Real World‘s Danny Roberts and Military Boyfriend Split

Danny Roberts and Paul Dill’s was a TV relationship half of which was obscured by a blurred oval meant to block identity. On The Real World, a show meant to reveal the inner workings of relationships, the concealed identity merely exposed the U.S. military’s sad policy of discrimination against gays.

In the latest issue of The Advocate, Danny Roberts, the Real World: New Orleans cast member whose love affair with Army captain Paul Dill remained achingly private throughout the show’s season, tells Jon Barrett the pair’s seven-year relationship has ended.

When the Real World finished, Roberts moved to North Carolina to live with Dill, who would be in the military for another two years. Unfortunately, Roberts said that moving in with Dill in secrecy was the beginning of the relationship’s ‘undoing': “We could not live our lives. We could not be a normal couple. We lived in so much fear. We were forced to live underground.”

Roberts said that by the time Dill got out of the military, too much damage to the relationship had already been done. Dill’s identity was blurred during the show, but he later made an appearance on MTV in an interview with John Norris.

Thanks to Towleroad correspondent Alan L., we have the rare clip. Enjoy. And let’s hope that with a new Congress perhaps we can move forward on getting this discriminatory policy changed.

Comments

  1. Jeff says

    There made a great couple. Too bad they split. It was a heck of a lot of pressure to contend with, though.

    In happier news, my partner and I celebrate 16 years together today! We met November 9, 1990, and haven’t looked back since.

  2. hoya86 says

    Too bad for them.

    I always find it a bit strange when people (gay or straight) talk about their relationship as if it was this entity apart from the two people who are supposed to be in the relationship. It’s like the relationship is a house and they just live there. I don’t know these guys from a hole in the wall, it just sounds a little detached.

  3. Ogden says

    …….and we should care because?

    Gay men break-up every day, hour, minute, second…. This relationship was never news worthy. It’s not like Danny or his boyfriend tried to affect change in the military. To the contrary, they were like little girls giggling about “their” secret. Cute, but somewhat vapid.

    Next!

  4. says

    This is my biggest beef with Towleroad… we give way too much credit to pointless things around here.

    The Real World: New Orleans did no more to expose the military’s discrimination of “don’t ask don’t tell” than last season did to expose the plight of hurricane victims. If I recall correctly, Paul (or his blurred face) was only in one episode, and Danny was running around making out with other guys at Mardi Gras.

    The Real World (and MTV in general) stopped being relevant ages ago.

  5. Bryan Lord says

    I’m sorry, but having just watched that clip you posted I can’t help feel that Paul wasn’t fooling anyone in the military. His mannerisms give him away.

  6. Paul Heffley says

    Thanks for this story, Andy. I remember the show very well. It was riveting and big news (covers of not only gay magazines but mainstream magazines). When Danny came to speak at the college campus near me last year I was in the audience. He gave a great talk, was very nice, and is a great role model for the gay community. I don’t understand these snotty “who cares” comments at all. I care very much. I wish both Danny and Paul much happiness in the future and I, for one, thank them for what they do for our community.

  7. sam says

    It’s easy to fool the military. I did it for 12 years and people said they were shocked, shocked when I came out. People see what they want to see. It’s strange, I saw nellie queens and stone butch dykes pass as hetero, but I also saw people investigated for the dreaded homosexuality on the flimsiest of evidence.

    I had my first boyfriend when I was still in the Army and the constant secrecy and my paranoia was a definite strain on the relationship. It’s possible to be gay in the military and maintain a relationship, but it’s very difficult.

  8. Patrick says

    Actually, Paul was in several episodes, and I personally was very touched by his appearance on the show and I think his fear about being outed was honestly portrayed. I think that Danny’s feeling that Paul having to hide in the early part of their relationship is what damaged their relationship is probably a bit trimming the puzzle pieces to fit kind of thinking. I think that two gay men in the same situation living a normal life can definately make that work, and Paul was only in the closet for period of that time. I think the fact that Danny was on the Real World was probably the biggest factor in any problem between them. He became an M-TV public figure involved with all that vapid Post-Real World crap that goes on with most people who go on with that show. The entire psuedo-celebrity world of “Real World/Road Rule” Challenges etc. which as the show’s history has proved destroys many relationships these casted young people get involved in.

    Anyway, it is sad that they broke up, as it is with any couple who have been together so long, but that’s just life.

  9. jimmyboyo says

    4 star retired general wesley Clark

    homosexuals should have EQUAL OPPURTUNITIES in the millitary (2003)
    millitary policy on homosexuals is ten years behind(2003)

    remember him when primary season hits (soon)

  10. Patrick says

    Oh, one more thought. Danny actually cheated on Paul during the show which was fully documented, yet Paul forgave him. I think that just that alone was an equal factor of their starting out on the wrong foot with the entire living in secrecy thing.

  11. Leland says

    What? What?? WHAT????!!! Are you fucking kidding me? You’re trying to get me to believe that someone gay was having to hide in the military—that there even WAS an antigay military policy—that someone was talking about it years ago on a hit MTV series and in interviews and on college campus audience all across the country B.R. [BEFORE REICHEN]????!!!! THAT’S what you’re trying to get me to believe?! Will you people stop trying to tear Reichen down after he’s suffered so much?! While he’s devoting every waking minute to fighting DADT at risk to his very life—just ask the F.B.I.?! After he must have sold his Ducati, his yachette, and his two Mercedes, and been forced to move into Lance’s studio apartment and live on tap water and Top Ramen so that he can give every cent he makes from his book and his posters and his calendars to SLDN?! Will you jealous bitches leave him alone??!!!

  12. PistolPetey says

    I’m surprised at how unbelievably sad I am because of this, even more so after watching the clip. It’s obvious they cared deeply for each other. it’s too bad they couldn’t make it work. If DADT had even a small part in their breakup, I’m outraged.

  13. James says

    As I recall Danny had already come out to his family — who were still dealing with it to varying degrees — but Paul’s family was even more conservative and he wasn’t out to them yet. And, Paul Heffley is right. Danny, sometims with Paul, does a lot of speaking — to the audiences that need it most — young people still forming their opinions unlike their brain frozen parents and grandparents. I hate to admit it because the length of time implied is so depressing but there’s a lot of truth to the statement that we’re only going to achieve full equality when the demographic of the majority of voters adequately changes — in other words, after the dinosaurs die.

    Regardless of what you/we might think of the show, and I have no idea what Real World’s ratings are, I betcha a Cosmo that millions of young people still watch it and are having their attitudes about gays influenced by it. Unfortunately, for every Paul (who to be fair was still really young and learning about life himself) or Pedro (God, what a loss!) there’s three Dan Renzis. But still I’d take any of those I saw years ago when I would watch it with my much younger cousin, or have read about since, over the messages sent by Carson Kressley whose face unfortunately is NOT blurred and only has to worry about getting kicked out of the men’s room at Barney’s.

  14. Paul says

    It’s some consolation to read in the interview with Danny that he and Paul have remained good friends. They both look like nice people. We all have our human frailties, and it’s tough to many any relationship work. My partner and I have been together since March 10, 1991. We’re very happy but of course there have been bumpy periods.

  15. ADifferentKevin says

    I guess it’s sad, in the same way any long-term relationship ending is.

    I’m not too familiar with either person, but does Danny always have that shit-eating grin on his face? He’s kind of annoying to listen to.

  16. Paul says

    Matt, hey – if you don’t care about this then don’t read it. I care. Maybe you never watched the show or heard of them, in which case I understand why you don’t care. I care because I watched the show regularly and came to care about them, gays in the military is an important issue, Paul speaks on college campuses to educate the young, they’re good looking (always helps ;>), and this is news to me. What I like about Towleroad is the blend of news, stories and features.

  17. jimmyboyo says

    James

    excellent point

    This election showed 2/3 of the millenial generation voted dem

    The coming generations are/ will be more liberal than the previous. To them, this is relevant.

    Our rights are coming……it is slow…..but things are changing as evidenced by the margin that the anti-gay marriage bans won at = much smaller margins than previous years.

    Each year more and more old farts pass away taking their anti-gay bias with them.

  18. ray says

    That’s too bad. That was the best RW season. Seeing Danny on TV helped me come to terms with who I was and I realized I was going to be OK. I started coming out partly because of him and the way he was portrayed on the show. Best of luck to him and Paul.

  19. Matt says

    Paul,

    I have actually met both of them. I did a Pride event with Danny and met Paul at a local pub afterward. I also watched the Real World. I found that Paul was a nice guy. I found Danny to be the exact opposite. Are they always like that? I don’t know. I spent only several hours with them. I find it humorous that you “came to care” about someone who cheated on his boyfriend on national tv and didn’t care about anyones rights but wanted his 15 minutes of fame.

  20. James says

    I swear to fucking god, more and more Towleroad posts are starting to read like sequels to “The Scarlett Letter.” Ooh, a guy in his early 20s just out of college and the closet cheated on his boyfriend after too many drinks during Mardi Gras. Oooh, ooooh. Lucky for him they stopped lynching people in New Orleans a few years before. Was it okay? No. Was it the end of the world (or their relationship)? No.

    Matt met Danny at a Pride event yet says he didn’t care anything about anyone’s rights. Certainly a vast percentage of Pride attendees are there just to play or whatever, but that he also does speaking engagements about gay rights, until further evidence appears, I’ll choose to give him the benefit of the doubt, even if you reply that he’s only doing that for the money. As for the 15 minutes of fame cliche, who wouldn’t? At least he’s doing it in the name of something important versus 99% of the fame whores we’re inundated with.

    And, even though no one asked re other housemates that season, I think it’s cool that he and Paul became friends with Kelley and attended her wedding to actor Scott Wolf. And I still think that hot, hot, hot gay-friendly Jamie and homo-hostile self-proclaimed stud David and Bible-pushing Matt are gayer than a window dresser at Christmas.

  21. Booger Ugly says

    I’m not one to gossip, but….

    Danny didn’t just cheat on paul during mardi gras, he slept with half of new orleans during that season and is currently getting it on with half of atlanta.

    but i’m not one to gossip….

  22. Anon says

    Oh please, typical gay relationship. Never last more than a few years, and I love how they blame the “military” for it. Odds are they got bored with each other, one of them strayed and screwed around or both. Either way, I’m not surprised, men can’t be monogamous but it makes me laugh when they pretend they can be.

  23. Paul says

    Anonymous, you say typical gay relationships never last more than a few years. I don’t know the exact statistics on that, but don’t say never. I’m probably older than you, but I’ve been with my partner for almost 16 years (next March). Other couples we socialize with have been together between 2 and up to 27 years. We long-term gay couples ARE out here, but whether we’re typical or not, who knows.

  24. SGR says

    I recall squirming while watching the Real World with Danny with my roommates when I was closeted, hoping my admiration for him wouldn’t out me somehow. He was one of the few gay faces on TV, and I recall secretly wishing I could have been as open as he was. They came across as a real good guys, and their romance was so, well, romantic to me. Heady stuff back in the day! Sad to hear they’ve broken up.

    To those of you who wonder why anyone would care, understand that the visibility of couples like Danny and Paul do make a difference to gay youth and closeted young men. Some of the comments about them here are disappointing. They certainly had an impact on my life, and I can only wish them well.

  25. Bobby says

    The average “long-term” couples that I’ve come across, and I’ve traveled all over, are either cheating or have an open relationship.

    The countless times I’ve gone into building a new friendship with couples only to find out that they had “other” ideas for me is 9 in 10. Of course, we’re talking about reasonably attractive men who go to “gay” vacation destinations and live in metropolitan cities.

    I don’t believe long-term relationships work without a serious case of co-dependency or financial incentive (ie. real estate, etc..).

  26. Zack says

    I would agree with Bobby. Any couple that I’ve come across (over 2 years in most cases) is either cheating or has an open relationship (while on vacation).

    I think we (gay men) should move away from the idea of marriage and focus on domestic partnership. I think that’s a much more honest and realistic interp. of what it will be. To think that marriage is going to change the way gay men interact with each other is simply absurd.

  27. jimmyboyo says

    Then zack and Bobby you both need to stop hanging out with sluts.

    Your logic is fallable.

    You are saying that if the 1 to 30 people you hang with are sluts then the billion (10% of 6 billion world population= 1 billion gays on earth)are sluts

    that is so laughably parochial, ghetto, small, etc

  28. Zack says

    I am saying that I have crossed the world and met a very diverse group of gay men. In MOST of my findings, I have come to see that gay men are incapable of having a long-term monogamous relationship.

    As for it being laughable, I’m guessing you live in a glass house yourself (or have simply passed the age of having the opportunity to sleep around so freely).

    The average gay man in his 20-40’s are incapable of monogamy. I call bullshit to anyone who says the majority can have a monogamous relationship!

  29. Stoner says

    I do think it’s hard for gay men to be monogamous relationships, unless they live in the woods. ;>) Either that or they aren’t sexual beings to begin with.

  30. Benny J. says

    Calling someone a slut is juvenile.

    Enjoying sex doesn’t make someone a slut. It makes them a sexual being. Something most people are afraid to admit to as they were brought up with a tortured outlook on sexual relations.

    If your open, honest and enjoy the person you are with, have at it!!!

  31. jimmyboyo says

    I am not against being a slut

    I have been a slut back between 16-23…and by that i mean SLUT!!! 2 porn movies, 2 amature strip contest wins, and a lot of slutting around

    But now in my mid to late 20’s I prefer to date monogamously (is that even a word)

    Where my monogamous relationships perfect? No…no relationship is, but they were monogamous and ended

    1) he was a republican and I couldn’t keep up the dem repub caucasing and remain sane
    2) he was too much a self absorbed person

    No cheating what so ever in those relationships…and not to toot my own horn..I was the one to break them off…people don’t cheat on me….LOL

    I am all for being a slut if you want to be a slut…but keep the sluttyness out of relationships…you want a relationship then have a relationship…if you want to slut around then more power to you…the 2 do not mix

    zeke…Like I said…since 10% of the population is gay and there are 6 Billion people on the planet…for anyone to make such generalized claims about the 1 billion….that is 1,000,000,000 gay people is very small, a ghetto mentality, parochial, and ignorant (making logic jumps based on such a small perspective)

    You want to meet guys who don’t sleep around then stop picking up your boyfriends from bath houses, street corners, and bars….

  32. Leland says

    Gosh, all of these loaded words like “slut” and “cheat” and…. Take a step back everyone. This old queen who’s had to rotate his odometer more times than he can remember, and has a LV steamer truck covered with the stickers of international destinations long since gone, submits this: in terms of sexual exclusivity [versus romantic attachment] the challenge isn’t GAY men, it is MEN period.

    While some gay men like some straight men are entirely capable of, even exclusively desirous of, being perfectly content with a single sex partner, I believe more have a biological imperative for several. I have met few straight married men who did not wander at least once in their marriage, despite society’s emphasis on “fidelity” and myriad support systems for straight couples. And with research showing how often in a day men [I’m assuming but don’t know that all were nongay] think about sex, versus women, I’m convinced that straight men would have as much sex as gay men if they could. Problemo Uno: the ones they want [women] typically are not as

    That some gay male couples, even when one or both parties would like to trick with others, manage not is a miracle given that, again, while the world emphasizes straight RELATIONSHIPS, the gay world emphasize dick, Dick, and more dick.

    I build no value system around sexual monogamy or, as it were, polygamy. I only encourage people to be honest with each other going into a relationship and not make promises they anticipate they can’t keep [and, in turn, when one or both “stray” to react in terms of where their hearts not where their dicks have been].

    As reflected in the cluck clucking above about “cheating,” I believe we have for far too long blindly taken on the definitions and values which evolved from hetero pairing; which, in many ways, came about, even for them, with the hope of ensuring “domestic tranquility” more than “domestic bliss.” Consider that many of the Ten Commandments can be viewed in terms of not doing such and such simply because of the individual and social repercussions. In other words, maybe coveting your neighbor’s ass is less bad in and of itself than the results of your acting upon it.

    Ancient prohibitions against homosex can be seen in terms of simply not resulting in a child, another addition to the tribe to help it survive. Why else, too, the prohibition against masturbation [Onanism], even if it did not grow mistakenly out of what was actually Onan’s coitus interruptus?

    Before I put everyone to sleep, suffice it to say that I believe it is how we treat each other, how we love, not how many we fuck, and what the romantic relationships, open or closed, that occur are called is important only in terms of “equality in all things,” but important, none the less.

  33. Zack says

    Jimmy-

    You couldn’t possibly know who I am to make such a statement about where I meet boyfriends and others. If you did, you’d find that I’m as clean-cut and value-oriented as anyone else that enjoys this site.

    However, having reached my mid-30’s and experiences enough of gay life and relationships to write my own book, I am telling you as it is (for the majority of gay men).

    My guess is your hope for what you want is getting in the way of the hard cold facts. That, and the bright eyed optimism that only a young man in his 20’s can still enjoy. It’s not impossible, just highly improbable.

    My guess is that most men enter into relationships with best intentions. Unfortunately, time, routine and general boredom (and outside stimulation) takes it toll on the “average” gay man in a long-term relationship.

    I wish you luck in finding what you are looking for. In fact, I wish all of us luck in finding what we’re looking for.

    Oh, and before you say so, I’m not a “bitter” old queen. I’m actually a vibrant gay man who enjoys positive relationships with all those who come into my life. I’m just a bit older and wiser than you.

    Take my statements as you will.

  34. jimmyboyo says

    zack

    True, I do not know you

    but you do not know the 1 billion gays (divide it in half for the men) ok 500,000,000 gay men on this planet to make such a

    sweeping generalization

    Monogamy is not just a cultural thing…there are animal species that mate for life

    Ravens, Geese, Coyotes (my personal faves) just to name a few are monogamous as a species= mate for life with 1 partner unless said partner dies

    I am not against triads (3 people who choose to be monogamous within the parameter of 3 people)

    I am not against sleeping around as much as you want OUTSIDE of a relationship

    Nor am I against sex…personaly love it…4-5 mastubatory joys a day is my average…..

    BUT to say that all gay men cheat

    hell all men cheat is a sweeping generalization

    yes, men tend to be dogs more than females

    yes there are many gay men who have open relationships

    But just as nature shows that homosexuality is perfectly normal and common place…so to does nature show that monogamy is for certain species a normal state of being

  35. Jimmyboyo says

    RJ
    LOL Busted, math is not one of my strengths

    10% out of 6 billion humans is 600 million 1/2 that to get the gay male population estimate = 300,000,000 gay males that I know zack has not personaly met

  36. Jimmyboyo says

    LOL

    so zack you have actualy met, talked to, polled, and followed around with a camera 300,000,000 gay men

    LOL
    LOL
    LOL

    you are just acting like a kid now who got busted and refuses to concede.

    Admit it, you made SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS

    sweeping generalizations

    You haven’t even been part of a scientific sampeling poll lets say a cross section of gay men around the world numbering around 30,000 guys to make the

    sweeping generalizations you did

    Oh, so because you do something and or your boyfriends were such and such a way then all 300,000,000 gay men in the world are that way

    LOL

    a gay man in timbuktu is exactly the same as you. He looks at and reacts to the world exactly as you do despite totaly different cultural and environmental conditions. LOL

    Now that is arrogant

    bow down one and all….. zack is the god king of the universe and we are all but mini clone shadows of him

    LOL

  37. Cory says

    I’ll just add this. In my experience I have yet to meet any gay couple who is monogamous or long-term. I have lived in NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Palo Alto, CA and London and has had diverse gay friends from circuit queens to conservative politicians. None of them, and this is a lot of people covering many years and many diverse backgrounds, lasted beyond 3-4 years in a monogamous relationship. I once went to Asbury Park, NJ with a dear friend for a Holiday party in ’04. Now, if any one from NYC knows, Asbury Park, N.J. is a “new” gay destination for older (30-40), professional gay couples to buy up property and fix it up, turn it over, etc. I met a lot of gay “married” couples from NYC that weekend as I bartended for one of the couples’ Holiday party. Nearly ALL of them hit on me, asked me over, etc. Sadly, I did get drunk and have a three way with one couple LMAO (the last one I have had). No, I am not full of myself, yes I am reasonably attractive and no I am not bitter or jaded. In fact, I was a hard believer that monogamy is possible in gay relationships, I was a young twenty-something that believed in happily ever after. After dating and maturing I realized gay MEN are just that, MEN. It is difficult as gay men to come out in the first place as most if not all of use come out in our early 20’s. I equate this with our “high school years”, as we first begin to date, etc. However, at this point many of us are very insecure, feeling either rejected from our families or society, or both. We go to the gym (some of us), go out, meet gay men, look for social acceptance that is usually in the base form of physical appearance and attraction. This wholey neglects our inner selves, our self-discovery is stunted and we continue down a shallow path of looking for approval through fellow gay friends and lovers, going from one relationship to the next looking for sexual approval like a junkie looking for his next fix. Once that 3-4 month period hits many of us flee the relationship looking for our next “fix”, primarily for that reason and the fact that in order for ANY relation to work each partner has to enter it with a sense of self, confidence, security, love for themselves and their partner. If sexual love doesn’t mature into love and caring then they move on. Most gay men do not have an established sense of self and security but rather seek perfection to over shadow their own short-comings and imperfections. As a couple grows and matures, they have to be willing to bear their insecurities like a wound, be willing to admit they aren’t the Martha Stewart “perfect” self they attempt to portray and grow as a TEAM. Sex and promiscuity are just excuses for self-avoidance and denial, it distracts from the issues at hand. Children in marriages and relationships typically ground people (men especially) in that they put their own selfish needs and insecurities second or last for the love and well-being of their child. Having a child is the quickest way for people to realize thay aren’t perfect, they have issues, they do love other people and themselves and they do want more than just sex. It is not just a sexual “thing” or biological need for man to “sow his oats” as that is a complete cop-out for giving up, it is a need for accepting and loving oneself enough to commit to the love and need for another human being. As HUMAN’S before GAY MEN, we know better than this, or at least we should…

  38. GBM says

    I have yet to encounter any, but there may indeed be relationships between men that remain completely monogamous. I say good for them, if that’s what they both want.

    However, the reason that many, many gay couples accomodate for extra-relationship sex is threefold: they realize 1) men can be horny devils that all too often think with their cocks, 2) sex is fun and yet does not a relationship make or break, and, 3) life goes on after fooling around, the world does not end in fiery apocalypse after a blow-job or threesome, and both partners can resume their healthy relationship even when knowing their boyfriend just tasted another guy’s dick. An earth-shattering revelation, I know, but one not openly ackowledged in hetero circles and even, apparently, in a few gay ones as well. For those jealous types, you’ll have to be content with monogamy or try a little behind-the-scenes cheating every now and then when craving a little something else.

    By the way, congrats to Jeff and Paul and their respective partners for 16 years together! Whether monogamous or open, that’s a hell of long time of love, learning, lube and commitment. Good luck in the next 16 years. : )

  39. Crisco says

    I’m in the military and from the units I’ve been in no one really cares if people are gay or straight, more non-military people make a big deal out of it. When I’m in the middle of the shit, gay or straight I could care less, just have my back.

    When it comes to the damn policy people don’t really want to get involved cause it’s soooo much paper work. And the last thing you want to do in the Army is DOD paperwork.

  40. Derrick says

    Maybe someone can clear up for me why this story is important? Surely there’s more interesting topics than who broke up with who on MTV. I don’t watch MTV, so I admit that I’m in the dark on this, but that said, what qualifies this guy to give talks at colleges? Is it because he was on MTV and out? I’m skeptical that I could learn a great deal about gay rights from a fresh-out-of-high school reality television flavor of the season. Where are the real gay role models?

  41. Paul says

    Well, not to be snotty about it on purpose, but the first thing that came to mind Derrick (and Martin) is… what have YOU done, exactly? Danny was a TV celebrity, speaks at universities, has brought awareness to gay issues and Paul to military issues. Do you just sit at home typing criticism? Maybe we don’t have a plethora of the greatest, biggest role models but Danny is/was certainly one. Does every bit of news in the world, or on Towleroad, have to be of Great Importance? It isn’t. Andy runs stories about soccer stars shopping, or dropping their pants, or Madonna’s latest whatever. I think there is more than room for Danny’s story.

  42. Levi says

    That gay men cheat or may not remain faithful isn’t a GAY thing but, as someone already pointed out, a MAN thing!! While some of you were meeting gay couples and getting hit on you should have sat down with some straight couples too who were married 20, 30, or even 40+ years and you’d get an earfull as well. They weren’t without their fidelity issues, trust me. What separates them from the gay couples is that they made a concerted effort to work through those trying times and move past the infidelity. THAT is why they are still together today. NOT because their husband was faithfull the entire time.

    As gay men we first need to stop thinking so little of ourselves before anyone else will think any better of us.

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