Richard Hatch: The Naked Truth
BY Brandon Voss
February 14 2011 12:25 PM ET
NeNe Leakes is already making headlines for her antagonistic behavior on the show. Are you a Real Housewives of Atlanta fan?
Oh, sure. NeNe’s a character. She’s just larger than life. When I meet famous people, very rarely are they who I think people might imagine them to be, but NeNe is. I’m drawn to her because she speaks her mind, and I don’t deal well with the whole superficial, hidden agenda thing. We actually got along well.
Were you starstruck by anyone?
Starstruck isn’t in my vocabulary — I’ve never really understood it — but I’m often impressed with goodness, kindness, and realness, and I did encounter that on this show. Some people were just wonderful to be around. And some weren’t. Irrationality is very difficult for me, so maybe you can make some speculation there.
Did you encounter homophobia from any of the contestants?
No. Other than with my legal battles and in the courts, I really haven’t encountered that in my life. Now I know what it is, but I certainly didn’t encounter it on Celebrity Apprentice.
Did you get the sense that Donald Trump is gay-friendly?
I had a great sense of that from before, encountering him a number of times in a number of situations. He even invited me to sit on the dais for his roast at the Friars’ Club, which I did. He’s a good guy. He loves women, so I don’t think he could relate to my being gay if his life depended on it, but I don’t think he cares.
Mr. Trump famously fired former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Khloe Kardashian because of a past DUI offense. Were you worried that Mr. Trump might judge you on your personal legal issues instead of the competition at hand?
Oh, absolutely. Obviously we’re not that close, so I’m certain that, as with most people, he only knows as much as he can know through the media. He has to be concerned about a person who’s been charged and convicted, though wrongfully so. I’m sure there was some tentativeness and wondering there, and that’s just what I encounter as a result of what’s happened.
That hardly seems fair.
It is fair because that’s life. You can’t know who somebody is until you spend time with them and process whatever data you have, valid or not. People don’t have an accurate understanding of who I am, and most of what the media has portrayed about my situation isn’t complete or accurate, but I’m used to it. I move forward, and hopefully someday people will understand.
As we’ve discussed, Survivor positioned you as a role model for the gay community. When the media’s focus turned toward your legal woes, did it feel like you had let the community down?
Absolutely. Well, I don’t know that I felt I had personally let them down, but I felt as if I was learning how undermined we as a community can be because of our second-class status in this culture and the pervasiveness of bigotry that I didn’t know was as powerful as it is. So, yeah, given the strong guy that I consider myself to be, I didn’t expect for anyone to abuse me the way I’ve been abused. It was a disappointment.