“The Real World: New Orleans” star Danny Roberts has finally found “closure” with ex-boyfriend Paul Dill after reuniting on Paramount+’s “Homecoming” remake of the iconic MTV reality series.
“To be honest, I actually opposed it. I didn’t want to see Paul, I didn’t want to revisit this,” Roberts, 44, tells Page Six in an exclusive interview. “The production pushed it, but I’m actually thankful that they did.”
He explains, “Because it ended up being a positive closing. I think [Paul] I actually really wanted to come over and genuinely apologize for a lot of what had happened. [in our relationship]. I’m glad it’s all over.”
When the Georgia native came to The Big Easy in 2000 at age 22, he wowed fans with his good looks, charismatic personality and rational approach to handling conflict at The Belfort. But the touchstone of Roberts’ time on the show was his willingness to speak out about his experience as a gay man in America.
By highlighting his relationship with Dill, a US Army captain who agreed to film as long as his face was hidden, Roberts inadvertently became the symbol of the movement against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the US Army. Clinton administration that prohibited homosexuals from serving openly in the military.
“[Some] call it brave. Perhaps I call him young, naive, infatuated and in love at the time? I was in the moment at the time, not thinking about the long-term ramifications,” said Roberts, whose advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community continues today.
“You don’t think about how you’re going to be this person and act out this issue for much of your life.”
Despite the positive impact her groundbreaking run on “Real World” had on young gay viewers, Roberts says the aftermath of her reality TV experience only made dating Dill more difficult.
The pair may have inspired meaningful conversations about acceptance in a divisive sociopolitical climate, but “DADT” would remain in full effect throughout the duration of their relationship. (Former President Barack Obama repealed it in 2011.)
“It negatively impacted our lives. He was still in the army. Ironically, I had to go back into the closet in many ways and live a secret life with him for years,” says Roberts, who broke up with Dill in 2006.
“That was most of my 20 years,” he notes. “So in many ways, I feel like a lot of my early adult years were stolen from me. I just had no idea what I was getting into at the time.”
Roberts also had no idea what she was getting into when she finally agreed to reconnect with Dill on camera 15 years later.
“I’m going to be honest. I didn’t really want to see it. We ended on a crazy sour note. I can now look back as a wiser adult and realize that so much of what happened in our relationship was outside of us and our relationship.” control”, he reflects.
“But it was the first time we were able to sit down and talk beyond that and see it from a distance and realize that a lot of it wasn’t about us. It was about the circumstances. So that brought a lot of peace.”
Roberts says that Dill, who first revealed his face in a 2004 MTV News special about the dangers of “DADT,” deserves “a lot of credit” for sharing his story in the early years and today.
“He is the one who put his life and career directly on the line. And by the way, seeing him like that was the first time I had seen his face or spoken to him in 15 years,” he says. “So, it was a big problem.”
Months after “Homecoming” wraps up production, Roberts tells Page Six he’s not sure how to proceed with Dill.
“I think it’s been a long time in life and I think we’re in very different places,” he says. “I don’t know what we are. I don’t know if I necessarily want him more in my life, to be completely honest.”
Roberts, who shares a daughter, Naiya Sage, 6, with ex-husband Wes Pereria, currently divides her time between New York City and rural Vermont, where she owns a cabin and dates someone new.
“I met a guy and we’ve been seeing each other for about a year and a half. He runs a large dairy farm [in Vermont]so it’s a very different life now,” he says, adding that his “chronic attraction to narcissists” has lessened.
“What I’ve learned is that I’m attracted to long-term relationships. I spent most of my adult life in a relationship,” explains Roberts. “And what I also learned through these trips is that I am naturally attracted to narcissists. Narcissists are attracted to me. I have learned… to run as fast as I can from narcissists.”
“The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans” is available to stream on Paramount+. New episodes drop on Wednesdays.