A gay country boy can survive and make it in reality TV

A self-confessed “rhinestone redneck”, Adam Freeman knew he would have his work cut out for him when he agreed to be the first openly gay contestant on a CMT reality show.

If that wasn’t daunting enough, imagine his thought at being thrown onto an island with a bunch of other rednecks and you can see why Freeman might’ve been a bit hesitant to join the cast of “Redneck Island”.

“Going in I thought, Oh hell! I’m gonna get beat up!” Freeman jokes. “These [rednecks] were in their camo, and I showed up on the island like a disco ball.”

While the definition for the word redneck can run the gamut, Freeman is quick to point out the underlying premise of what it means to be a redneck: “[A redneck] is very laid back, really into their family and being Southern, and knows how to have a good time with very little.”

CMT's Redneck Island - Official Promo 1youtu.be

When pressed about what makes a gay redneck, Freeman acknowledges that a gay redneck “knows how to have a better time!”

If you’ve yet to catch “Redneck Island”, think of it as “Survivor” with beer and challenges to win a golden Port-A-Potty. Throw in a Dolly Parton tribute artist and you’d only just scratch the surface of what CMT has in store for Freeman and the rest of the “Island”’s contestants.

When he arrived, Freeman, a Nashville hairdresser, could only have hoped that the reactions from fellow contestants would be the worst of his problems on “Redneck Island”.

“I flipped out [when I got there]. I couldn’t take my lip gloss and there was no electricity for my hair dryer,” he says. “It was like taking a walker from a handicapped man. I felt naked for the first few weeks.”

Survival is in his nature though. Having struggled with his sexuality through two marriages and a Southern Baptist family, Freeman is no stranger to life-altering change.

“Growing up I learned to suppress who I was to make everyone happy,” he says, “but I was miserable and hit rock bottom much like a drug addict...except there is no rehab for being gay. I had to deal with it and stop lying to everyone and myself.

“It hurts those around you when you’re hurting in life yourself,” he continues. “I had to open up and share who I was. While I lost some people in my life, I also gained some great people, and now my family accepts my partner and me.”

Those great people include his five children, which understandably was a drawback to taping the show. “Being away from my kids was harder than coming out,” he says.

Overall, Freeman’s journey helped inspire his decision to join the cast and show the world exactly who he is. “The [other contestants] weren’t people that were accepting of gays, but they opened up being there with me,” he explains. “I really hope I can reach out to the youth in the South, so they don’t have to go through the years that I went through.”

Freeman also hopes that his appearance will show people that you can be who you are. “I’m Adam, I’m from the South, and I’ll drink some beer with ya,” he quips. “But I’m still gay.”

Watch Freeman and the rest of the cast of CMT’s “Redneck Island” online at www.CMT.com.

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