It has been almost five years since I first appeared as a dater on Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker. Some people may remember my episode: I squeamishly sat through a date while an egotistical millionaire berated me for choosing the steak as my dinner choice. From start to finish, the experience was a classic example of how a dream date can become a disaster in the blink of an eye. There would be no match in the Millionaire's Club that day.
But after that episode aired, something very special happened to me: People far and wide -- women and men, gay and straight, young and old -- reached out to me to share their personal stories about their dating hopes and horrors. People on the street, at the grocery store and in bars constantly stopped and talked to me about love. I remember thinking how amazing it was that people connected not just with my experience but with the fact that I was willing to go to any length to find love -- just like them.
There was one common thread going through each of these conversations: No matter how hopeful each person was, they all left me with the uneasy sense that they had lost faith in love and were desperately seeking someone to tell them that love still exists, that it's OK to be a romantic and believe that chivalry is still alive and well. I could hear the exhaustion in their voices as they asked for my advice on how to find their own "millionaire."
But this was 2010, and as a gay man, I was struggling not just with dating but with the possibility that Prop 8 would be upheld in California and I would never get the chance to marry. Enter Finding Cupid, a blog that I created for Frontiers. The blog picked up where my appearance on The Millionaire Matchmaker had left off, documenting my adventures as I looked for love in the gay dating world. As the fight for marriage equality continued in the political background, I wrote about what it would mean to me to find the man of my dreams and one day get the chance to marry him. Of course, such a blog would not be complete without a detailed account of my slips and spills when it came to dating, so I documented those too.
The blog was a success and eventually became a talk show where I brought all the adventures to life with live, in-studio guests. This made it easier for me to explore topics related to dating. Now I had everyday people who could share their own opinions on dating, relationships and the battle for marriage equality.
Along the way I used much of what I learned from Patti Stanger and my experience on The Millionaire Matchmaker to not only help others but help myself find success in love. (There is much to be said about Patti's brand of "tough love" advice. I cannot tell you how many times I was on a date and wished that she was there to call someone out on their immaturity or B.S.) This year I celebrated my two-year anniversary with my boyfriend. It was a great milestone for me, and I feel that I have applied much of my new-found relationship wisdom to our relationship. Sometimes I think my boyfriend thinks I'm crazy for the way that I carry on about love, romantic comedies and Valentine's Day -- but I also think he secretly likes it.
But just when I thought the year couldn't get any sweeter, I got a call asking me to be part of Patti's new team of matchmakers. It was the ultimate form of gratification. It validated all the work that I had been doing with Finding Cupid and creating the voice that I felt was still missing in the gay community, a voice that spoke to the many men and women who take relationships seriously and want to find a partner and have their own white picket fence, dogs and kids.
I can't think of a more perfect time for a gay man like me to be part of a hit television show and start helping the gay community find love. Five years ago, not only could a gay man not get married, but relationships still seemed to be lost in a trivial sort of parallel world. Now California is celebrating the historic defeat of Prop 8, and gay men and women are legally marrying in more and more states. It's a comforting feeling knowing that here in the Millionaire's Club, we are doing our part not only to help gay men and women start relationships but to show America that love is indeed just love.
To all those who love The Millionaire Matchmaker: Welcome back! You will not want to miss this season. Naturally I can't divulge any secrets, but I can tell you that when you tune in, you will find a few new faces, a swanky new office and many more celebrity guests. (I got to work with Carson Kressley, and he was truly a class act! I can't wait for you to watch that episode.) But even though there is a lot of newness, there is still much of what you have come to know and love: amazing dates, crazy personalities and that good old "tough love" from Patti herself.
And if you haven't ever watched the show, tune in. Watch as every week we try to help our millionaire clients -- gay, straight, and in-between -- find love with our daters, who come from all over to meet the man or woman of their dreams. The daters can rest assured that they have someone on their side, someone who has been in their shoes and knows what it's like to want to meet the love of your life. This time, though, if any of the millionaires act out of line, I will be there to give a little tough love of my own!
The Millionaire Matchmaker is on every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST only on Bravo.