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Danny's new real

Danny's new real


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.

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.'s a way for me to talk to them about issues they know nothing about--a way to open up their minds.

What's the strangest encounter you've had on this tour? Oh, I always have strange encounters. Some of the weirder things that happen are when I'm in more rural areas. Typically the gay ones will, as quietly as possible, say hello and then be on their way because they don't want anyone to know that they are gay.

But aren't there many who try to get you to go out with them afterward? There is that factor too. There are women who think that all I need is one good night with them. I tell them that I'm flattered but I think at this point I've got it figured out.

Are you doing other jobs aside from speaking? I worked in real estate for two years.

Did you have your picture on signs and stuff? Actually, that got a little strange. I had a little problem with people contacting me who weren't interested in buying homes.

You mean they wanted to date you? I don't know what they wanted. I'll just say there are a lot of lonely people in the world.

How long have you been a bachelor? About six months. Paul and I are better friends now. That's not to say that it wasn't ugly when we first broke up.

Is it difficult when he goes out with other people? We don't talk about that part. We have our own "don't ask, don't tell."

What are the benefits of being single so far? I don't think anyone truly wants to be single. We all would love to be with someone. But it is so nice to be on my own, to do what I want, and to find out who I want to be. I think most people--as singles--tend to think of it as a way to have fun and to sleep with whomever you want. For me, it's not about that at all. In fact, I'm not interested in dating right now.

Why not? I just don't have a lot of room for other people right now. Besides, Paul is still a huge part of my life, and I can't imagine dating someone else right now. I think it will be a few years before I'm ready.

Do you date casually? Not really.

How old were you when you met Paul? Twenty-two. [Before Paul] I never had the experience to really truly date.

So when you're finally ready, it will all be new to you. I'm a picky fool. I give people about 20 minutes and then I'm, like, "nah." The number 1 thing that happens in gay relationships is that people try to fill a void in their lives by putting a person there. I was so young and needy and insecure when I met Paul, and I needed to fill a void. Luckily, I have learned my lesson. I'm very happy with myself.

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