AE: OK, I have to say you also kind of seemed to have a crush on Kyle.
KS: Oh, I do not.
AE: You didnâ€™t?
KS: No. [Laughs.]
AE: Are you sure?
KS: People really want me to have had a crush on Kyle, but Iâ€”you can ask her, you can ask me, there absolutely was no sexual tension between Kyle and I. I mean, the girl is beautiful and sheâ€™s amazing, but Kyle is and always has been a very good friend of mine since I met her.
KS: I know everyone wants that, but noâ€”I mean I would tell you, and she would be fine with it if I had had a crush on her. But no, I always looked at Kyle as a great friend and someone I wouldnâ€™t want to lose.
AE: How did you feel living in a house full of straight girls?
KS: Well, actually most of my friends at home are straight. My girlfriends [laughs]â€”my friends who are girlsâ€”my female friends are mostly straight, so it really wasnâ€™t that different from anything else. Their sexualities were not what made the house as stressful and crazy [as it was]; it was the nature of the competition, the nature of some of the girls, and being in such close quarters, being sequestered without seeing anyone else for a long period of time.
AE: How long were you there?
KS: Anywhere from 8 to 11 weeks I guess.
AE: In regard to the competition, I felt like you were often being given mixed messages about your appearance. For example, Tyra would tell you to express your masculinity, and then the Jays would kind of chastise you for not being feminine enough. Did you feel like you were being given mixed messages?
KS: Yeah, I definitely felt throughoutâ€”I think a lot of people did in a lot of waysâ€”that we were being given mixed messages. At one point theyâ€™re telling me to be myself, and then the next moment theyâ€™re saying I should be more feminine. And then theyâ€™re telling me that I should be looking in male magazines. â€¦ I didnâ€™t understand exactly what they wanted of me, so I just tried to do everything. It worked for a while, and then it stopped working.
AE: So your strategy was to just kind of try out everything?
KS: Yeah. I wanted to be versatile as well, and I was also sort of excited to get in touch with my feminine side a little bit more, so I wore some skirts and I dressed femininely some of the times. And then other times I definitely went back to my own personal sense of style and wore that. I think part of the problem was that given that I was so out about my sexuality, I think that a lot of people were very quick to merge my sexuality and gender, and that made them scrutinize my masculinity a whole lot more than they would otherwise.
AE: So how do you personally identify?
KS: In terms of?
KS: I donâ€™t really like placing myself in a category in terms of gender. I think genderâ€™s a spectrum just like sexuality, and I donâ€™t think that there are two genders or three or four. I think there are thousands, millions.
AE: I guess I meant more in terms of lesbian cultural notions of gender. Like would you identify as butch or genderqueer?
KS: The butch/femme definitionâ€”I mean in the same way, I just donâ€™t believe in categorizing myself, but I donâ€™t really love the term â€œbutch.â€ I think that for me, I like to categorize myself as sort of boyish, but definitely with a very feminine face, so Iâ€™m sort of a diverse look, I guess. â€¦ I just donâ€™t really like to place myself in any categories, you know, it changes every day.
AE: I also thought it was interesting that the two Jays are both gay, but they really didnâ€™t seem to understand these complexities of gender. They kept trying to put you in the girl checkbox.
KS: Even just now, thatâ€™s the problemâ€”I mean, people merge sexuality and gender, and theyâ€™re two different things. Jay Manuel for instance, I really would have no expectation as to whether heâ€™d understand my gender expression or not, regardless of the fact that heâ€™s gay, but Miss Jâ€”I was constantly surprised by Miss Jâ€™s misunderstanding and criticism of my gender expression. If anyone should understand a type of gender confusion, to me it seems like it should be him. And he was the most critical of my gender identity out of anyone that I was judged by. So, Miss J surprised me and disappointed me in that way.
AE: Did you ever talk to him about it?
KS: I tried to, once, but he shrugged me off. He was eating lunch.
AE: Well, maybe he was just concentrating on eating.
AE: You sound skeptical.