The sixth installment of the CBS reality show Big Brother premiered last week, and among the 14 contestants living in a house together vying for a cash prize is Ivette Corredero, a 25-year-old openly gay Latina teacher-turned waitress with a live-in girlfriend and a plan to infiltrate the "house of [heterosexual] hotties."
Big Brother is a sort-of Real World-meets-Survivor series that was originally developed in the Netherlands in 1999, and has since been successfully adapted for prime time TV in several countries. In the U.S. version, the format is as follows: a group of people live together in a house for 12 weeks, and each week vote among two nominees to evict one of the housemates, with several mini-challenges and rewards along the way. The last person standing wins a large amount of money.
A 5' 6" Catholic woman of Dominican and Cuban descent, Ivette is the first Cuban-American woman and the first openly lesbian contestant on Big Brother. In real life, Ivette is open about her sexual orientation, but in her pre-game interview with former Big Brother contestant Marcellas Reynolds on the show's official website, Ivette says her strategy is to lay low in the beginning of the game–which includes not coming out to the other contestants right away.
Disclosing that she's gay might make her more of a threat, she says, and "guys will spend their whole time trying to [convert me], or they might hate me and kick me off. And the girls [may] hate me because they swear I'm not really a lesbian." To which she adds with a laugh, "it's been 10 years–it's not a fake thing, and it's not a phase."
Eight days into the contest, Ivette has still not yet widely disclosed her sexual orientation to the other contestants. "I can be discreet because I'm more lipstick," she explains to Marcellas. "If I was butch you could tell right off the bat, right?…Not me, I can play it off a little more."
She may describe herself as "lipstick," but don't put the word "lesbian" at the end of that sentence. "I just say 'I like girls," she tells Marcellas. "I don't say 'I'm a lesbian.' Such a vulgar word. I'd rather someone say 'she's gay.'"
Ivette isn't overly fond of being labeled by her sexuality at all. "It's kind of ridiculous of us to think that in a perfect world, we're not going to be labeled, and we're not going to have to introduce ourselves like that," she says, "but nobody walks around saying 'Hi I'm Ivette and I'm straight' so I don't feel like I should have to say 'Hi, I'm Ivette and I'm a lesbian.'"