ESPN's out Player: Julian Bryce Invades Cable's Butchest Network on the Reality Game Show Beg, Borrow & Deal. (Television)

Article excerpt

As the stereotype goes, queer men aren't supposed to play or follow competitive sports. Openly gay entertainment reporter Julian Bryce hopes to break this image as a competitor in ESPN's first reality-based game show, Beg, Borrow & Deal, premiering September 17. Still, he's the first to admit he might seem to fit the stereotype to a tee.

"I already don't know sports," Bryce says. "[The producers] knew I was the gay cast member, but I wanted to represent. Still, I'm sure people are going to say, `He's the one who has to throw the basketball granny-style. He's the one who doesn't know anything about sports.'" Having seen his share of reality shows, Bryce, 28, remains keenly aware of the camera. "I'm always afraid of coming off as the stereotypical flaming queen," he explains.

While Bryce notes his sexuality almost never came up during the show's production, it may have helped beforehand. "During the selection process, I was asked several times about [my sexuality] and how that would possibly play into the game," he says. "All 16 semifinalists figured it made me a shoo-in for the game, since I'm the only black out of the 16 and I'm the only gay out of the 16. I didn't feel that way at all. I'm looking at the other seven guys. They're big, masculine men, know everything about sports, play sports, are athletic--and I'm not."

In the show, two teams of four have 30 days to get from New York City to San Francisco. However, contestants aren't allowed to bring any money or credit cards. They have to beg for any food, shelter, or transportation from strangers. Making matters even more difficult, they can receive only one favor from each person. In addition, both teams have to perform 10 tasks, which range from competing in a bass-fishing tournament to entering a prison and playing basketball with the inmates--but the challenges aren't prearranged by ESPN; the contestants have to smooth-talk their way to their goals. …