It is an especially rare occurrence when a reality television program makes me want to simultaneously cry my gay eyeballs out and lash out in such a violent way that my TV set might never recover — not even after a professional cleans out all of the grilled chicken breast and quinoa salad that I hurled at it in a fit of rage. Such an episode was this one of Vanderpump Roolz, where the show takes on homophobia, terrorism, and whether or not Lala’s rich boyfriend who bought her a Range Rover is actually a married rich person with a sexting problem.
Let’s get the argument over Ariana’s cocktail book out of the way before we get to the Orlando massacre and the West Hollywood Pride parade, shall we? (There is a sentence the English language was not invented to craft.) This was an entirely stupid argument and I think that Tom Sandoval was kind of a jerk for asking Ariana to get in on her book. Basically he’s mad that his girlfriend thought of this idea before he did, or at least took action on the book project before he did. He says that although bartending is just a job to Ariana, it is his “passion.” Well, if that is true then: (1) He seriously needs to upgrade his passions, and (2) Maybe he should have gotten his act together and thought about producing a cocktail book.
Instead of doing something, now Tom is trying to piggyback on all of the hard work that Ariana is doing and get a little bit of the fame for himself without having to put in nearly as much energy. The sad part is, when it comes to her cocktail photo shoot, he is right — he probably would have done it better. Ariana is so low-energy, she’s like the Energizer Bunny on a generic brand of batteries. She’s like Jeb Bush before his morning coffee.
However, Tom is still entirely demeaning her project by telling her that if he pulls down his pants in front of a female publishing agent, he can totally get the book published. (Personal note to Tom Sandoval: Although that strategy would work on me, most women would definitely react otherwise.) Then, after he drinks her cocktail, he’s like, “That’s okay, but I could have done better.” Yeah, Tom, you could have, but you didn’t. That is the difference. Now get out of the way and go chase your passions while eating passion-fruit yogurt and watching reruns of Passions and leave us alone.
It’s also ridiculous when Tom and Ariana get in a fight at lunch with Lala. This was supposed to be the lunch where they meet her married boyfriend that she is supposedly in so much love with and foots the bill whenever she flies private. But he does not turn up. Instead, she invites Tom and Ariana to fly with her to Florida to meet him for a football game. Now the best way to make a lie believable is to give it some detail so it doesn’t sound like just some vague idea. However, if it becomes too elaborate, it reverts to sounding completely made-up again. For those frequent visitors to the Real Housewives Institute, you will recognize this pattern of behavior from Brooks Ayers’s fake cancer scheme on The Real Housewives of Orange County. That is what is going on with Lala’s boyfriend. It used to seem like he could be real and she’s just being sneaky about it, but now it seems like she invented him out of whole cloth. Lala’s boyfriend is basically Brooks’s cancer.
This is especially true because of the fever pitch among the group that she introduce him and prove whether or not he is real and whether or not he is married and whether or not she sends him booby pictures that may or may not have led to his divorce. Just when this gets too heated to ignore, he supposedly dumps her. Why? Because he’s sick of hearing how mean everyone at SUR is to her. God, this is the biggest pile of shit I have ever seen and I’ve been to the Mumbai sewage treatment plant.
I’m not really mad at Lala about this, though. I’m mad at her for not showing up to her shift at SUR on L.A. Gay Homosexual Pride Day, which, this year, was also the morning after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were killed and 53 wounded by a crazed gunman. As soon as the news broke, Lala, Jax, Katie, and several others decided that they weren’t going in to work that day because someone might come in with a gun.
I hate to break it to this bunch of straight people, but no matter how bad they feel, every gay person in America felt even worse that day. I remember getting up and reading the news in bed and not even wanting to get up and face the day. But I did. Because I knew that I was going to be fine. As a gay man, I knew that you could be mowed down by insane acts of violence every time you leave the house. I knew that, after decades and decades of oppression, I wasn’t going to let one extremist with an assault rifle stop me from seeing my friends, celebrating life, and being a part of a wonderful and vibrant community — whether that meant going to brunch, running my very gay errands (I’m always out of lube!), or getting wasted at a mediocre gastropub in West Hollywood.
The SUR staff managed, somehow, to make this tragedy all about themselves. Well, at least Lala and Katie did. They were so worried that something was going to happen to them that they couldn’t even put on their stupid purple dresses and serve some stupid Pumptinis or whatever the hell they call them to gay people who were in mourning. These two are despicable cowards and I am absolutely disgusted by their behavior. It’s not like Lala was so afraid of terrorism that she shut herself in her room and cried. No, she blew off both work and Gay Pride to go to James Kennedy’s house to fight about whether or not her fake boyfriend actually exists.
Ariana is the first one to report in for duty. “What better way to say fuck you to all of the bigotry and bullshit than by coming out here?” she says. It is exactly the point that Lala and Katie didn’t get and that is gross. It took Ariana to convince Sandoval, who seemed genuinely if not histrionically moved by the tragedy, to come to work, and it took Brittany to convince Jax, but they eventually all saw the light and reported for duty.
Lisa Vanderpump was a great role model by deciding to get up on the big red bus and be a part of the Pride parade, trying to bring just a little bit of joy and reality-TV glitz to what was an incredibly awful day. It took courage to do what she did, even if it was just a small act of camaraderie and consolation, but a good deed nonetheless.
While Katie sat at home and cowered behind her disaster of a nose ring, Tom Schwartz showed up solo at SUR to express how much he loves the community in West Hollywood and the solidarity he shows with the gay community. He was there for some raucous times, but when he saw me, fresh from my bed and still in my pajamas, he ran right over to the hostess stand at SUR. “Brian,” he said. “What’s wrong?” And I told him. I told him about how sad I was that awful crimes against the gay community still happen. I was sad that these people who were gathering in a place where they felt safe were killed for no good reason. I told him how awful it made me feel that I still live in a country that hates and fears me, no matter how many civil rights and marriage victories may occur. I told him the worst thing was that it wasn’t even surprising that this would happen.
Tom didn’t know how to respond. There was nothing to say. He just held me close, in his big, firm, defined arms. The pressure they exerted around my neck and my ribs was the only solace I felt on that day, as if the slight crushing could somehow expel all the despair. He held me closer and it seemed like an eternity, like everything would be fine, like at some point I would stop crying on his shoulder, making the fabric of his T-shirt translucent with my tears. It seemed like I could go back to loving him and kissing him again. It seemed like one day, maybe only a month or two away, I would be able to drink a Pumptini without feeling like I wanted to throw up.