Exclusive Interview: VH1's Tool Academy Lesbians
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Gotcha. Well, Cheron, you know obviously you had some suspicions, or you wouldn’t have gone onto the show. Were you surprised when you saw some of her antics?
Wilson: Oh yeah. I had my suspicions, so I mentally had prepared myself. But nothing is like seeing it. You can try all you want, to think about the “what ifs,” and brace yourself, but…when I watched what she did, it just broke me, entirely.
What was it about your relationship—about Courtney—that made you stick it out and to go through the process?
Wilson: After I saw the videos and stuff, I was about to leave. Like after the first episode, I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to work it out. But I’m like, You know I try to…I already flew all the way to Cancun…and I don’t just want to give up. I want to give her a chance to try and work on it. Because I believe that people can change if they are willing to do it. So I wanted to see what she was willing to go through.
Were you glad that she decided to try and stick it out? Or were you surprised?
Wilson: Um, I was a little surprised she stayed, but you know, I think she generally loved me throughout the relationship, but I just didn’t know to what extent.
You two were the first gay couple to ever be on the series. Did you feel a lot of pressure to sort of represent?
Barcellos: Yeah, besides being told I’m a tool, which is its own happy little ending. To have to sit there and realize [that], Yeah, I’m representing not only women—cause I was only one of two [female] tools—I’m representing the whole gay community too. We get overshadowed, and these negative connotations are already put about us and here I’m not really helping the fact that if I can better myself, maybe I can put a better light on and show that yeah, I’m gay but I’m normal and my relationship has the same exact problems as yours does. It’s just with a female. I tried to help to use it as an eye-opener for more people.
Wilson: I did feel a lot of pressure, only because nobody knew that I was in a relationship with Courtney. My family didn’t know, my friends didn’t know. It was very secretive. Her family didn’t know she was gay. So it was hard to go on there and say, Yes we are in a gay relationship, and then on top of that, we’re also representing the gay community. Yeah, it was a lot of pressure.
Barcellos: There’s definitely huge concern because before the show I hadn’t come out to all my family. And I hadn’t come out to all my friends. I just go off of the assumption that people just know and I’ll just let them figure it out on their own…It was a huge battle in the back of my head constantly…So yeah, that was always in the back of my head. I come from a very conservative family.
Did it sort of force you to come out?
Barcellos: That was another trouble was, do I tell all of my family before the show airs? Do I let them find out by the show, like, Oh yeah, you didn’t know? The hardest one was after the show and I came out to my grandmother because my grandmother is the most important woman in my life. I did it after the show taped but before the show aired. Being able to do that was hard but the most rewarding thing because the show gave me the strength to do it.
Have you been getting recognized?
Barcellos: It is different to have all these people reaching out to me over every Internet source you possibly can. Or going down to West Hollywood. I’ve gone down there a few times with friends and I’ve had a lot of gay boys come up to me like, Can we take your picture? We love you!
Wilson: Yeah, I mean here and there people recognize me. But I think—a lot of the responses are negative, because there is so much drama in this season that a lot of people are like, There is no way that these people are like this. They have to be made up, you know? But for the most part I’m just hoping that people will just recognize that gay couples are just like regular couples.
Right. And part of the show is having these intense couples therapy sessions that really require you to be vulnerable on camera.
Wilson: Well, let me tell you. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. [Laughs] It was like boot camp. It was brutal. I mean not only are you putting your emotions out there for everybody to see, but you also have to listen to everybody else’s situation. I mean, we were in those chairs all day.
Barcellos: [Being] put under a magnifying glass—holy hell. That’s when my guard started to break down, because I’m not a crier, and anybody that watched the first episode saw me fight with myself, trying to fight the tears. I hate crying, and you got [the therapist] Trina giving you that dead-on look, like I dare you to lie. I’ll call your ass out of it, if you lie. I honestly thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was because when I think of reality TV, beforehand I thought of fake and scripts, and people prepared, but no—everything that came out of my mouth was honest, I wasn’t fed anything. It was intense. It opened up a whole different level of me that I’ve never decided to get in touch with.