Vanderpump Rules is a show about cis, straight white people. It is also one of the gayest shows on television.
I don’t mean because the show features L.A’s annual pride parade, or because of Lisa Vanderpump being an “icon” in the gay community. I’m not even referring to Lance Bass’ occasional cameos on VR, which are about as underwhelming as his career as an astronaut. No, I’m talking about the cast itself, and the friendships that seem more like relationships. For a group of straight friends, the Vanderpump Rules cast is about as queer as an adolescent boy in a fedora. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
One of the best things about Vanderpump Rules is that the cast is really friends. Unlike Bravo’s main attraction, the Real Housewives franchise, the VR gang has been working together and hanging out for many years, some for over a decade. As most of the people date within the group, the line between relationships and friendships can seem muddled, and with the amount these people drink, it’s inevitable that their latent homosexual desires come out.
Don’t believe me? Read it and weep.
Man Tears and Braziers, Season 5, Episode 16
The scene: Katie and Tom Schwartz are on their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party in Queen Stassi’s New Orleans. Katie and Schwartz hate each other. They do not want to get married but they have spent years in this relationship, “eating take-out and watching Pauly Shore movies,” so finding someone else at this point seems futile. With little to no emotional support from Tom, Katie turns to her girlfriends, the Witches of Weho. They’re the ones responsible for making her feel sexy and wanted, so it’s their jobs to turn this sad sad weekend into something to celebrate. So what better way to turn Katie’s frown upside down than to hire a female stripper?
In what is perhaps an imitation of rappers seen in music videos, the girls whoop and holler as the stripper gives them lap dances, shaking her milky white tush in front of their foundation-heavy faces. They’re clearly enjoying themselves, and yet no one seems to have a second thought as to whether they might actually be attracted to women. Here lies the basic contradiction of Vanderpump Rules: they’ll perform gay actions, while holding their identities are 100% straight. It’s an unspoken rule, like showing up for World Dog Day or raving about the goat cheese balls at SUR.
Dirty Thirty, Season 4, Episode 8
It’s season 4, and Tom Sandoval has just abandoned Ariana on her birthday for a bro trip to Vegas. It’s really important, though, because they’ll be destroying things with construction equipment. Did I mention that Ariana’s Dad just died?
To get back at the boys, the girls decide to have a sleepover at Scheana’s house and make out with each other. This has nothing to do with their desire to make out with each other, of course- it is merely a tool to make the men regret their decisions. And it’s also not gay that upon receiving videos of the girls kissing, the men decide to kiss each other as well. They’re in a nightclub videotaping each other kissing, and everyone is totally heterosexual.
This is not the first nor the last time same-sex cast members on the show have kissed each other. It happens so often that there is even a picture of the Toms kissing, framed in the restaurant they collectively own 5% of. Ah, true love.
Jax and the Man from Miami
Tears Over Miami, Season 3, Episode 11
We are in Miami for Scheana and Shay’s joint bachelor-bachelorette party, and skeletons are coming out of Jax’s closet. By skeletons I mean John, a middle-aged man who helped Jax, then Jason, get his start in the modeling industry. Although Jax denies that they’ve ever dated, he does admit that they’ve kissed. Ooh, they also lived together. I almost have to admire the Vanderpump Rules cast for their shirking of heteronormativity. I’m not saying that Jax is bell hooks, or anything, but I can appreciate how he doesn’t seem to give a fuck if he’s kissed a guy before.
On the other hand, Tom Sandoval tells a different story.
“When Jax left Miami there was rumors about him and John hooking up. There is believability to this at least because very quickly after these rumors came out, ‘Jason’ packed up his stuff moved away and changed his name to Jax.”
And the rest is history.
Kristen and Brittany
What Went Down, Season 5, Episode 2
To fully enjoy Vanderpump Rules, you need to become comfortable with the concept that Brittany can do no wrong. She’s from the South, she smiles constantly, and, like Annie Sullivan to Helen Keller, she’s hoping to fix Jax’s cold, dead heart.
That’s why it was particularly upsetting to the cast when Jax told everyone that he walked in on Kristen going down on Brittany. Kristen says she’s “pretty sure” that it didn’t happen, but she was also blackout. Brittany’s denial of the lesbian sex drives Jax to question his own sanity, and finally, he drops the rumor. But those obsessed with all the gay shit in Vanderpump Rules will never forget.
I Peed on My Dress: The Boys in Drag
Man Tears and Braziers, Season 5, Episode 16
On the same trip where the girls got that lady stripper, the boys have Aubry St. Clair and her team transform them from metrosexual L.A guys to full-on drag queens. It’s Tom Schwartz’s idea. He says he’s always wanted to know what it would be like to be a woman, which isn’t queer at all.
Jax wears an auburn bob with bangs, reminiscent of Sulley from The X-Files, Tom Sandoval looks a bit like Lady Gaga in the Telephone music video, and Tom Schwartz resembles an aging beauty queen, with his delicate cheekbones and pale complexion. The only one who doesn’t get full drag makeup is Peter, SUR’s manager and a peripheral friend of the group.
Remember, this is the same night that ended with Tom Schwartz, still in his virginal white dress, walking around his hotel room muttering “I’m not marrying Katie”. It’s also the same night that Tom Sandoval, wigless but still smokey-eyed, knocks the bathroom door open, revealing Schwartz pooping, while Sandoval screams “he’s a fucking battered wife! Look at him!”. And Schwartz looks at the camera, a half-smile curling on his pearly pink lips.
Tom Schwartz’s Muumuu
Beads, Beers and Tears, Season 5, Episode 15
I’m not saying that a guy wearing a muumuu must be gay, but I am saying that Tom Schwartz is gay, at least a little bit, and that the muumuu is an extension of that. It’s salmon colored with white illustrations of fish, something your Mom would wear as a coverup in Margate. Schwartz’s explanation of the muumuu is that he wears it when he “gives up on the day,” which I heavily relate to. You could say that Schwartz’s willingness to cross dress represents his rejection of gender norms, but I think he’s just too hungover to care.
Every Time Tom Sandoval is in Costume
Too Many to Keep Track Of
To say that Tom Sandoval LOVES dressing up would be a vast understatement. While the entire cast enjoys a costume party, Sandoval raises it to a level that is only matched by period dramas that win the Oscar for “best costume”. Whether it’s putting in white-colored contacts for Ariana’s “Kings and Queens” birthday party or getting a custom-made silver headpiece for Nastariana’s winter-themed bash, Sandoval goes all out at the mere mention of a costume party. Sometimes he goes all out even if there isn’t a costume party. Remember his polka dot and plaid golf outfit? Or his leopard print short suit in Mexico? Not to mention his various hair styles over the years. Tom Sandoval is truly the gay gift that keeps on giving.
Schwartz Gives Katie a Lap Dance
Drag Battle, Season 5, Episode 17
Okay, so this is about a straight couple about to get married. But there is something distinctly gay about a man, shamed over his drunken trysts, gyrating his hips over his fiancé while being egged on by all their friends. Gayer still: “I literally have to pay you to have sex with me,” Katie says as she throws Tom singles. It’s not a far cry from when, earlier in the season, Katie accuses Tom of his dick “not working”. I can’t tell you how much I would pay to actually know something concrete about their sex life, but it’s certainly not a small amount of money.