At just 22-years-old, Danny Roberts of The Real World: New Orleans not only became an overnight celebrity but the face of LGBTQ activism. It was during a time when you could count on one hand the people who were out on television. For Roberts, the decision to go on The Real World back in 2000 was a way of coming out to himself.
“When I was cast to do the show, I really wasn’t even out yet. I was really not even out to myself. In fact, part of the reason I wanted to do it was [to have] a catalyst to force me to really own it and live it.”
Early in the season, Roberts’ LGBTQ icon status took on a life of its own as viewers became enamored by his relationship with his then-boyfriend Paul, a man who served in the military during Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a highly discriminatory policy that banned anyone who identified as LGBTQ from serving in the military. Service members were discharged if they were publicly out, and so became the blurred figure of Paul on national television and the anxiety that came with being a part of that groundbreaking story.
22-years-later Danny Roberts decided to reunite with his cast mates returning to New Orleans for The Real World: Homecoming, but he did it with hesitation. Not only did his first exposure on reality television feel like another life, but he developed C-PTSD. That said, he’s not alone in this diagnosis, especially within the LGBTQ community. Roberts explained, “I think so many people in the LGBT community especially have their own versions of CPTSD that they struggle with they’re not truly aware of what it actually.”
Roberts continued, “Many people in this in our country anyhow are able to live more openly and freely. Which gives the false sense that all as well.”
While The Real World: Homecoming did bring Paul back and showed his face for the first time, the more significant piece of Danny’s journey on the show was seeing him address his C-PTSD and how he was impacted as an LGBTQ youth.
“There were two people in the original cast who were very much rooted in their religious faith. Their belief systems were really glossed over as far as how it impacts the LGBT community…my main intention was to address that, and that’s what happened.”
Awards Radar sat down with Danny Roberts to discuss his time on The Real World, C-PTSD, and reuniting for Homecoming.
Watch the full conversation below: