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EXCLUSIVE 'Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition' Contestant Talks About Coming Out

by Michael Maloney, posted Jun 14th 2011 6:00AM
Dana, 'Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition'Dana, last night's participant on 'Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,' did more than drop a few hundred pounds over the course of the last year -- he also came out as a gay man.

In an dramatic showdown with host Chris Powell, Dana revealed that he'd been eating as an emotional escape in order to avoid dealing with societal rejection that gay people often face.

Before coming out on national television, Dana first had to come out to his family. He did that a few days ago, prior to last night's episode airing.

Here, he shares exclusively with AOL TV what his family's surprising reaction was, and what he plans to do next in order to help others.

How did it go Friday night with your family?
To my surprise, my family already knew [I'm gay] ... which I kind of already knew they knew. Still, I needed to tell them. For most of them, it wasn't surprising at all.

Where did you meet with them?
We got together at my sister DeMita's house. I showed them my audition tape and told them what was going to air [about my coming out]. They really weren't surprised. It wasn't a shock to them. One sister said, "Oh, I already knew that."


How many of your seven siblings were there?
Five. Two live out West so I called them later. My father was there with us. My mom passed away 12 years ago. I told everyone that I'd told Daddy 30 years ago. I guess that's something you don't forget. [But] no one was surprised. It wasn't a surprise. I found out my [late] mother knew.

Who told you that?
My sister Viveca told me she knew. I was stunned, but your mother always knows. It was still surprising because I'd never told her myself.

How long did the meeting last?
About an hour. They weren't surprised. Everything is fine. Everyone still loves me. Nothing has changed.

There were times when you'd hold back from saying things about being gay in casual conversation, but now you don't have to, right?
Yes, like this phone call. My sister DeMita can hear this phone conversation going on. I don't have to hide anymore. It feels great.

Dana, before & afterHad you and your dad talked much about you being gay since you came out to him?
No. Not at all.

Will you now?
If I bring it up, we'll talk about it. I don't think it's something he'll bring up. He still loves me no matter what -- it's not a big deal -- but I'll talk about it more in the future. It's part of my life.

Which family member's reaction shocked you the most?
Finding out that my mother already knew from my sister.

Not all families are accepting. What would you say to someone who doesn't have as accepting a family as you do?
I'd advise people to confide in a close friend. I kept it all inside of me for over 30 years. I went to OA [Overeaters Anonymous] and got it out. I started from there. OA is the perfect place to go. Sometimes I'd go to meetings just to hear other people's problems. I'd advise people to go to join a support group.

'Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition' airs Mondays, 10PM ET on ABC.

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