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Pizza Party with Mike Manning of MTV's Real World: Washington D.C.
Real World castmember talks about his work with HRC, his bisexuality, coming out to his mother and the importance of PFLAG.
Video and Editing by Aram Vartian
Producer: Randy Shulman
LGBT youth from around the region gathered on Saturday, April 10, at the HRC Equality Forum in Washington, D.C., for a question-and-answer session with Mike Manning, the bisexual housemate of MTV's recent Real World: Washington D.C.
I think the best thing the show did was to connect me with HRC -- with the Human Rights Campaign, to bring me to Washington, DC, and to help me realize that I wanted to be a gay rights activist. That's overall, probably the best thing that the show's done for me. And it's also given me a platform -- and I know a lot of people say, you know, "reality TV, you have your 15 minutes of fame," and stuff. But, I mean, if it's 15 minutes, why not use that to go around and speak about diversity and inclusion, and gay rights?
I get flak from straight people. I get flak from the gay community for being bisexual, because they think that it's gay training wheels, or a gay transition phase, or something like that. And, like I mentioned in my speech, I don't understand that. Because, especially the gay community -- they know what it's like to be judged for your sexual orientation, and they're doing the same thing to me, essentially. They're saying, "Oh, well, let us tell you how you should identify. Let us tell you who you are. You can't decide for yourself."
Sexual orientation is about biology. It's about who you are sexually attracted to in your brain. And people tell me, "Oh, if you're dating a guy, you can't be bisexual." But sexual orientation doesn't describe a situation, doesn't describe who you're dating, or who you're with or who you're married to. It describes your sexual attraction to other people. I just don't think that the gay community, especially, has the right to tell me how I should identify.
With my mom, I helped her see the side of myself that I didn't show, and helped her see that I'm going to be just as successful, and just as happy. And together, we created new dreams, and a new vision for my future. If nothing else comes from an entire season of reality TV, at least I have that moment with my mother. That probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't forced into the public eye.
It's not just gay rights activists going out there picketing and stuff. It's actually working and counseling with families. Because, like I said before, if I didn't have the support of my parents, I wouldn't be as vocal, and adamant, and comfortable with myself.
So, to have an organization like PFLAG, that works directly with parents and families and making sure that an LGBT individual has that foundation and that support, is just so, so, so important. And so, I applaud everything that PFLAG does.
[Manning at microphone] And I identify as bisexual, so I take it from both ends. I have straight people saying that's wrong, and I have gay people saying -- [audience laughter].
This is Ashley, from the show, everybody. [applause] No, but, but she came here to support me today, and she's -- she's wonderful.
[Ashley, off camera] I can't support that line, though. [laughter]
Exactly. Um, so, yeah. I take it from both sides, um --. [audience giggles]
[Ashley] Stop saying it.
[Manning] Oh! I get it. [laughter]
Manning, in town for that nights Metro DC PFLAG Gala, spoke candidly about his experiences before and after the popular reality show thrust him into the limelight. He also addressed his bisexuality -- and the criticism he gets from both the straight and gay communities -- frankly.
"Sexual orientation is about biology," he told Metro Weekly. "It's about who you are sexually attracted to in your brain. People tell me, 'Oh, if you're dating a guy you can't be bisexual.' But sexual orientation doesn't describe a situation, doesn't describe who you're dating, or who you're with or who you're married to. It describes your sexual attraction to other people. I just don't think that the gay community, especially, has the right to tell me how I should identify."
Following the Q&A session, Manning and fellow Real World castmember Ashley Lindley shared pizza and conversation with fans.
The event, for LGBT youth aged 13 to 21, was co-sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, SMYAL (Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League), Metro DC PFLAG and the Youth Pride Alliance.