Danny's new real world

When we first fell for The Real World’s Danny Roberts, he was falling for his military boyfriend. Now they’ve parted, and Danny is single for the first time ever. How’s that going? Three guesses.

BY Jon Barrett

November 07 2006 12:00 AM ET

From the moment
Danny Roberts crashed into our consciousness in 2000 as
the “aw, shucks” gay guy on the New Orleans
season of The Real World, he’s had a
hubby at his hip. In fact, he’s had the same
boyfriend since he came out of the closet, which—as
might be expected in the age of reality TV—was
about two weeks before he moved into the Real
World
house.

What caught our
attention about this reality romance was that
Roberts’s boyfriend, Paul Dill, was an Army
captain at the time. And as the two of them got to
know each other—with only a camera crew and an
audience of millions as their chaperones—we
were reminded of one of the real-life lessons of being
gay today: The military’s policy of
“don’t ask, don’t tell”
can throw a real wrench into a relationship.

Roberts was out
to himself, his parents, and the whole world within a
matter of months. But Dill had to hide his face when he
appeared on screen and had to worry that he would be
fired—or worse—if anyone noticed Roberts
at his side.

The couple
persevered and was even featured on another MTV show, Out
in the Real World,
after Dill got out of the
military and came out of the closet in 2003.

But today
Roberts, who spends a good deal of his time speaking on
college campuses about the dangers of
“don’t ask, don’t tell,” says
the policy took too much of a toll on his and
Dill’s relationship. The men, who are still
friends, split up this year. Now 29 and single, Roberts sat
down with The Advocate to talk about his new
reality.

It’s been a while since we talked for your first
Advocate cover story. What have you been up to?
After the show I moved to North Carolina and lived with
Paul. He was still in the Army for the next two years.
Ironically, moving in together was the beginning of
our undoing.

Why?
We could not live our lives. We could not be a normal
couple. We lived in so much fear. We were forced to
live underground.

But then he got out of the military and you moved to
Seattle. Why didn’t it get better after that?

I think enough damage had already been done, and
Paul resented the fact that a lot of weird attention
came my way.

Was there a lot of jealousy?
I don’t think it was jealousy. I think it
was just being annoyed and fearful of what could
happen. He was afraid that the situation would get out
of control.

Let’s talk about your speaking career.
The number 1 reason the Real World
experience has been so good for me has been the public
speaking. It’s something that is offered to just
about every fool who’s been on any reality show. So
there’s nothing original about that part of it.
But I realized pretty quickly that there was a niche I
could fill. I could go to colleges and share my coming-out
experiences or talk with people about “don’t
ask, don’t tell.”

Do you speak to gay groups?
I speak to the entire school. Kids will come to hear me
speak about The Real World.
But…it’s a way for me to talk to them about
issues they know nothing about—a way to open up
their minds.

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