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Rising above a traumatic upbringing where she was the victim of sexual abuse, Sarah has dedicated herself to educating and advocating for sexually-abused men and women through art and creative therapy. Not content to merely quote their MTV-provided bios, Edge recently spoke with Sarah and J. about the show (and shamelessly cribbed interview text from somebody else’s article to get the skinny on Katelynn! She encourages others to search out and access "free counseling and therapy; local community centers do it. With the statute of limitations being different for every state when it comes to sexual abuse, a lot of times people who have similar experience to mine slip through the cracks."Sarah also speaks out in support of gay men who are experiencing emotional or sexual abuse from their romantic partners - noting that "the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community has the same emotional responses as a straight person would. "came out when I was young, like 13; and to my parents when I was 15/16." Neither a closet case nor a flamer, J. didn’t arrive in Red Hook feeling "a need to say hey I’m gay." But as is the case with a show based on full disclosure, the bags were barely unpacked before "The question came up ’hey, where is your girlfriend.’ It just happened, and everybody was cool with it."Soon enough, J. discovered that "Half the house was LGBT." That goes a long way towards contributing to the fact that he describes this installment as "a very cheerful, happy, gay season - the gayest season they’ve had so far." Although his own personal disclosure was a non-event, "It was more of a big deal for Katelynn.She has recently fallen in love with a guy she met on a set-up through her mother - until now, most of Sarah’s relationships have been with women."HONORABLE MENTION: Scott, 23, from Salem, New Hampshire, appears to be as straight as an arrow; but his "award-winning abs," which were once featured in Men’s Health magazine, will have gay men drooling. The most important thing to do is talk to someone." Her future plans include "starting my own nonprofit; something that involves art therapy. It’s awful no matter who you are, and it does happen a lot in gay relationships." Gay men suffer prejudice, she points out, from those who view their sexuality and sexual appetites with skepticism: "Often times, people think that if you have a gay couple and one says ’This guy raped me.’ it’s not often that people say ’That’s horrible let me help you. They think that sexual abuse doesn’t happen in gay relationships; that they want it all the time. I took her out of the house the first week into Manhattan where everything needed to be on her terms. I knew how she would feel if she was outed, I took her into Chelsea." Ah, Chelsea; is there nothing it can’t do?The majority of the house had stories of struggle to tell" whereas in other seasons, most in the house "just wanted to be actors.I felt I had a story to tell, that you can come from nothing and make something of yourself.By age 17, she began living as a woman." This past July, "Katelynn traveled to Thailand to undergo surgery to complete her transformation. At the time in my life when I was dating women, I needed an emotional connection and I couldn’t’ find that with guys. I was never opposed to the idea of dating men, I just never had that connection with them."Happily, Sarah’s bisexuality was not met with all-too-typical reactions of suspicion from straights and cynicism from gays: "I got a lot of support from the cast." That support extended to her past history of sexual abuse: "Those who asked me were very receptive and understanding and did a good job making you feel OK.After a string of bad relationships, she hopes to one day marry her current boyfriend, Mike."Sarah, 22, from San Francisco, California, "may look like another tattooed punk; but under her ink is a passionate woman with an intense past. By our count (sadly, not including Scott), that makes four LGBTQ cast members; a full half of the house - far more than the societal norm of one in ten. There were no judgments once I said that."Having "a support system around me to work through the things that happened to me and grow from those experiences" allowed her to "become a survivor rather than a victim." Now, Sarah has dedicated herself to providing support for others who’ve experienced sexual abuse.
The show is also notable for third season cast member Pedro Zamora, an AIDS activist who was among the first out, gay and HIV positive men to obtain a significant national profile.
"I was still in stitches when I arrived," Katelynn told the Advocate in an exclusive interview last month. She also left some emotional baggage back home - her boyfriend - in order to join the cast.
"But my doctor said I was doing really well and that it was important for me to get around."But why thrust herself into the spotlight after just completing her transition to womanhood?
The venerable cable channel has been blamed for everything from the corruption of teenagers to the wholesale destruction of western civilization. No longer onboard for shock value, novelty or conflict-baiting, the lavender-leaning members of this eight-person cast will (if the press materials aren't lying) do their part to keep it real and make life in their Red Hook warehouse digs particularly fabulous.
It was even, in its early years, accused of playing music videos. The "complex individuals from different cultural backgrounds" include "An Iraq war veteran, a former beauty queen, a hip hop dancing hippie, a punk rock Mormon, a dolphin trainer, a computer geek, an abs model and an advocate for victims of abuse" who come together on the outskirts of Manhattan to "pursue their goals and dreams while debating issues facing today’s society."But can you guess which ones are friends of Dorothy, which ones are simply friendly, and which ones might exit the house at series’ end without a friend in the world?With a name inspired by Emma Lazarus, the Jewish American poet whose words are inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the restaurant and training center was started by Kerry Brodie, a 27-year-old Jewish woman originally from Potomac, Maryland.