(All images in this post © Don Hanover, meaning he can sue you if you use them without his permission.)
Once it became clear that Robert Sepúlveda Jr.—Logo's Finding Prince Charming star—really was an escort in the past, a friend showed me these images from a shoot he did with the “very nice” guy in Florida 10 years ago, after Sepúlveda had flaked out on a previously scheduled shoot. He's only 33 now, in spite of his take-me-seriously salt-and-pepper hair (we won't even discuss his take me? seriously?? endowment—there ain't a thing wrong with him physically), so he was 23 when these images were taken, yet he said this week he was an escort only to get through college. Speaking to Noah Michelson of Huffington Post, he addressed the rumors of his past as a sex worker by saying:
I mean, the past is the past, y'know, I was young and it helped through college, um, but what I want people to focus on is who I am today—the entrepreneur, um, as an activist, um, I started a non-profit, and, y'know, um, focusing on the show. That's really what I want people to focus on.
This photo shoot is the one from which he used an image to advertise himself as a sex worker. He graduated college in 2004, so was clearly still escorting two years (or more) later.
That's not the major issue for me—because I'm all for sex work and all for sexy photo shoots and all for bar rags (this shoot was for Buzz Magazine)—but the show's thrust and Sepúlveda's reaction to the gossip is.
Following the gay bachelor's brusque, clearly embarrassed brush-off of the escorting issue, Michelson bizarrely tried to spin it as an example of how the very aggressively heteronormative show isn't that heteronormative. Had Sepúlveda been upfront about this aspect of his life (he has also, via lawyers, sent cease-and-desist letters to blogs that posted X-rated selfies), it could've been an interesting twist on the show. Instead, it appears very likely that he was attempting to hide his sex work in order to appear on a show that undoubtedly would have rejected him over it. The show is set up identically to The Bachelor—you simply do not get more heteronormative than that.
Also a takeaway from Sepúlveda's interview—he has zero sense of levity about himself. Lance Bass, you will recall, came out of the closet by asserting he is one of the “normal” “straight-acting gays.” Poor word choice I'm sure he regrets, but further evidence that the show is going for a very mainstream version of gay. Nothing wrong with that, but when your star was an escort for years, I think it comes off as being phony and being very snooty about sex work while profiting off of a secret veteran of the stuff. Sepúlveda should have followed Lance's lead; 10 years after Lance came out, Lance is now much more adept at playing things off and showing a sense of humor about himself. Having humor makes these issues less abrasive.
If only he'd been honest, and if only he were not so clearly icked out by his past (a past shared by so many LGBTQ people!) and by it coming to light, and if only he weren't so adamant about his non-profit (that no longer exists), then we could focus on condemning the gay men who are trashing him as a slut instead of condemning them while simultaneously having to roll our eyes at Sepúlveda's slipperiness and pretension.
Mr. Sepúlveda, the only thing you have to be ashamed of is shame itself.