Girl Talk: Gabbing with The Biggest Loser’s Jackson Carter

I ask the openly gay contestant about his weight-loss struggles and what it's like working with ball-buster Jillian Michaels.

If you’ve been watching the current season of The Biggest Loser, you’re probably a little in love with Jackson Carter. The adorable 21-year-old from Utah is the reality show’s first openly gay contestant, and a regular wellspring of good-old-fashioned positivity. That personality radiated through the phone when he called this week to chat. When I was able to talk through the cheesy grin he kept plastered on my face, I asked him about what it’s like being gay on the show, his thoughts on Jeff betraying Michael, and what it feels like to be “ground into powder and blown into the wind” by ball-buster Jillian Michaels.

G Philly: It’s hard to believe there hasn’t been an openly gay contestant in 14 seasons of The Biggest Loser. Was it a tough decision to decide to be the first?
Jackson Carter: I’ve always been very open about my sexuality … I don’t really consider it an issue. My sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with my ability to workout or to do a weigh-in. I’m very happy that I was out on the show, and I’m happy the [The Biggest Loser] is portraying my story the way they are, because I am out and I’m very happy to be a gay man, and that shows.

GP: What are some of the obstacles you faced being gay and overweight? Did you find the LGBTQ community was supportive?
JC: Being overweight and gay is very difficult. It feels like there’s a uniform you have to fit into: You have to have washboard abs and wear the tight clothes, and I didn’t have any of that. I felt very uncomfortable going out to the clubs and meeting guys, because I wasn’t comfortable with myself. A lot of times people wouldn’t even give me a second glance, because everyone is expected to fit that image. It was definitely rough and there weren’t a lot of places where I felt romantically accepted.

GP: Back home you work for an OUTReach Center for LGBT youth, and this season there are three young contestants participating on the show. Have you had an opportunity to work with them and give them advice as a youth leader?
JC: I had a blast working with the kids on the show. We got to do some workouts together anytime they were at the ranch. They’re a really good group of kids. Lindsey has a long past of being bullied in school and so do I, so we really connected over that.

GP: What’s your favorite thing about being on The Biggest Loser?
JC: Learning how to like to workout. [Show trainer Dolvett Quince] is always saying, “If you don’t’ love working out, you’re not going to do it. He made sure we got a variety of things we really enjoyed doing, and now I look forward to it at the gym. And that’s not something I ever looked forward to before the show.

GP: And what’s the worst thing?
JC: Crying on camera pretty much every episode. (Big laugh.) You’d go through a really upsetting elimination or something like that … or you’d bend over a puke bucket and look up there’s a camera right in your face.

GP: What’s it like working with Jillian Michaels? Were you just a little worried when you found out she was coming back this season?
JC: I’ve watched the show since I was a young kid. Jillian Michaels has always been someone I’ve looked up to, so I was excited to start working with her. Jill can be very, very, VERY intense. She can break you down until you’re just absolutely nothing anymore. She’ll grind you down into a powder and then blow you out into the wind. But she’s also so passionate and cares so much about the contestants — And she gets results. There’s a reason her name is a fitness brand. She knows what she’s doing. You just have to put everything in your mind aside and give into her process, because once you do she gets you the results you want.

GP: Now I want to ask you a few questions our Facebook followers had for you. Randy asked if you find it difficult to keep up with your workout and diet regime while you were on the Ranch?
JC: Even though we have the nicest food provided to us, we still have to cook our own meals and do everything ourselves, and it’s still easy to overindulge in healthier options. On the ranch it still is very difficult to learn how to make the right decisions. For so long, I’ve never had to think about the things I was eating; I just ate them willy-nilly. (Editor’s aside: How cute is it that he said “willy-nilly”). That’s definitely been one of the hardest parts about the show, just getting your body out of those old habits and training it to eat what your supposed to eat.

GP: Janine wants to know if you realize you’re “the most relentlessly positive reality show contestant ever?”
JC: (Big laugh) You know, that’s so funny, because Jeff [Nichols] used to tell me that I’m obnoxiously optimistic, which is good, because he’s obnoxiously pessimistic, so we balanced each other out. You know, you can sit around and think about all the bad things — the throwing up, the passing out, the blisters, the being sore on every part of your body — or you can choose to focus on the good stuff. That’s what I chose to do. I chose to be excited to get my ass handed to me by the trainer every day. I’m excited because I have an amazing opportunity in front of me and I don’t want to waste a second of it.

GP: I imagine it’s hard to be positive all the time, especially when there’s backstabbing. For instance, what was your reaction this week when Jeff [Nichols] voted out Michael [Dorsey] after he promised he wouldn’t do it?
JC: There’s a lot that went into his decision. Jeff and Francelina [Morillo] are very close and that’s not something the cameras have always shown. I’m Francelina’s roommate and I can tell you firsthand that Jeff is basically the third roommate. He is constantly in there. On top of that, Jeff knew there was no way Francelina was going to be eliminated — she had too many friends in the house. So it would have been detrimental to his game to eliminate her … he would have made enemies in the house for voting against her. There was a lot more to it than what was shown on the show. Mike and Jeff are very good friends, but at the end of a day it’s a game, and tough decisions have to be made. It wasn’t easy for him to vote, but it’s never easy to vote for somebody.

GP: Each episode ends with a big weigh-in, but I think that’s plain rude. So I’ll end this by asking you to weigh in on something many gay boys across the nation are wondering … Are you single?
JC: (Giggles) You know, I am currently on the market. I do not have a boyfriend, but I’m not throwing one off, either!


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