First Gay African-American Man To Come Out On National TV, Karamo Brown, Is Back On Reality TV
If you are a fan of reality television, the name Karamo Brown should bring back many memories. Karamo was one of the housemates on The Real World: Philadelphia back in 1992. He became the first African-American to come out on national television as a gay man. Shortly after the show ended, he found out that he was a father. Since his days on The Real World, Karamo has been raising his son as a single parent and building a career for himself. These days, his latest move is being a cast mate on the new TV One reality show, The Next 15.
Karamo Brown sat down with Parlé Mag to discuss the show, what we can expect from him now as well as his role as a single parent. Read up here…
Parlé Mag: You’re on The Next 15, how has it been? What are your thoughts about your fellow cast mates?
Karamo Brown: They are great group of people who were misunderstood on their original shows. This is very apparent because I watched all of their shows and I had preconceived notions about all of them. When I got here, those preconceived notions were all dispelled quickly, except for Tiffany “New York” Pollard. She is pretty much what you saw on television in real life. The crazy is real!
Parlé Mag: Obviously, they are totally different concepts but what are the major differences between The Real World: Philadelphia and Next 15?
Karamo Brown: There are so many differences. On The Real World, they put you in a house, and you are there for four months. There aren’t any producers talking to you about “hey you need to do this, or you need to meet up at this time,” you are just living your life. On this show, it is better in the sense, because I also work as a television host, how I get a call time, I show up, and they get me an update on what we are going to be talking about for the day. That was different for me because I’m just used to the living, but now we need to hit certain story points. It was kind of crazy to have producers saying “how do you feel about what happened between Claudia and Jennifer?” They would tell me you should bring it up. Naturally it wouldn’t come up in conversation, but then you need it for the stories, so it was weird to me.
Parlé Mag: Being the first African-American to come out on national television, do you feel like reality television has become a kind of voice to the LGBT community or do you think it has become a hindrance?
Karamo Brown: Oh no. The only hindrance I think there is with reality television is against African-American women. They are getting a raw deal right now. We are only seeing this one side of women, which is so inaccurate because Black women are so strong and beautiful. It seems we only see them all turnt up on reality television. As far as the gay community, we are still at a place where every image helps someone to feel recognized and be seen. I think any image whether it is a masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral image of a gay man is positive because we don’t get a lot of it.
Parlé Mag: What do we get to see on this show from you?
Karamo Brown: When I was on Real World, I was a 23-year-old little boy, and now you get to see me as a grown man. I am working in the entertainment industry as a television host, and I’m really excited for people to see. The outlets I work for such as Huffington Post and HLN, are not prominent in pop culture. People don’t see it unless they are watching for news and lifestyle. I am also a father. When I was on Real World, there was no kid, and then I found out several years later that I was a dad. You will see me being a single father. I don’t think anyone has ever seen a single, Black, gay father on television yet, so I’m pretty excited about that. You will see the struggles that we go through. You also get to see me about my business. On the show, we are creating a talk show, and I step up to the plate and make sure that we can take the talk show home with the help of another cast mate. I’m really happy for people just to see me in my grown man swag.
Parlé Mag: How does you son feel about having a father who is gay and is on television?
Karamo Brown: The funny thing is I’ve asked him this question before. And so have the producers of the show. When he looks at me, he sees none of the things you have mentioned. He sees a dad who gets on his goddamn nerves. He is an average teenager, so I am just dad. I know that he is proud of me because he said it. The fact that I live in my courage, I see that it gets him to be strong in his life. I think a lot of times like he doesn’t pay any attention to me on television. I know for a fact the other shows, not even the reality shows, he doesn’t watch them. I just hosted the NAACP Image Awards red carpet and also the backstage, and he was out skateboarding and came back home and was like “oh how was work?” There was no urge for him to watch me on television. I do know because he has a lot of gay classmates who always come up to him and say “oh my gosh, your dad is Karamo. He is the reason I came out. I’m so thankful.” I think that gives him pride in knowing that I’m making a mark in peoples lives.