The Real World was the original reality show, debuting on MTV in 1992. And from the very first season in Los Angeles, there was a lesbian. Beth Anthony came into replace a housemate who left during filming, and she was instantly the first out lesbian on reality TV.
Now in its 26th season, The Real World has played host to several members of the LGBT community, including 10 women who are out lesbians or bisexual women. (This, of course, is not including the women of Road Rules or those who make out with women on camera but still consider themselves straight.) And on the new season in San Diego, premiering September 28, we’ll meet Sam McGuinn, a butch 21-year-old from Virginia.
So where are all those women now?
Aneesa Ferreira (Chicago)
Still active on the Challenges, Aneesa hasn’t strayed far from her time on The Real World. She is on Twitter.
Ruthie Alcaide (Hawaii)
Ruthie lives in Los Angeles and is a public speaker on topics such as alcoholism (which she dealt with on the show) and sexuality. She’s participated in a few of the Challenges and also starred in a movie called No Answer.
Brooke LaBarbera (Denver)
While she wasn’t out until after the show, Brooke has since been in a relationship with Lisa Rizzo from A Shot at Love 2, until they broke up in 2009. She recently graduated from NYU with a masters in social work and moved to Los Angeles.
Ayiiia Elizarraras (Cancun)
Though she was interested in men on the show, Ayiiia now identifies as a lesbian and has competed in The Challenge: Cutthroat. You can find her Tweeting away and living in California.
Coral Smith (Back to New York)
Coral didn’t come out until after she’d been on the show and at least one of the Challenges, as well as other reality shows like Battle of the Network Reality Stars and Camp Reality. In 2003, she was in the film The Wedding Video, a gay-themed movie that also starred several other Real Worlders. She lives in the Bay Area but frequently travels as a guide on Global Passenger Ships.
Beth Anthony (LA)
The first out lesbian on reality TV, Beth appeared on In the Life to discuss her experiences on The Real World in 2002. In 2008, she told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune that when she was on the show, she and her housemates were much more concerned about their outward image than the cast members of today seem to be. Beth used to sell cute crafts with her girlfriend, Amber, as featured in a past Advocate gift guide.
Genesis lives in L.A. where she heads up her own creative design business. Her company creates graphics, logos, websites and other print or digital materials. She works closely with her partner, Terri Keefer.
Sarah Rice (Brooklyn)
When she appeared on the show, she identified as a lesbian who was in a relationship with a man. (They have since broken up.) She recently competed on Rivals and creates art to sell on Etsy.
Emily Schromm (DC)
The newly certified personal trainer lives in Denver. She in on Twitter, where she frequently says how much she’d like to compete on an upcoming challenge. Take note, producers!
Shauvon Torres (Sydney)
The bisexual roomie ended up leaving the house to go home to her boyfriend, but has appeared on The Duel 2, The Ruins and Cutthroat. She is a model but doesn’t appear to maintain much of a public presence since her last TV appearance in 2010.
Eleven out women in 26 seasons isn’t too poor a showing, but when you consider how many straight, white women and men are involved on every season, we are definitely a minority on the show. Still, it’s been so great to see the ones who were out and proud on their respective seasons dating, relating to their roommates and educating others just by being who they are.
Despite how trashy some say the The Real World has become in its more recent years (focusing more on drinking, partying and hot tub sex parties), the show has played a huge role in advocating equality and diversity. We might never think it’s enough, but it has helped to make lesbians look like some of the sanest people on reality TV. (Well, except for one or two of them.)