2 min

TV producers outed him

Survivor lite show features homo seeking treasure

WATER WARS. Ryan Massel was one of 18 contestants competing for $60,000 on a Canadian reality show. Credit: Taste Television

No reality show is complete without a queer. The original Survivor had winner Richard Hatch. Big Brother 2 had Bunky. And the Canadian Outdoor Life Network show, Drifters: The Water Wars, has Ryan Massel.

The difference is that Hatch and Bunky announced their sexuality early on. Massel, 23, was more reluctant. He’s not in the closet, but being gay isn’t something he’s usually willing to broadcast.

OLN is going to do that for him. On the Sun, Oct 28 episode, his sexuality is the main topic of conversation on The Drifters. (The show – where 18 people live on houseboats on the Trent Severn Waterway and search for “hidden treasure” of $60,000 – resembles a Survivor Lite.)

Massel says he was surprised the subject was raised at all. He knew his teammates were aware, but didn’t feel that his being gay was relevant to the show. The producers felt otherwise.

“It was kind of a trickery, back-stabbing thing,” says Massel. The producers went to the other contestants and without asking him, told them Massel was okay with discussing his sexuality on the show. Then they filmed the other participants talking about how they felt about it. Massel won’t find out their reactions until the show airs.

He says it wasn’t his choice to be outed, but he does understand – to a certain degree.

“It’s how they run the production, and that’s fine. You have to look at it like, This makes good TV.” But he’s still a little bitter about how they did it.

His audition video was chosen out of more than 300. Parts of it are featured on the website,

Massel believes he was chosen partly because he’s gay. It wasn’t explicitly stated in his application, but the facts speak for themselves. He’s 23 and single. He works at the Gap. He’s prone to dramatic gestures. If he were featured in YM magazine, they’d describe him as a hottie.

Although someone from Toronto coming out publicly would likely cause more yawns than waves, it’s different in his hometown of Regina, where Massel is now something of a celebrity. There’s a lot of local publicity and there have been several articles in the Regina paper.

“I have to say that I’m worried things might change for me in a negative way when the show airs,” says Massel.

Massel came out his mother in early October, and he plans to watch the outing episode with her. His brother will also find out that day.

The show runs until the end of December, but Massel is hoping to prolong his 15 minutes of fame.

“Now I want my own show,” he says. With his looks and energy, it doesn’t seem that unlikely. But one big obstacle might be the fact that he doesn’t plan on leaving Regina any time soon.

“I love Regina,” he says. “It’s my home.”