Brad Virata of 'Survivor: Cook Islands' Interview

So do you wish you were portrayed as an openly gay person on the show?

I wish they put my coming out story on there just because it's a great story. Just the fact that I grew up Catholic and my dad was in the military, and I was questioning whether or not he would disown me and ... just that whole coming out story. And it is just a cool story, we got matching tattoos to signify that, you know what?, it doesn't matter. He told me he'll always love me no matter what. In fact, my dad is so proud, he 's part of P-FLAG, he's got the bumper stickers. He lives in this small town outside of Seattle, and it's just so amazing. He's 70 years old. He grew up in a different country and just for him to be so caring and just so open and loving and caring is a very cool coming out story. So, yeah, to answer your question, I wish CBS had shown that story. But on the same token, I don't have any regrets and the character they portrayed me as seemed to be pretty positive. I mean, everyone kind of knew that I was gay. In fact, that was one of the first questions I was asked during my initial CBS interviews just to be part of the game.

Because watching it... when the season first started, I didn't even know that I was going to be relaunching the site, so I wasn't checking to see who was gay this season or anything, but it was kind of a slow thing where it was, 'OK, he seems to get along really well with the girls. They keep putting up Fashion Director. Then the 'Nancy Boy' comment. So, it was kind of piecemeal. I'm sure a lot of people will be finding it out now, after the fact.

Well, I didn't pretend to be something else. And, like I said, the way they edited my character seemed to be in a positive light. I kept up in the challenges. I feel like I'm pretty articulate just in terms of speaking to people and understanding where they're coming from.

It also seems that, if you're going to get booted off that show, being booted off for saying something that's pretty truthful and honest... I mean, saying that once the tribes merge everyone's on their own... that's just a factual statement.

Yeah, I know. It's true. It's a total factual statement. But the fact that I said it, and the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve, kind of gets me in trouble sometimes. And not just on the island. From a personal standpoint, from a work standpoint, from an everything standpoint.

So, this wasn't new information to you?

No! No, no, no. Sometimes I'm gut-wrenchingly honest and I don't like to candy-coat things.

Well, you have a platform now... if CBS didn't give you one, I certainly will. What were the details of your coming out story? When did you start thinking you might be gay, and how did you first process those thoughts?

I knew when I was probably six or seven that I was different, just from watching Dukes of Hazzard, and not being attracted to Daisy.

So, were you a Bo or a Luke man?

I was a Bo character, you know? I was 'what's going on with that?' So, I knew I was different and I first came to terms with it in my early 20s. I dated the cheerleader. I dated the sorority girl. I was part of the Greek system in college. I tried to play that frat boy role for a while and, all the while, knowing in the back of my head that I was different. I don't know, it was a really good feeling.

And when did you finally say 'This isn't working' with the cheerleaders and everything else?

In terms of age, I was probably 22? And I'm 29 now. God, I'm turning 30 next week.

I know, next Thursday, I wanted to wish you a happy birthday before we hung up.

Well, thank you for that. Yeah, when I was 22, I moved out of my fraternity. I quit dating girls. I came out to my best friend, who is still my best friend to this day. In fact, he just got engaged. So, I just started coming to terms with it, experiencing being gay, going out to gay clubs, you know? Enjoying life.

And you grew up in Washington?

I grew up about an hour and twenty minutes north of Seattle, in a small town called Oak Harbor. Oak Harbor's on this island, so it's a very... it's on a freaking island, you're on an island dealing with this conservative, predominantly Catholic people. So knowing that, in the back of my mind, it was a bit difficult just not being part of, you know, a metropolitan city and having it thrown in your face. I didn't know any gay people. I didn't have any gay role models.

And your dad is in the Oak Harbor P-FLAG now?

My dad works with Seattle P-FLAG. He'll send me random articles in the mail about 'STDs on the rise among gays in L.A.' (laughs) You know? Or 'Syphilis outbreak in Los Angeles.' He'll always send me these cute little articles he'll read in, like People or the New York Times, and I just think it's fantastic. 'Gay adoption on the rise.'

It's at the line of "Thanks, but... " Your sexuality becomes your parent's hobby.

I know! It's kind of freaky, but we have open discussions about it. And he pokes fun of me, and I poke fun of him back.

And you said you and your father both got tattoos?

Yeah, we were vacationing together in the Philippines, and I basically came out to him walking along the beach. I was crying. I was wondering if he would totally disown me, what the next step was. And I was totally ready for that. But he embraced it and he was like, 'You're my son, I love you. It doesn't matter to me. You're still a human being.' And that's how it's been ever since.

And what's the tattoo?

It means Love in Chinese. It's just like Asian character. And Asian characters are sort of cliché tattoos, I know, but mine means something. It's got a lot of background to it, so that's the reason why I love it so much.

And where is it?

It's on my left bicep.

Oh? I should have seen it by now, I would guess. You're half-naked on the show all the time.

Yeah, I wasn't wearing much.

So your father is originally from the Philippines then?

Yeah.

Because I know you've got a whole Spanish, Hawaiian, Philippines thing going on...

Yeah, I'm just kind of a mutt, which is kind of cool. Everyone's sort of a mutt these days anyway. I think being part of different cultures is a great thing.

And you're one of five children?

Yeah, I'm the youngest of five. All my siblings are really supportive of the fact I'm gay. I think they enjoy the fact that I'm gay.

Well, they get the fashion advice...

Yeah, fashion advice. I picked out my sister's wedding dress. Not to play into stereotypes, but my mom waits for me to choose paneling or new drapes she's going to choose, or whatever color she wants to paint the house. She doesn't work, so all she does is garden and decorate. So, it's always 'Brad, what do you think of this?'

You're like a one man Queer Eye.

Exactly.

Comments

the mouse that roared's picture

Hey Jeff, This guy seems

Hey Jeff,

This guy seems really cool and everything, and I like the fact that we're getting articles and interviews on Oasis. Don't get me wrong; they're fun to read. But it would be nice to have more representative people if you're going to do interviews. Surprisingly, there are not just gay males on this site. Not even just lesbians. In fact, there are bisexuals, queers, transgenders, genderqueers, and some mixture thereof. Just think about it.

Thanks!

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless; there is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day

jeff's picture

The initial interviews...

Have all been done in this order for timing reasons.

Jim Fall, posted three days before his movie aired nationally.
Jeff Manabat, needed to go up in advance of the holidays to coincide with holiday CD contest.
Brad Virata, Survivor Finale is this weekend.

The initial hope was the site was launching in November, so I've just been pushing the interviews that have to go up first. A lot of the more celebrity-driven interviews always happen moreso around timing with books, CDs, DVD, movies, etc. than anything else, though. Harder to get people to do interviews when they aren't promoting something. Many of the interviews will coincide when people are hitting San Francisco on book tours, concerts, etc., as well, so that's also an element out of my control.

But what you are asking for is definitely not off my radar. The next interview will be female. And we have a diverse mix on the schedule. Hey, at least they haven't all been gay WHITE males. :-)

In the next couple of weeks, there will be reviews of Broadway shows that are more suitable to a youth audience, because I'm on the east coast right now and getting review tickets to shows (but steering toward shows with some angle for cheaper tickets (student rates, contests, lottery seats, rush prices, etc.) to sync it with our audience a bit. So, it will never be even, it's sort of what hits my radar, where I am, etc.

Of course, the best strategy... send me private messages such as: Why don't you interview (fill in author's name), and point me at their website, etc. There's a safe bet a lot of people aren't even on my radar yet. And, once I get the Oasis groove going better when I'm back home in January, there will also be more opportunities for ya'll to start reviewing books and other stuff.

There will be a page going up in the near future (once I get all the back interviews manually entered (it takes me about 2 hours to post a year's worth)) about what the criteria is to be interviewed in Oasis, as well.

It's early, lots of time to tweak things yet.

---
I'm a total myspace whore (and by whore, I mean I use it to sleep with people, I'm not on it often), so ADD ME AS A FRIEND

the mouse that roared's picture

OK

Sounds like you've put some thought into it. I have been reading stuff on afterellen, and it is good to hear some gay male stuff going on. Just as long as it doesn't stay that way. :)

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless; there is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day