The Toughest Woman on Reality TV

Farm girl Sandy Gabriel shows the boys, and the rest of us, how to muscle through the most difficult and dangerous jobs in America with a little Texas flare. Gabriel burst out of the closet on NBC’s America’s Toughest Jobs, as her friends, family, and students back home learn of her sexuality through reality TV.

BY Kandice Day

October 31 2008 12:00 AM ET

My favorite
moment was when you were all sitting at the bar drinking and
you tell them you have a girlfriend. The look on their faces
was priceless.

Some of them were
like, “what?” But I said, “I’m
gay. I have a girlfriend and we’ve been
together for five years. She’s the love of my
life.” They couldn’t believe it. People
don’t recognize my girlfriend and I as equals
because we’re not married or we don’t have
kids. But this is my life, and we are married because
I don’t want to ever be with anyone else. It was
tough listening to everyone be proud of their families but
then not acknowledge you for having the same thing at
home.

How did your
girlfriend feel about being on the show and about you coming
out on national television?

She was all about
me being on TV and not her. When she got invited to
that one episode she was like “I didn’t agree
to be on TV.” She loved it, though. She was
proud that I branched out there and was honest. I think
she’s been waiting our whole relationship for me to
finally say, “This is my girlfriend and someone
who I’m completely proud of.” She was excited
and proud.

Why did you go
back to teaching when most contestants went on to
different careers when they returned home?

It’s still
my time to be here. I love the kids, and I really think this
is my calling. I am always trying to find a way to be a role
model. Like I said on the show, I just wanted the
money to pay-it-forward for people who helped me out.
In my life there have been several teachers and
coaches who have helped me out and turned me the right way.
Why not try teaching while being true to me and
working the job that I love? Now that I’m
honest with myself it makes this job so much better.  

Tags: television

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