In 2020, representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in all types of media has grown exponentially but in the early to mid 2010s, that was a different story. As a mirror to actual life, the rise of reality TV helped break barriers for visibility in the mainstream consciousness, especially as acting opportunities were not as widespread for members of the LGBTQ.
Before Pride Month draws to a close, while staying home is a stark contrast to the grand shebangs of years before, you can still celebrate your community by looking back and supporting these reality TV stars who helped push boundaries for representation in the past two decades:
Reality TV is almost synonymous with Andy Cohen. He launched his show, Watch What Happens Live, in 2009, which gives viewers a deeper inside look into what happens behind the scenes in some of today’s popular series. He also chats with other big stars about pop culture and celebrities in the news.
The host, executive producer, and Anderson Cooper’s BFF is also one of the brains behind the Real Housewives franchise and is often credited as the first openly gay host of an American late-night talk show.
As the first transgender contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Isis King broke barriers for trans representation and inclusivity in mainstream television. Following the appearance in the show, she still followed her modeling dreams and moved to LA which she documented on the short-lived, yet pioneering reality show Strut.
Executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, the 2016 show followed the personal and professional lives of King and four other trans models, as they tried to find success in the cutthroat world of fashion.
Goreski first burst into the reality TV scene as one of Rachel Zoe’s assistants featured on The Rachel Zoe Project in the late 2000s. His bubbly personality and clear talent eventually led him to pursue his solo career, eventually headlining his own reality show It’s a Brad Brad World several years later.
Now, Goreski boasts a client list including Demi Moore, Sarah Hyland, and Rashida Jones, among others, and is a mainstay host in the biggest red carpet events and roundups.
The Original Fab Five: Ted, Kyan, Thom, Carson and Jai
Back in 2003 a bunch of makeover geniuses broke into the scene. The breakout stars of the first run of Queer Eye, the Original Fab Five comprised of food and wine connoisseur Ted Allen, grooming guru Kyan Douglas, design doctor Thom Filicia, fashion savant Carson Kressley and culture vulture Jai Rodriguez. Each episode featured the Fab Five taking their usually heterosexual client to the next level with tips on grooming, fashion, interiors, dining and personality.
The show was unlike any other at the time, and was well-received by many across the world. Queer Eye has also presented further reality show opportunities for several members of the Fab Five: Allen served as a judge on two seasons of Top Chef, while Filicia and Kressley have begun transforming spaces in their new show Get a Room with Carson and Thom.
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