Todd Herzog, winner of Survivor China: Interview

What was your coming out story? Have you been out for a long time?

I was so confused when it all happened. I had a best friend for, like, eight years and one night he kissed me and that's when I guess I realized that I was gay. We started dating, and he wrote me a note once that was like, 'Oh, Todd, I love you,' and all crap like that, and I left it on my kitchen table and my mom found it, which was just dumb on my part. But that's how I came out. I was 19 years old. From then, I just learned that you can choose one road... either go the super-cliché gay way and go clubbing and hook up with random people, or be true to yourself and who you are. And if you are the cliché where you want to go to the clubs, that's great, but that wasn't me. I wanted to break the mold and show people that it's OK to be who you are. And I think I did a pretty good job.

Some might say being a gay flight attendant is cliché.

Yeah, I'm not a cliché flight attendant. I'm not going to walk around, snap my fingers, and offer you peanuts. I'm the kind of boy who wears skinny jeans and Vans, and listens to rock music, as well as Spice Girls but hey, what can you do?

And we should point out that you aren't on the market right now.

Yeah, I'm dating someone right now, and he makes me really happy. He's a great guy with a big heart and he cares about me.

Now, you've only had the check for a few hours, even though it's like five feet long, but do you have any idea what you're going to do with the money?

I have a few ideas. I'm going to buy myself a car, pay off my credit card, go shopping a little bit, travel, invest and save.

There was a reference in the last episode where Denise was saying you'll be OK because you're going to L.A. to be successful. What was that about?

I honestly have no idea what she was talking about. I really don't. When she said that, I was surprised, too. I looked at Courtney and was like, 'What is she talking about? I live in Utah?!'

With the gay Mormon angle, everywhere someone has brought it up online, one of the immediate replies is that you can't be both. So, how do you make that work?

That's someone's opinion. I was raised Mormon. I have my morals and I have my values that I'm happy I was raised with. And I choose now what I do with my life. I don't go out and party like crazy. I don't look for a hook-up. I try and keep my morals to an extent that I'm proud of. And that's what being Mormon and being gay has done for me.

There's no conflict at all, really.

No, not really at all.

I'm sure you've seen that online, as well.

Mmm-hmm. If people want to judge me, they're the one sinning. You know? God says don't judge. So there you go...

So, when do you get to start traveling and enjoying your win?

I have no idea. I haven't slept since last night. I'm exhausted. I just can't wait to see what happens next.

How many interviews has this been today?

You are number 187.

Out of how many?

Out of 243. I only have one more tonight, then I finish the rest tomorrow.

Since in the grand scheme of things, you're recently out, do you have any advice for people who are struggling with their sexuality?

The main thing I have to say is be proud of who you are. It's going to be hard no matter what, because you will get negative attention from it. It's not easy, and it wasn't easy for me. But the people who truly do love you in your life will be there for you and continue to be. Believe in who you are and go for what you believe in. You can accomplish your goals. I did.

What was the reaction when Mom found the letter?

It was what you'd expect a parent to be, you know? They start questioning their parenting, thinking that it's their fault. That they're a horrible person. But she's so proud of me now. They were all in the audience last night. My whole family, wearing shirts that said Todd's Tribe, and they couldn't be happier.

And since you were fat growing up, was there some vindication reading people complain how skinny you were on the show?

Oh yeah, I got quite a bit of negative attention. People saying like, 'You judge fat people,' and this and that. And I was like, 'Are you kidding me? I would never judge people for being overweight, because I've been in that position before and it's not fun.

And how did you get skinny?

I got a gym pass and started watching what I ate.

Oh, that crazy method...

Honestly, I just started working as hard as I could.

It's not quite the secret most people make it out to be. Cool, well Todd, I'll let you go do number 188, and get some rest. Congratulations.

Thank you. It was great talking to you.


jenniferhomes's picture

He is such a great charming

He is such a great charming character.. It's good that they're seeing each other - understanding the insta-celebrity and how to navigate it is tough for a lot of people, maybe Todd can help Spencer make it through unscathed. Hate to see Super-Butch Twinkie get all his filling squished out.