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Taylor Garrett of 'A-List: Dallas' on Ann Coulter, reality TV
TELEVISION: Extended for the online version of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2011-10-19

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Much like The Real Housewives or even CSI or Law & Order, Logo's The A-List now has its own franchise, thanks to the Southern-fried offshoot The A-List: Dallas.

Also like its predecessor, "Dallas" features a group of ( mostly ) gay friends who engage in all sorts of drama. Windy City Times recently talked with Taylor Garrett, 27, who is often at odds with the other cast members ( and, possibly with many gay people ) because he's a Republican.

Windy City Times: Taylor! Your voice makes me yearn for a glass of sweet tea.

Taylor Garrett: [ Laughs ] Well—as long as it's homemade and made with Splenda, I could make you a good glass of tea. I love making tea. I even like to put some chardonnay into it at the end of the evening; it might sound weird but it tastes so good.

WCT: Well, let's move on to the show. Being pretty private, I can't imagine being on a reality-TV show. What motivated you to be on one?

TG: Actually, I turned it down four different times. Then they called me one week into production and were like, "This is your last chance. We really like you. Here's another opportunity." I don't know what it was, but I said, "OK—I'll do it."

My main goal going in was to show young people that you don't have to be like all the other people in the gay community. I'm not saying their thinking's wrong but when I came out and got comfortable with myself, it seemed to be the line of thought that you couldn't be Christian or Republican if you're gay. There was that conflict within me because I know the God I grew up with loved me and made me this way.

I'm not trying to turn people into Christian Republicans. I'm just trying to show that you can be your own person.

WCT: You were described as "ultraconservative" in the press release. What makes you that way, because your stances on gay issues seem pretty liberal.

TG: I am [ liberal on gay issues ] ; I am gay and I deserve to be married.

Well, I could get into "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Conservatives should want gays in the military because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" took military members out once they were in. I think the training cost per soldier is about $36,000, so they lose money when they yank 'em out after training them; it's like a deficit, you see.

Also, where I am very conservative is that I'm very pro-life. I'm adopted; my birth mother, who I met in 2006, was 15 years old when she got pregnant with me. Her mom wanted her to abort me; my mom refused, so she had to go to Houston to live with her aunt while she was pregnant with me, and she gave me up for adoption. That really, really affected my world view and opinions on life issues. As my friend Michael Reagan—President Reagan's son, who's also adopted—said, "You walk into a room with all adopted people and you ask, 'Who would've chosen to be aborted instead of being here?' No hands are raised." That affects my pro-life views and affects my view of Christianity.

WCT: It's interesting how political affiliations can divide people. I know people who will not go near gay Republicans.

TG: I don't know if you've seen the news, but I was with Ann Coulter [ recently ] and that caused a shitstorm for me. The bloggers are attacking me. The whole point of meeting Ann Coulter was that you have two people with similar views and disagree [ about others ] can sit down, have a civil lunch and not bash each other. They should look at someone from the far right reaching out and saying, "I might not agree with your opinions, but you're a human being and I'll sit down and have lunch with you." It's been taken out of context.

WCT: Also, I understand something happened after you had lunch with her—to your own home.

TG: Yeah [ laughs ruefully ] , and that's been misconstrued all over the Internet as well. I came home and found that a rock had been thrown through my window. I called the Huffington Post and gave a very detailed question-and-answer interview. But it was very clear from the note that a gay person wrote it, and it just goes to show you how, in our community, we advocate for diversity but we can't accept diverse political opinions.

There is language on that note that a straight person would not write. [ Note: The note on the rock read, in part, "You are nothing but a nelly twink trying to get attention by calling yourself a republican. You are nothing but an embarrassment to the gay community." ]

WCT: What kind of feedback have you gotten about the show?

TG: Leading up to the show—and, especially, after the Ann Coulter story hit—was a new experience for me. There were literally a thousand comments out there; one of them said, "Too bad the gays don't use bullets instead of rocks." It was an alarming, crazy, eye-opening experience.

The day the show came out [ Oct. 10 ] , there were nothing but positive comments from gay people, like, "You're just like me. I think this way but I don't tell," and "It's great to see a Christian out there." Other people said, "I didn't know we had Bible apps on the iPad. I just downloaded them. Thank you so much." I got overwhelmingly positive responses from the first episode, and so they helped me get past the bad stuff that happened days before.

WCT: So how much attention do you pay to comments now? The critic for one outlet, Pegasus News, gave the show a particularly negative review, saying it revels in stereotypes and she didn't see you exhibit much Christian behavior.

TG: Yeah, I read that. I don't know how you can exhibit much more Christian behavior than praying and reading the Bible and doing your best; that's all God asks. Locally, there's been a lot of resentment—which I hear happens with other shows, like The Real Housewives.

The Dallas Voice was one of our biggest critics but the day before, they wrote a wonderful piece about how great the show was. The Pegasus piece was probably the only local piece that said anything bad [ after the debut ] .

For the people who say we don't represent the Dallas gay community, my response is, "I never said I was going to represent the Dallas gay community. I'm representing Taylor Garrett."

WCT: Which of the other cast members surprised you most during filming?

TG: Levi and Chase did. Also, I surprised myself because I didn't think mine and Ashley's relationship would develop the way it did. We were friends before we started [ shooting ] ; we're, like, best friends now. I'm best friends with her mom. Phillip are closer now although we were off and on during the show.

WCT: I saw the first episode, and there's quite a lot of drama. I'm not sure some people would want to hang around some of the other cast members for more than 15 minutes.

TG: In the second episode [ that aired Oct. 17 ] , I push Phillip in a pool and he comes out and throws me into a wall. I push him because he started talking about James and he was stirring up stuff and I had just had enough—so I decided to baptize him. [ Laughs ] I thought he was just going to push me into the pool, but he took it to a whole new level and came after me.

WCT: I know how much you love politics. When are you running for office?

TG: I know too many reality stars who have won [ elections ] but I was just talking with Phillip about 10 minutes ago about our plans for the future, and he asked me if I was going to run. I said that I'm interested in it, but I don't know. There's some notion that reality-TV stars are not taken seriously. If I ran for office, it'd probably be for city council and then for mayor; the city politics is very accepting of gays here, unless [ most of ] Texas.

WCT: What did you learn about yourself from this whole experience?

TG: I learned that I'm a strong person and, as my mom told us when we were growing up, you can do anything you put your mind to. I was really nervous coming into us—maybe that I wouldn't be happy with myself after I did it—but I'm so happy to have done it. Just receiving one person's response on Facebook—"You helped me realize that I can be a Christian and still be gay"—was enough for me. I learned that I have the strength to be more of a leader than I ever thought I did.

The A-List: Dallas airs Mondays on 9 p.m. CT on Logo.


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