The Challenge

A History of Gay Men In the First Challenge Elimination

If The Challenge was a horror movie, the gay guy would get targeted first. But are they really worthy of the stigma?

There’s a Challenge cliché where gay men tend to go into the first elimination. Is it true? Not always, but there have been a quite a few instances. Spies, Lies and Allies is not an exception. Corey L. was put into The Lair by Aneesa & Logan, but he came out victorious.

Many people are jaded by a stereotype that gay men are weaker and don’t perform well in competitive environments. This is just a stereotype, but let’s not pretend that reality TV doesn’t feed into stereotypes. The Real World likely tried to cast a certain type of person to represent gay people, and it took 11 seasons for Road Rules to cast an openly gay man.

Of course, The Challenge doesn’t use these feeder shows any more. We also need to acknowledge gay men are competitive and strong. Corey served at a perfect example of this, as he has a lot of muscle and dominated his elimination. While his performance should be applauded, he’s on season 37. History has told us that gay men get targeted quickly, but they’re not going to be an easy win.

Just to be clear, I use the term “gay” fairly loosely. Any male who has openly stated he dates the same sex will be considered for this list. These people may identify with a different queer identity.

The Winners

Dan Renzi

The first time a gay man was targeted in the first elimination, Dan felt he was underestimated on The Inferno 2. He used this as motivation, and he beat Jon in the first Inferno of the season. Dan is also the first openly gay man to win a Challenge, having won season 4: The Extreme Challenge.

Tyler Duckworth

It’s funny to think of a time when Bananas wasn’t ruling the game, but Tyler was sent into the first Duel of the season. He called out Bananas and won in I Can. We all know Tyler has a long history with Johnny, and this was a time he bested his Key West roommate. Of course, Tyler continued to be a target and lost in the second male Duel.

Ryan Kehoe

On The Gauntlet 3, Ryan was a prime target for the first elimination. However, the Veterans had the power to keep him safe because he was considered weak. This reputation carried over to The Duel 2. While he was sent to The Duel because he wasn’t picked during the selection process, he called out Nick and won in the Elevator elimination. Nick had a hurt hand, which likely informed Ryan’s pick, but he did get a win in the end.

Derek Chavez

Rivals 2 found Derek in a familiar position. He was paired with Robb, and neither of them were super veteraned in the game. So, they were voted into the first elimination by the women. In the Last Chance Jungle, Derek was nimble enough to sneak past the chaos and win for his team. While there are rumors that Dunbar threw this elimination, a win is a win.

Frank Sweeney

By the time Free Agents rolled around, Frank was a force in the game and had some respect on his name. But, The Draw knew no boundaries and he flipped the Kill Card. Frank beat Chet in the first elimination and got deja vu on episode 2. His second Kill Card sent him in to elimination against Dustin. He was sick, still won, then got removed from the game for allegedly being contagious.

Corey Lay

For the first time in over 10 seasons, a gay man won the first elimination. Corey is built differently than a lot of people named on this list. He has a lot more muscle and is a bigger physical presence. He’s the type of rookie who might be targeted for being strong, rather than his weaknesses.


Derek Chavez

It’s hard to believe that a gay male didn’t lose in the first elimination until season 20: Cutthroat. This was Derek’s first season, and he came in with a few of his Real World: Cancun roommates. However, he was the only male from this season to appear on Cutthroat. Admittedly, sending in rookies was an established tradition by this point, and Derek lost to Brandon in Handcuffs. His Real World roommate Emilee went home right next to him.

Davis Mallory

Davis was never too far from the first elimination on his prior seasons, but his third season finally sent him into elimination #1. Blast Off was a strength-based game, and Tyrie finally had a game that catered to his size. On the other hand, Davis was easily the smallest player in this elimination and got edited to appear more concerned with his face than winning.

Shane Raines

While Shane technically didn’t lose an elimination, he did lose the first purge on Dirty Thirty. He could have fought his way back into the house, but a fight with Simone got him booted from the show because of a hair stylist’s quarrel.

Sean Lineker

To be fair, Sean looked pretty fit when he debuted on War of the Worlds 2. Similarly to Corey, he clearly put some effort into his physique and was familiar with competition. The numbers weren’t in his favor, but the Tribunal wanted to give him a fighting chance. When he faced Idris in Pole Wrestle, his fight wasn’t enough.

Other Moments of Note

Danny Dias

The Veterans lost the first mission on The Gauntlet, so Danny was immune. The first time the Rookies lost, Alton picked Danny to go into the Gauntlet. Then, he promptly lost Beach Brawl in about 3 seconds.

Davis Mallory

The Denver cast had big numbers on The Inferno 3, but Davis still managed to get nominated to go into the first Inferno. He was slated to compete, but Alton volunteered to build team morale and keep Davis safe. Davis went into the second elimination, but he won.

Just look at the numbers. If a gay man is sent into the first elimination, he’s more likely to win than lose. There are certainly times when these men were targeted based on stereotypes, but there are other times when they were getting the rookie treatments. Corey’s victory is a refreshing change of pace, but simply having him on the show is exciting. The past three seasons (Total Madness, Double Agents, and All Stars) have not have any gay men on the show. Getting some strong representation is excited, and it’s great to see a rookie who can put in a fight.

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