The Challenge: USA star Paulie Calafiore has come out as bisexual, saying it feels like a “huge weight has been lifted” from his shoulders.
The 34-year-old TV personality was booted off the reality show after losing a one-on-one challenge with rival competitor, Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, this week. During the show, Calafiore hinted that he had to “repress” who he was “sexually” because he wanted to be perceived as the “most alpha human in the world” in athletics.
Calafiore, who also appeared on Big Brother in the past, told GLAAD that it “felt like a huge weight has been lifted off of [his] shoulders” to share that he’s bisexual and sexually fluid with the world.
He explained that he needed to “break” through the toxic masculinity and pressure to be seen as a strong competitor and athlete before he could feel comfortable coming out.
“I almost felt guilty that it’s taken me this long,” he said.
“And I really had to change my perspective and be like, ‘Well, you know there might be other people that are going through this exact same thing … and maybe this is what they needed to hear and what they needed to see in order to do it themselves.’
“Maybe there’s a younger version of me somewhere who gets to see this and [says], ‘You know what? I don’t have to pretend to be this because I’m an athlete.’”
Calafiore said hopes to open up a dialogue around being bisexual at a time when bi-erasure is rife in public discourse.
“On one side of things, you have a lot of people that support me because they’re like, ‘Yeah, you’re a strong alpha male. You speak your mind. You don’t give a s**t. You do whatever’,” he continued.
“And then on the other side, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re toxic masculine, blah, blah, blah’, but, now all of a sudden, it’s like hold on, wait a second.
“I want to open up that conversation where it’s like how can we bring these two opposite ends of the spectrum here and have this conversation and say, ‘Listen y’all, we’re here. You can still have respect for people regardless of who they are, where they come from, what they’re doing. Let’s just stop with the constant fighting, hate and trying to outdo one another. We’re all on the same team, and we’re all trying to accomplish the same things.’
“So how can we get closer to than rather than further apart?’”
After coming out publicly, Calafiore said he had “so many emotions” that he hasn’t “even had a chance to process” in a heartfelt post on Instagram.
“My heart is bleeding with gratitude,” he wrote. “My soul is burning with humility.”
“I’m so sad I had an early exit but I am so happy that I was able [to] show you another layer to myself and my journey.
“To all the new friendships I’ve made, to all the old friendships repaired. I love all of you and I can’t wait to show you how much stronger I come back.
“The support is so beautiful … I finally feel seen and free.”