Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Biggest Loser's First Openly Gay Contestant

After the controversial last season of  "The Biggest Loser," viewers complained that they wanted to see more positive contestants and less drama. Hard to say whether that will happen or not. But we do know that Jillian Michaels is back as a trainer, and that three adolescents (who can't be eliminated) will lose weight along with the adult contestants.

And, according to NBC, a Utah man is the first openly gay contestant on the show. 

According to the NBC press bio, Jackson Carter of Layton, Utah is a volunteer coordinator for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth outreach center known as OUTreach.  He's also a movie theater assistant manager and a student at Weber State University. 
Carter's primary motivation for going on “The Biggest Loser” is the kids he mentors at the youth outreach center.
“I want to be a role model for those kids so that they grow up to lead successful, healthy lives,” said Carter.
He was born in Roosevelt, Utah, a small town on a Ute Indian reservation, and raised there with his two younger siblings before moving at age seven to Layton. 
Except for a brief period in high school when he was very fit, he has always been overweight. He said he experienced bullying both for his weight and his sexuality after coming out at age 14.
Now 21 years old and 328 pounds, Jackson is majoring in theater education with a minor in social work.  With work, school and mentoring, he has little time to plan nutritious meals or follow an exercise routine, and the convenience of fast food and his tendency to eat when stressed haven’t helped.
Once he loses weight, Jackson looks forward to participating in physical activities with his OUTreach kids,  being able to go to the beach and take his shirt off, and changing the lives of those around him who are also struggling with their weight.
Of course, the show is about losing weight, so sexual preferences shouldn't be a huge focus anyway.  But the trainers often delve into the contestants' emotional issues —  especially Jillian, who screams and swears one minute and then hugs and psychoanalyzes the next.  I suspect that somewhere along the line, the bullying Carter experienced as a teen may be discussed as a contributing factor to his weight gain.  

During Season 13, many viewers complained that contestant Conda Britt was a bully, and that the treatment of Adrian and Daphne Dortsch had some racial undertones. But the Dortsches didn't help matters with Adrian's loud personality and Daphne's chip on her shoulder. 

I hope this next group of competitors are able to avoid that type of drama and keep the competition fair, friendly and fun to watch.


Johanna said...

If the same drama and manipulations occurs, the show is history; and not just for me, but for the entire audience.

I think people have had their stomach full of the ugliness taking over the inspiration.

Valerie Phillips said...

Johanna, I think a lot of viewers share your sentiments about last season. I can't totally blame the contestants. I think the producers wanted to add more drama, so they added more twists and edited the segments to show more controversy. But it really backfired big-time! It became painful to watch because the remaining contestants were so unlikeable that there was no one left to cheer for.