When it comes to playing the game of Survivor, it pays to be gay — at least according to recently outed, er, ousted Marquesas contestant John Carroll. The 36-year-old Nebraska native — whose ruthless tactics reminded us of another egomaniacal non-hetero, original Survivor champ Richard Hatch — believes it's no small coincidence that some of the show's most memorable (and successful) participants have been men who love men.
"To be honest, my intention was not to lie, but I was in the closet for 21 years," he tells TV Guide Online. "When you are gay, you learn to have facades. So, I think manipulation is inherently a defense mechanism for many gay people."
Well, unlike Hatch, Carroll's Jekyll and Hyde routine did not sit well with the majority of his tribemates — leading to his ejection at the end of last Thursday's episode. Heading up the anti-John brigade was 26-year-old construction worker Rob Mariano, who, unbeknownst to Carroll, was verbally gay-bashing him behind his back. In one episode, Mariano referred to Carroll as a "big-time queer."
Although Mariano has since apologized, Carroll admits that the comments stung. "I told him he had no idea how hurtful it was to be sitting there with my friends and my family and my niece [watching that episode], and my niece crying and wondering why that Rob guy was saying those kinds of things about her uncle," he laments. "I just felt very emasculated by it."
Ultimately, the former Air Force medic believes that his Survivor stint helped further the gay cause. "To be honest... I did want to go on [the show] to defy stereotypes," he says. "I wanted to go on to show my home state that there are different types of gay people out there and they're not all this and not all that.
"I represented the more mainstream, kind of bland gay person," he adds. "Not overly flamboyant, but I can definitely be campy. I'm not straight — I am gay."