HGTV’s David Bromstad shines on Color Splash
Posted by pozlife on June 5, 2007
, Contributing Writer
June 3, 2007
Whether they’re demonstrating their willingness to eat worms, whip up a soufflé, get a makeover, or have their living room redecorated with items currently languishing in their own garages, reality TV has always been a pretty good place for the gays. Striking a note more of gentle subversion than in-your-face sensationalism, most of the home decorating, cooking and fashion makeover shows treat queer guests and contestants pretty much just like everyone else.
The Home and Garden Network is no exception, regularly fixing the severe organizational problems and real-estate woes of same-sex couples without batting an eye. And when they decided to do a home decorating reality competition show called Design Star, they didn’t bat an eye that one of the contestants — and its ultimate winner — was David Bromstad, an out gay designer from Miami.
What was the prize for Bromstad’s victory over the other 10 contestants? His own show, Color Splash, which debuted on HGTV in March and has already been picked up for two more seasons.
Gay viewers might be excused for thinking, “Wow, stop the presses! A gay interior designer!” But Bromstad wasn’t sure at first just how out he wanted to be when he signed up for Design Star.
“It was definitely something I thought about,” Bromstad told AfterElton.com. “I think any normal gay man, at least when they’re not super flaming, would go, ‘How should I play this? Should I play the ‘He’s just a very artistic guy, but he still likes girls?'”
That wasn’t him, he decided. “I went in there, and I just wanted to be myself,” he said. “I didn’t want to be anything that anyone expected me to be. I just wanted to have a great time. I wanted this to be the best experience of my life, whether I won or lost. I could not be not myself.”
During filming, Design Star contestants were cut off from the outside world and only had each other for company. “You had no cell phones, you couldn’t read magazines or books or [watch] TV,” Bromstad explained. “I just thought it was the best opportunity to shake everything you’ve grown up with — and the stigmas of people — and just be you. I was more myself on Design Star than I was any time in my whole life.”
His decision to be open and honest was clearly the right one. “No one cared because I didn’t make a big deal out of it,” he said. “I didn’t go like this: ‘OK everybody, I want to sit you down. I’m gay.’ It wasn’t that. It was just me being me, and if by chance I happened to talk about, it was nothing. Because I made it nothing, everyone else didn’t care, either.
“And I became best friends with the cute little Southern girl. How ironic and bizarre that she was my final competitor, but usually you wouldn’t see a gay man and a Southern girl with strict religious values befriend each other or be that close to each other as we were. We didn’t care. It was no big deal for anybody.”
Some reality shows focus less on the talent of the competitors and more on the backstage interpersonal drama, but Design Star definitely kept the focus on interior design. “That was the great thing about Design Star: Everybody really connected as people. They didn’t play that off on camera. They didn’t have to do that because cattiness is more fun to watch than everyone loving each other. … We just really genuinely really cared about each other.”
Some of the magic of Design Star was simply because the show focused more on interior design than backstage drama. “I think people really appreciated that when they sat down to watch a competition reality show,” Bromstad said.
“I mean, there was a little backbiting with Temple and Donna, but that was it. There wasn’t much. I think it was refreshing for people to sit down and watch something so great and still walk away feeling good instead of going, ‘God, I feel gross because they’re so nasty to each other on national television. What were these people thinking?’ There wasn’t any of that. I think people appreciated that.”
The prize for winning Design Star was his own TV show, and Bromstad’s Color Splash is a big HGTV success story — so much so that in addition to picking up two more seasons of the show, they’re doing another season of Design Star itself.
In a press release, James Bolosh, vice president of event programming for HGTV, said: “HGTV Design Star ended its first season as the highest-rated series in the network’s history, so we are sure that viewers will embrace this new opportunity to weigh in on who should win their own show on HGTV. Last year we discovered David Bromstad — that one special talent who had the potential to be a ‘break out’ star. He’s a star. We’re ready to do it again.”
Will Bromstad be involved with the next season of the show that gave him his start? Absolutely, he said, but exactly how is a secret. “I have been involved in Design Star, that’s all that I can tell you,” he said. “But I must say — and I’ll even say this without a question being asked — I’m going to have a little trouble giving up my crown. Just a little bit. I didn’t realize, like another design star comes in, I’m not going to be the design star anymore. I’ll be the first design star, but I’ll have to hand [over] that crown.”
He sighed, then laughed. “I’ll gladly do it. I’m very excited for the next person. Their life is going to change in so many amazing ways.”
Bromstad has nothing but praise for the people at HGTV, which is headquartered in Tennessee, for their acceptance of an out gay host for their newest show. “They had the opportunity of being very not gay-friendly,” Bromstad pointed out. “They are. It’s great. I love HGTV.”
He continued: “They have treated me so well and have encouraged me to just continue to be myself. And they didn’t edit me. I was very openly gay on the show, but they didn’t edit me to be this big flaming queen, which they could have done. I think in anyone’s environment, you just let down your hair and just act like a damn fool. And I did. There’s the power of editing, I’m telling you, to make a nice person look mean, and a mean person look nice. They can do that. I appreciate that they didn’t.”
Although a number of HGTV shows regularly feature gay and lesbian guests, Color Splash hasn’t exactly been a showcase of cultural diversity. All that’s going to change, he promises: “HGTV is very much pushing for a much more diverse crew. We’re not going to see a lot of diversity in the second season, but in the third and fourth season we’re going to see a lot of diversity, whether that means a different race or that they’re gay or that they’re single, it’s going to be more diverse.”
How does the media treat him as an out gay man? Bromstad said that only the gay media asks him about being gay. “The straight media — they don’t really care, which is great,” he said. “They may ask a question every once in awhile, but they usually just ask if I’m dating somebody.”
And is he? Bromstad laughed and answered, “I am dating somebody. Somebody that’s very special. I have to be cryptic.”
Bromstad’s relationship is a long-distance one at the moment, as his boyfriend lives in Miami and Color Splash is filmed in San Francisco, where he’s living. “Thank God that I was in the position that I could be in,” he said. “Even though I was dating somebody, it was either going to make or break a relationship. That usually is how long distance goes, and it just made our relationship much stronger, which is so encouraging.”
Is he enjoying living in the gayest place on earth? “San Francisco is a wonderful city,” he said. “There’s so many things I’m falling in love with. The more I’m here, the more I’m falling in love with it. There’s definitely a lot of gay people … the whole city’s gay. Everywhere you go you see gay people, and I love that.”
It’s been an amazing year for David Bromstad, from winning the Design Star crown, to having his own show, to moving across the country. Through it all, he’s been grateful to his fans, especially his gay fans. “Everyone’s been so supportive and so great, especially here in San Francisco,” he said. “I really appreciate that. It’s really nice. I just have felt a lot of love from the community, and I hope I make them proud.”