MTV's 23rd installment of the hit reality show The Real World is set in the District of Columbia. The show's eight member cast of twentysomethings includes a bisexual man struggling with his sexuality.
Mike Manning, 22, interns at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest advocate for gay rights, but don't call him the "token gay."
"I lobbied congressmen and I'd go to fundraisers and press [events]," Manning told TVGuide.com. "I think the viewers – especially young viewers – will really enjoy it. It shows young people that, hey, it's not that intimidating to pick up the phone and call your congressman or senator."
Mike's bio reads like the typical high school jock – star athlete, prom king, popular with all the girls – which might explain some of his anxiety about being gay.
"Growing up in Colorado, when I thought of gay people, I thought of, like, the Village People and feather boas – that's the problem. I thought, 'I don't walk around with makeup and stuff, so I must not be gay.' That's a terrible, terrible way to go about things. Over the course of living in DC, I came to know that even more."
"I think 'bisexual' has a negative connotation to it, so I'd hate to [label myself that], but in 20 years if the right girl comes along, I'm not going to be like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I said I was gay 20 years ago. It's not going to work,'" he added.
And on being called the "token gay," Manning said he hates it.
"I hate categories. I hate America's obsessive need to fit every peg into a hole and everything into a category," he said. "You always create a family by creating outsiders and I think that's wrong. When they [called me] 'token gay guy,' I think most Americans think of stereotypes within that title – 'Oh, he doesn't like sports. Oh, he's whiny, he's going to cry. He's going to be good at fashion.' I suck at fashion!"
"I just recently learned how to match – you can't wear brown shoes with a black shirt," he jokes.
The Real World: DC premiered Wednesday on MTV.