You may have heard a collective gasp across a certain corner of the queer internet on New Year’s weekend as one of reality TV’s greatest competitors revealed that she’s queer. But not only did Parvati Shallow, Survivor legend and winner of Survivor: Micronesia, come out. No, it’s how she came out that has everyone in a tizzy.
Because in a Dec. 30 Instagram post, Shallow revealed that she is dating non-binary Canadian comedian Mae Martin.
Reader, I gasped. This revelation comes in the wake of Bachelorette alum Gabby Windey revealing her own relationship with comedian and podcaster Robby Hoffman last year, and that now makes two—two!—beloved reality TV stars coming out by dating hot Canadian comedians in just the past six months or so.
Which is certainly a coincidence, but one I’m latching on to! And, frankly, it’s the energy I want going into 2024.
Let’s be real, we could all use some good news these days. This year is going to be hard and heavy and full of capital “B” Bad News. Between continued legislative attacks on trans people around the world and the looming U.S. presidential election, there’s a lot of scary stuff happening right now and on the horizon.
And by no means am I preaching full distraction—get out, get organized, call your elected officials, etc., etc. But there is something to be said for appreciating and embracing something good when the world around us is bad—even if that something good is as seemingly silly as reality TV stars dating comedians.
Both of these situations were delightful surprises to fans of all involved. Xtra’s Tara-Michelle Ziniuk broke down the momentous occasion of Windey’s coming out when it happened. And Parv has cultivated quite a queer fan base over the years, as evidenced by her turn on the Las Culturistas podcast. To see her come out—and by dating Martin of all people—well, the fan reaction online says it all.
Famous people come out all the time. But the significance of reality stars like Shallow and Windey coming out shouldn’t be understated. Reality TV presents itself as, well, reality. And for a lot of Middle America, these people become the source of close parasocial bonds. So to see that person you love who’s done Survivor so many times be queer and fun and in love is always going to be a net positive for fans of these shows, both queer and straight alike.
Plus, Shallow’s back on TV starting this week on the second season of Peacock’s excellent reality series The Traitors alongside other queer-loved reality stars including Drag Race alum Peppermint and two Real Housewives. And now knowing that she’s queer will certainly bring a new level of conniving chaotic bisexual energy to the whole thing.
So in 2024, amidst all of the heavy news we’re set to face, my wish is for more chaotic queer reality TV icon/comedian pairings. Get Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang to date a Big Brother alum. Let’s have one of the Love Is Blind girlies date a non-binary Brooklyn improver. Give me a Food Network host matched up with someone from the Second City.
With a scary year on the horizon in 2024, frankly we deserve this sort of joy.