danny's not a "real" person in my life--I only knew him through a few episodes on a "reality TV" show. But even in that superficial setting, his story impacted me in a powerful way. His life challenged my assumptions, it provided a living example that what I was being taught from the Evangelical pulpits and the ex-gay ministries didn't apply to all gay people. In a small but significant way, Danny's life and his relationship with Paul challenged my convictions.

I just came across this video on YouTube: it's an interview with Danny and Paul several years after Danny's season on TRW had aired. Yup, they're still together. Together they tell a sweet story that really warms my heart.

I'm so glad Danny and Paul took the risk of putting their stories out there. Thanks, guys.


D.J. Free! said...

dude. danny nearly RUINED me! i remember being a summer RA, watching a RW marathon - at this point i was doing QUITE well in exodus. and then i saw danny, and i immediately fell into depression - not to mention some good LPM. and why? for precisely the reasons you mentioned: here was this really sweet, really healthy gay guy and i wanted that SO BAD. and yet, the message in my head rang over and over: "this is wrong; this is ungodly."

dude, it almost makes me cry to think that they're still together, and they survived that very difficult time. my heart melts as i look at the way danny looks at paul, and they way they touch. it's so sweet. they're totally in love, and that's AWESOME. doesnt get much better than that! :D

thanx for sharing, joe!!

Pomoprophet said...

Ahhh. I remember Danny too. I think all us exgays love him. lol. That was nice. How long ago was it filmed? Ryan and I just watched it. He likes it too. actually the word he used was "cute"...


TweetyJill said...

Now if only "C" would grow out his hair and join the military, you guys will be just like Danny and Paul. You already have the sappiness down. :-)

Joe, for someone who is always teasing about reading sappy romance novels, I feel like your blog supplies a regular dose of just that.

Unfortunately, I never saw that season of TRW. I have to see if it's on YouTube.

Pomo, I am with Ryan there, "cute, very."

Joe Moderate said...

Hee hee. D.J. said "LPM" ;-) Haven't heard that acronym in a million years!

And I'm totally with Ryan: these guys are ridiculously cute together. Warms me heart :-)

Tweety, if there existed a Harlequin line of gay romance novels, you can bet I'd read 'em. Only problem with gay fiction that I've found is it's almost all erotica :-/

Brandon said...

What a great story. Sad that he had to lose his job though. But great to hear love won out in the end.

Anonymous said...

Even on "Reality TV" people act. Great actors on that clip.