J.P. Calderon: “I truly hate myself” but “I just want to start living as something that I am”

On last night’s episode of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Survivor Cook Islands cast member came out to Janice and the world when he agreed to be on the cover of Instinct magazine.

This wasn’t a surprise, considering that Instinct’s cover was released weeks ago; worse, Oxygen stupidly teased his coming out two weeks ago, but that scene didn’t fully air until last night, as only a few moments aired last week.

What was perfectly clear, however, was that J.P.’s coming out wasn’t a planned PR stunt, as he just waited to capitalize on the occasion. Instead, he seemed to be ambushed and cornered when Janice asked him if he wanted to appear on the cover of Instinct, which only hires out gay men as their models. As she talked, he rubbed his hands together nervously, and his eyes visibly watered; he clearly seemed conflicted about what he should do.

“You have to be gay to be on that, er…,” he said on last night’s episode, holding the magazine. Finally, he said, “I guess, if I do the cover, I’m gay, right?” After another long pause, he said, “I’ll do it.”

Almost crying, he told Janice, who was uncharacteristically sympathetic and kind, “I’ll do it, I just, I guess I just don’t want to give up a sense of my masculinity. … I don’t want to be stereotyped negatively. I like being a man, I like to be…”

In an interview, he told us, “A real big reason why it’s so hard to come out is you’re scared of losing the people that are so closed to you, your best friends, your close friends, and most importantly, your family. And I don’t want to be considered a disappointment.”

He also said, “I hate hating myself. And I truly hate myself, I truly don’t like who I am. Maybe this is my way of letting go and finding out who’s gonna to accept and me and finding out who’s not. … I’m in a daze right now. I’m happy, I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m apprehensive, and I’m not really sure what the hell I’m doing right now. I’m just tired of living this facade of something that I’m not, and I just want to start living as something that I am. I better go home and start telling people.”

At the photo shoot, he said, “I’m scared, I’m totally scared. And this is the one time in my life that I feel so vulnerable and I feel so self-conscious. I don’t even know if I’m good-looking anymore, I don’t even know if I’m confident anymore.”

He also refused some of the wardrobe suggestions, telling the magazine’s representatives, “I’m doing something kind of pivotal for myself, and I don’t want my first public thing to be, look at me I’m in a crop-top and I’m wearing gold chains.”

Janice showed up and said, “I just wanted to tell you how fucking proud I am of you. Coming out yesterday must be really hard, and then being on the cover of a national magazine the next day? … It’s really, really good.”

J.P. told her that he was still “second-guessing myself,” and she told him, “Live for yourself, not through other people’s eyes and the way you think you should be in their eyes, otherwise you would be a very unhappy old person. Trust me.” Besides being emotionally supportive, Janice also climbed into the pool and held his legs so he could float while taking the cover photo.

After it was done, he told us, “I’m learning, I’m beginning to learn how to say with confidence right now that, yeah, okay, I am a gay man. And I’m excited now, I’m excited to see what happens to me in life. I’m hoping that there’s more good than bad that comes through this, but either way, all I know is that at least I’m going to be happier with myself.”

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.