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#LGBTQ Allies: Please Respect the ‘T’!

While many fans of Bravo’s Flipping Out and Jeff Lewis’s show Jeff Lewis Live (on Radio Andy, a channel on Sirius XM) are focused on his split with long-term boyfriend Gage Edwards, the drama of the split and ensuing contentiousness, some took note and were perplexed by a discussion at the top of today’s show.

Actor Doug Budin (Modern Family, 2 Broke Girls) was the guest, and a surprising exchange transpired that had listeners wondering how Jeff Lewis, who is openly gay and has historically expressed support of others’ sexualities and identities, could make certain remarks.

Budin mentioned that three girls from Connecticut who ran track had filed a federal discrimination complaint. It stated that state-wide policy on transgender athletes have led to girls’ top finishes in races, and perhaps, have even led to college scholarships. “This complaint, on behalf of the girls…they’re asking for an investigation into the policy in order to make competitions fair,” said Budin. “This is in Connecticut…and Connecticut – their discrimination policy is [that the schools respect] the gender in which they identify… So that means athletes can compete according to their expressed gender rather than the gender they were born. They’re arguing that transgender athletes are always winning all of these running [competitions]….”

This could have been a moment for Lewis to respond tactfully, and in a way that showed his support for transgender women, but his response could be seen as alarming. Then again, this is Jeff Lewis. History has taught us to expect the unexpected with him, and much of the initial shock value surrounding him has worn off.  Nevertheless, when it came to the topic of transgender individuals, his response took many listeners aback.

“Because they’re dudes!” Lewis exclaimed. “They’re dudes. That’s the problem. I think this has merit, I really do. I’m really looking forward to all the negative social media messages I’m going to get this weekend. Obviously, generally, men are stronger than women. Men average 26 pounds of more skeletal muscle mass than women. Women have 40% less upper body strength and 33% less lower body strength. I like my statistics. I truly believe that whatever their gender was at birth…However in some cases, there’s been hormone therapy, right?  So if they’ve gone through hormone therapy, maybe that’s a different conversation. But these transgender women are consistently winning track and field events. I think only 17 states allow transgender high school athletes to compete. I do think this absolutely has some merit here.”

“I’m ambivalent about it,” Budin responded, “Because if you go through gender reassignment surgery, then you’re a woman. It’s not on what you were. It’s on what you are now.”

To this, Lewis replied: “Yeah, but some of these people…Look at Caitlyn. She’s a big woman. She’s strong. I don’t know. They have a lot of testosterone. It’s a slippery slope. I don’t know.”

Weeks ago, another Bravo star was subjected to scrutiny and scorn because she is known as an LGBTQ ally: Lisa Vanderpump made an off-handed remark during a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills confessional about costar Erika Jayne “tucking.” Erika Girardi has playfully compared her performing alter ego Erika Jayne to a drag queen in the past and has expressed her love for the art of drag. Therefore, many fans did not detect malice from Vanderpump, whereas others found the comment offensive. Vanderpump apologized in a public statement and expressed her full support of transgender individuals, as well as her regret for making a cavalier statement that upset some viewers.

Months ago, fans of the show Vanderpump Rules were disappointed when cast members didn’t fully acknowledge how Billie Lee, a transgender cast mate, could feel left out of an event labeled “Girls’ Night”.

“I understand not liking Billie Lee’s character or her personality,” said one Vanderpump viewer, “But why not have a thorough conversation with her – as [cast mate] Ariana Madix did – acknowledging an understanding of her feelings and properly clarifying the misunderstanding. The fact that they did not come across as empathetic or sympathetic to that is what turned me off.”

What are your thoughts on how Jeff Lewis handled today’s topic on his radio show? Do you think he should have steered the conversation in another direction to avoid potential criticism and controversy, or do you appreciate how he freely expresses his opinions at the risk of backlash?

If there is one thing I’ve learned from the past year of watching reality TV shows, it is that the LGBTQ community has a lot of supporters and people who consider themselves a part of this community, yet there is still a long way to go when it comes to respecting the “T” in LGBTQ.

 

 

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Flipping Out, Reality TV

#Flipping Out: Tune In to Jeff Lewis Live on Thursday

Jeff Lewis of Bravo’s Flipping Out, and of Sirius’s Jeff Lewis Live, was called for comment and provided with a few of his former work partner Jenni Pulos’s quotes to People magazine.

The former friends, who had an infamous falling out that will air this season on Bravo’s Flipping Out, are currently at odds, and viewers will get to witness the demise of their dynamic this season and weigh in at home.

Lewis announced on his radio show that the article, an exclusive interview with Pulos, is slated to hit East Coast newsstands on Wednesday. He declared that he will not comment until he’s read the piece in its entirety. His partner Gage added that the timing should coincide with Thursday’s episode of Jeff Lewis Live.

Pulos, for her part, has refrained from commenting on the breakdown of her friendship and working relationship with Lewis. Therefore, the People article will be her “Jenni breaks her silence” opportunity.

On air, Jeff facetiously asked guest Melody Chiu, also of People, whether Jenni had been strapped down to a lie detector test. Chiu replied that Jeff probably knew more than she did (the implication being that Dave Quinn, the People reporter to focus on a majority of Bravo-related topics, was the one who conducted the interview).

Be prepared for some unfiltered thoughts and jokes at Jenni’s expense on Thursday. Jeff is entertaining and possesses a unique brand of humor combined with neuroticism that entertains many, but I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side.

I trust that Jenni is prepared for the reaction and backlash from die-hard Lewis fans.

(Photo Source: Us Weekly)

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Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#FlippingOut: Jenni Pulos is Staying Mum, Not Taking the “Radziwillian Route”

Last Friday, Jeff Lewis took to his eponymous SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live to address the People report about a rift between him and his Flipping Out costar and longtime pal Jenni Pulos. It turns out, the former besties haven’t had a simple “falling out”: This was a breakup and it looks like there will be no reconciliation any time soon…if ever.

Why? Because Pulos – according to Lewis – reported him for verbal abuse and harassment to the production company and network (Bravo, of course) behind Flipping Out.

In a follow up article in People, reporter Dave Quinn writes:

Lewis, 48, addressed PEOPLE’s report that he and Pulos had gone their separate ways Friday on an emotional episode of his SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live. “It’s true,” the house flipper and designer said. “Jenni and I did have a fight which then resulted in a rift. … I haven’t spoken to her in three months.”

Quinn later adds:

According to Lewis, there’s more to their fallout. He said that Pulos allegedly reported him to Bravo and the show’s production company, Authentic Entertainment, for “abuse and victimization.”

Fans of Flipping Out can fully acknowledge that what makes Jeff Lewis fun to watch is how he balances work with his unpredictable temperament,and how, as hilarious and entertaining as he is to observe on TV, he probably “isn’t the easiest person to work with in real life.” Many would label that as an Understatement.

In past seasons, Pulos seemed to be the one to roll with the punches and cheer while riding the roller coaster of Lewis’s erratic moods. Her brand of humor struck many as ideally suited to his obsessive compulsions, idiosyncrasies and meltdowns…So now fans are wondering how things got this bad between them.

From the account Lewis provided on his Radio Andy show, one can surmise that Pulos was unhappy for quite some time, but did not effectively communicate her issues directly to Lewis. In turn, this resulted in Lewis feeling completely blindsided by the ensuing complaints.

Last year, I interviewed Lewis and Pulos within the same week. It was prior to the 2017 season premiere of Flipping Out. I found each of them to be quick-witted, charming, charismatic and surprisingly down to earth in our conversations. Since Lewis has now had the chance to share his side of the story about their breakup, I recently reached out to Pulos to see if she would share hers.

As I write this, I’ve received no response (and candidly, as well as humbly, given the extinction of Huffington Post’s Contributor Platform which afforded me the opportunity to interview her last year, I don’t expect to hear back). Another reason we should not expect to hear from her side right now: LAWYERS. This whole shebang is a developing story, but what makes it most interesting is that we’ll see the demise of the Jeff-Jenni friendship play out this season of Flipping Out — which has just begun airing.

Pulos has been active on social media posting about events like the recent deaths of John McCain and Burt Reynolds, as well as happy occasions, including time spent with children and extended family. There have been no instagram posts pertaining to Flipping Out in recent days, nor is Pulos going the Radziwillian Route of bashing her former cast mate on Twitter.

Interestingly, Pulos issued a benign promotional tweet for Flipping Out three days before Lewis revealed this bombshell: Pulos hasn’t been an employee of Jeff Lewis Designs in ages (Rather, she’s an employee of Bravo).

Lewis shared with listeners that it had bothered him for quite some time that this was the one insincere and not true-to-life aspect of their “reality show.”

Despite nasty missives hurled her way, Pulos has been staying mum, resisting the urge to reply to mean tweets from Lewis stans.

In time and as things calm down, we may hear her side of the story.

For now, silence is the smarter option. It is also likely to be the route advised by a legal team. Regardless, Pulos must sense that she’s taking the high road by resisting any urge to address reports.

We recently witnessed how Carole Radziwill struggled to get a word in edgewise next to her adversary Bethenny Frankel on the Real Housewives of New York reunion. If you check out Radziwill’s Twitter timeline, it seems she is carrying on an argument with Frankel post-show that Frankel has backed away from. After years of working with Jeff Lewis, Jenni Pulos knows that his powerful voice will drown hers out in a similar fashion to Frankel’s over Radziwill’s.

Independent of any legal protocol, Pulos appears more dignified by remaining mum, admirably swallowing her pride and letting Jeff Lewis have his say….for now.

(Photo Source: Us Weekly)

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