Keeping It Real
BY Dan Avery
December 15 2008 1:00 AM ET
J.D. Ordonez, 22,
from Miami Beach, Fla., is perhaps one of TheReal World’s most accomplished cast
members. He escaped an abusive family situation and put
himself through college, earning a degree in marine biology
and working as a dolphin trainer at Miami’s
Seaquarium at the tender age of 19. “Some
people think I’m arrogant,” he confesses in
the first episode, “but I think that’s
just because I’m a confident person.” As for
why he auditioned for the series, J.D. says he wanted
to be a role model to show young viewers of any
orientation they could achieve their dreams. (His
mantra: “You can be in dirt, but you don’t
have to be dirty.”)
early scenes, J.D.’s homosexuality appears to be a
nonissue: “I didn’t hide it,” he
said at a recent press meet-and-greet at the house,
“but I didn’t broadcast it either. It came up
in conversation and it was no big deal.” Of
course, volunteering at the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
& Transgender Community Center and joining his
housemates at straight clubs like Angels & Kings
didn’t give the single hottie much time for
dating. (He swears there’s “no
validity” to the Internet rumors he was hooking
up with a certain silver-haired cable news anchor.)
doesn’t exactly rock the Real World
boat, housemate Katelynn Cusanelli, the show's first trans
housemate, is bound to at least make a few waves.
Raised in a religious Italian family in West Palm
Beach, she began identifying as female in high school. This
July she had gender-reassignment surgery in Thailand, and
she entered the house just three weeks after leaving
still in stitches when I arrived,” says Katelynn, who
left a boyfriend back home to join the cast.
“But my doctor said I was doing really well and
that it was important for me to get around.”
But why thrust
herself into the spotlight after just completing her
transition to womanhood?
it’d be a stressful situation, but I realized I could
be a voice for the community,” she explains.
“There have been other trans women on reality
shows -- Isis from America’s Next Top
Model and LaVerne on [I Want to Work for]
Diddy. But they were competing for a prize;
their being trans was secondary. This was a way for America
to see someone like me just being myself.”
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