Tyra Banks’ longrunning reality television modeling competition "America’s Next Top Model" has always featured a diverse selection of participants. Over the last two years, the program has shifted from all female competitors to a mix of men and women. With men in the house, the competition has been more interesting, but in a recent episode, comments by one of the male contestants has sparked controversy.
A clip from the episode reveals that contestant and former football player Denzel Wells made a potentially homophobic comment about competitor Will Jardell.
When asked by Tyra why he wore high heels to the elimination ceremony, Jardell said, “There was a comment said at the house that someone would have to go home and explain that a man in heels beat them in the competition, so I decided to wear heels today.”
Wells immediately responded saying that he was not homophobic and that he didn’t “want Will to think I’m bashing him for being gay or that I’m ashamed of him.”
Tyra, who clearly wasn’t taking any excuses, fired back at him.
“Yes, you are … you care because you said it,” responded Tyra. “This is an industry that is predominately female. So when you step into an industry that is predominately a certain sex, you get the stereotype that you are gay. Be proud of this industry, and every single male model — gay, straight, heels, corsets, who gives a f*ck? I want to take you back 50 years and imagine you overheard Will say, ‘I hope that Denzel guy doesn’t win. Because if that black guy wins, my friends at home are going to say I’m his bitch.'”
Following the show’s airing, Wells told The Advocate that he felt his comments were taken out of context.
“I’ve always seen Will as Will, not ‘gay Will,’” said Wells. “I was just making an observation of what he wore and how that would play into him booking jobs. I’ve never felt that he is less than me because he wears heels or is openly gay.
"I also said that I didn't want to lose to some of my other male roommates and highlighted qualities about them which I felt would be a challenge for them getting booked for a big job. It was my way of sharing why I deserve to win this competition. But the entire situation was taken out of context. I believe everyone should be treated equally and with respect regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or race.”
Take a look at Tyra go off on Wells in the clip below.