Shannon Elkins: “I was concerned that [Sash] was gay and I was protecting my butthole”

In his exit interviews, Survivor Nicaragua cast member Shannon Elkins responds to his controversial exit in various ways: he blames editing, makes a funny joke, lies about not reading things about himself online, calls a journalist a liar, and says he regrets stereotyping. While Shannon offered a different version of Tribal Council that makes his question to Sash seem less egregious, and says he’s only guilty of stereotyping Sash, he erases any doubt that his comments are homophobic–they represent a literal fear of gay people–when he says he was worried Sash would have penetrated him involuntarily.

First, Shannon told Reality TV World that Tribal Council unfolded differently than we saw. Here’s what he said, in part:

So I knew I was going home, when I went in, I knew what was going on. So what I did was, I just tried to call everybody out. [...] Sash is coming at me, coming at me, coming at me, so finally I said, “Look dude, I lied to you. I lied to you when you lied to me.” He said “When did I lie to you?” And I said, “When you told me you weren’t gay.”

That’s how the whole gay thing got brought out, not by me just asking a guy if he’s gay. I don’t give a shit if Sash is gay! I don’t care what he does in his spare time. I’m not judging anybody, I’m not bashing anybody. You know, I’m no one to judge, I’m far from perfect.

All I was saying like was, “Look dude, I’m showing this: you can go with Chase who doesn’t even know what show he’s on and he’s lying to everybody or you can go with Sash, the guy who won’t even tell us who he really is as a person! He’s lying to y’all!”

[...] Tribal Council caught me in the heat of the moment. Here’s what I did — I was guilty and apologize to stereotyping. I am guilty of stereotyping. Hands down, I stereotyped the guy. Just like they probably stereotyped me — “Oh, he’s a hillbilly from Louisiana!” But I’m not sitting there crying about it. I just called him out as a person saying he was lying about who he freaking really is as a person, that’s all.

He elaborated on his stereotyping in an interview with Fancast, saying, “As far as the gay bashing, I didn’t bash any gays. I didn’t say, ‘I hate gays.’ I didn’t say, ‘Gays are stupid.’ I stereotype, my brother. It’s like the show ‘Waterboy,’ people think we [people in Louisiana] ride airboats to work, we have no teeth, and we wrestle alligators for a living. Well people from Louisiana think people from New York are either in the mob or gay. I stereotype like everybody else stereotypes.”

Just when Shannon starts to sound reasonable, Fancast asked him a question that he gave an awful response to. Asked if he thought Sash was in the mob, Shannon said, “No, I was concerned that he was gay and I was protecting my butthole.” (Fancast removed the final word but I confirmed what it was.)

That kind of attitude and literal fear of a gay person is the literal definition of homophobia, and using gay slurs would be more evidence of homophobia. As to that, pre-game, Shannon casually used a gay slur in his interview with E! News’ Drusilla Moorhouse, who wrote in her recap today, “I for one was not surprised by Shannon’s slurs. During our first conversation in Nicaragua, he casually said, ‘My boys can call me a fag [but] I know I’m straight.'” Asked about that by Fancast, Shannon said, “You must’ve lost your damn mind, I’ve never used that word.” In other words, he’s calling Moorhouse a liar.

Shannon also lied in an interview with HitFix, saying, “I haven’t even been on the Internet… I don’t know what’s going on out there, but yeah, I’m gonna get a bad rap.” Of course, we know that’s not true. In addition, he’s been posting on Survivor Sucks, and just yesterday Shannon actually left another comment on my Facebook page’s wall last night, responding to one of your comments, which he’s obviously been reading.

Shannon does have nice things to say. Jud/Fabio, for example, “is hilarious, he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. I know they show me bashing him in episode one, but I came back and apologized,” he told Fancast. As to Sash, Shannon said, “Sash loves everybody. He’s really soft spoken, a little sweetheart. Our relationship was nothing.” Doing word association, he uses “Narnia” for Sash, because “That’s how deep in the closet he is.” That’s a good joke, or at least it is until you realize who said it.

Ultimately, I think Shannon doesn’t recognize that his attitudes represent a pretty limited worldview. In the HitFix interview, he implies that he thinks being gay is a choice: “I didn’t really give a damn if he was gay. It’s his preference,” he said. Explaining his episode one comments about women, Shannon told Fancast, “And as far as the sexist comments, I’ve been married since I was 19, man. I’m not a sexist. All I said was, ‘And if you have a girlfriend and your girl is not happy, y’alls relationship is miserable!’ You know what I’m saying? That’s all I was saying! Women rule us in marriage and we’re about to have a woman president. I was just joking and clowning and making some funny crap up to say on TV.”

And Shannon told Reality TV World that he’s misunderstood: “Believe it or not, everybody thinks I’m this bad person [but] I’m really not. I do have heart. You caught me out there for six days with no food. I stunk and it tasted like I had bird shit in my mouth every morning when I woke up. I mean, you just don’t understand the heat that you go under and then somebody keeps pushing you, pushing you, pushing you to the limit. That’s what happened with me, so hopefully people will get that and understand reality TV, that’s 70-something hours that goes into 47 minutes or whatever it is.”

Exclusive: Shannon Elkins talks about ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ [Reality TV World]
‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview — Shannon Elkins [Fancast]
Survivor: Nicaragua Insider: Castaway Ousted by Tribe After Shocking Homophobic Rant [E! News]
Shannon Elkins talks ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ [HitFix]

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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.