Toronto
3 min

(I’m a) Survivor

It’s been 20 seasons since homo-contestant Richard Hatch took the top prize using the now golden technique of forming an “alliance.” (At the time, my friends and I felt this tactic was unfair. Why we would think that, as big community-minded lefties, I’m not sure.)
 
On Sept 15, CBS will air the 21st season of the reality TV series Survivor. If you’re like me, you probably greeted this news with a mix of incredulousness and apathy. Like, “Wow. Huh. That show is still on?” 
 
This season will mark a new gimmick for the producers of Survivor, who have opted for age-based tribes: one made up of “young” contestants under the age of 30, and one comprising “old” contestants, over the age of 40. 
 
I’m taking this to mean that those of us who are in our 30s are either just right or too busy with our millions of jobs and responsibilities to take part. I, personally, am vying for the oldies, if only because, right now, almost all people under 30 on TV annoy the crap out of me. I blame Old Navy.
 
In the past, Survivor has divided its “outlasting” contestants into a variety of categories: heroes have vied against villains, different racial or “ethnic” categories have battled (an Asian guy won!), and contestants have more than once been divided along gender lines.  
 
I can’t help but think that, eventually, there will be a Survivor where contestants are set up in queer and non-queer teams. Of course, on the pink team, you’d get some sporty queers competing to defeat the stereotype of the feminine queen, plus some awesome feminine queens (who I hope would be deceptively sporty), butch types and hardcore femme types. When I close my eyes, I picture Glee meets NCIS meets Gilligan’s Island.
 
My theory about why this hasn’t happened yet has to do with the people at CBS not being able to figure out the right wording. You can just imagine the meeting with their gay employees:
 
“We’re thinking of going in the direction of Survivor: Straights vs Gays. Is that offensive to you?”
 
Maybe this could be the one where they decide to go Arctic. Bet you would get more lesbians, with lots of them already up there on marine adventure cruises.
 
Of course, the problem with this is, given mainstream TV’s record with diversity, gay Survivor would probably end up looking like every other Survivor. Which I suppose would be either annoyingly exclusionary or positively affirming, depending on your view of things.
 
If there ever was to be a homo Survivor, I would probably go down to the States and audition. I think I might be pretty good at this particular form of reality TV (and, to be clear, no other). I thought about my potential performance on Survivor while playing Capture the Flag recently as part of SummerWorks. My team totally kicked ass, thanks in part to the evil genius technique proposed by one Sasha Van Bon Bon. In our victory, I noticed a distinct craving for a crudely carved, culture-appropriating wooden idol.
 
I can’t help but think that it would bode well for me, in my quest for Survivor victory, that I think about survival-type stuff all the time. Like how I was the only person at my office to notice that the filing cabinets could double as bunkers if there was ever to be an attack. That kind of foresight could come in handy, especially as a means of outlasting.
 
In part, I think it would be fun just to play a role in what would be a particularly weird segment of queer history, which I am always on the lookout for. Plus, I love both competing and hanging with my homo brethren. I’d wager that starving in the bush with them and hanging off pink tree trunks in the jungle would be super fun. At the very least, I think it would be a lot like Pride, just more sand and less food.
 
“Mariko. The tribe has spoken.”